In my 13 plus years of gaming. I have never encountered a game this harsh, in both difficulty and content. The first few levels I played had me trying to prevent a Faustian pact, argue with a demon, and decide whether a small child should be sacrificed, or myself (my character that is). Rough stuff. It didn’t help that I’m not exactly a pro at point-and-click games, and later levels only added more moral quandaries and tough subject material.
Based on Harlan Ellison’s infamous horror/sci-fi short story, I Have No Mouth tells the story of AM, a rogue super-AI that has taken over the world, and his five captives that he has held and tortured for the past 109 years. AM is voiced by the original author himself, and acts as a demented prototype for GLaDOS, delighting in brutal mental and physical torture for all of his captives.
The game uses a relatively simple point-and-click interface, letting you input what you want your chosen character (one of 5 playable victims) to do in a given circumstance. If you want to move your character, you click on “Walk To”, and then where you want them to move. This may seem to be an outdated form of game design now, but considering the tech of 1995, the game holds up pretty well regardless. There is also a “spiritual barometer” system that indicates a character’s morality for that segment. Think of it as a pre-Mass Effect Paragon/Renegade system. Though it’s not really blatantly referenced as you’re playing, it can have an impact on your ending.
The game’s content is pretty gutsy and intense. With subject matter like rape, demons, genocide, paranoia, and self-sacrifice, the game is very difficult to process and deal with sometimes. Crazily enough, this works for the game. You see AM as a true monster, just as his victims do, and this helps immerse you in their story. Unlike the majority of modern horror games, which are extremely action based, I Have No Mouth is slow and methodical, letting you choose the pace of the story and the amount of depth received. Speaking of story and character depth, Ellison’s voice acting gives a nice maniacal glee to the despicable AM without falling to the modern trope of sounding to robot-like or synthesized, something I personally don’t like, as modern trends go. The dialogue at times can be pretty funny or dramatic, depending on both the character and the situation.
Some of the voice work doesn’t exactly hold up, ranging from distracting to maddeningly frustrating. It may have been my specific download, or it could have been how the game was originally programmed, but I also encountered several glitches, especially on the character pictures and the walking controls.
With the occasional bug and bad voice acting from time to time, I Have No Mouth is certainly not perfect. But some shining examples of other traits, like Ellison’s work on AM and the morality system make it a pretty decent game that may be worth your time. If you’re like me, and don’t have a spare couple hundred dollars and want to try this game without pirating it, check it out here for roughly 6 American dollars. 7/10 insane AI.