Empathy: Path of Whispers is an Adventure/Puzzle game set in the aftermath of an apocalypse that completely destroys the human race. You stand alone in this new, dead world with an unseen man’s voice guiding you to where you are needed. We start off in a small, isolated room and are immediately introduced to our most important tool E-15P Scanner, a device that lets us hear what people were thinking by scanning an object that carried emotional value to them. To accomplish this, we have three settings on the E-15P that we must tweak to line up the wavelengths just right so we can resonate with past events.
It is an odd mechanic at first, that sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to decrypt any object you come across in a few seconds. This Scanner also doubles as both an X-ray and a radar, to point you exactly to where the next items you need are. The other tools at your disposal will be a journal to see the memories you have collected, a flashlight which is only useful once and an inventory system to carry around seemingly useful items that you will no doubt need later on. Before you start on your journey, you may want to increase the mouse sensitivity as it is by default much too low.
Tools in hand, we take our first step out into the real world, and it is not at all what I expected. It lays in ruin, yes, but even in its current state, it has a certain beauty as it sits above the dead clouds. This world is huge and is in such disrepair that not paying attention can easily lead to you falling down to its depths. Doing so will not kill you, all that occurs is that you spawn right where you fell to continue on where you left off. It does make you wonder if you are even human as you continue to gather the memories of the long since departed.
The story is pretty cryptic and piecing together what happened will require significant thinking on your part as it will not spell it out. Each time you decrypt an object with your Scanner, you will hear the voices and thoughts of one of the numerous people you’ll learn about. Your task is to gather sufficient objects so that you can piece the events together enough to have an out of body experience into the past. In where you either view what occurred or temporarily take control of another character to perform a simple task such as fixing a bridge or digging a tunnel. These newly experienced past events also carry on over into the current time, allowing you to progress with the now fixed bridge or what have you.
You hear voices all the time throughout your travels but never encounter another human being. Not even in your views of past events can you see other people, just the event itself. It does lead the once creepy world to feel more lonely than anything as you hear tragedy after tragedy without a trace of the humans having ever existed aside from the ruins they left behind. The voice acting can be hit or miss with it usually being the latter sadly which does slightly impact the emotional weight. Your character will never talk and is a completely blank slate only searching for the truth. Every step of the way, you will be accompanied by the mysterious Narrator who has quite a bit to say throughout and is voiced pretty well.
As vast and open-ended as the world is, it is not advised to go exploring on your own. You can do so, but certain objects will only be able to be picked up after you progress a bit more, meaning you will have to go back there anyways and once again explore it. Just stick to finding the things your scanner wants and keep your eyes peeled for other objects along the way. Even something as seemingly useless as a half eaten sandwich will come in handy later on. You will usually be pointed to where exactly you need to go though on occasions it leaves you to your own devices to figure out how to proceed. Paying attention is a must, do not simply make a mad dash from object to object lest you find yourself randomly stumbling about the place.
Puzzles are scattered about from time to time and while not too challenging, do add variety. At times you must even make use of your platforming skills to reach locations. There are no enemies, and it is impossible to die so you can take as long as you please to explore every nook and cranny. Not everything will be an important item, there are plenty of notes and the like to further fill you in on the backstory of people, events, and the world itself. I would not call this a walking sim, there is rarely a time when you are not doing something and does expect more of you than simply walking around the place while stuff happens.
Each song of this game’s soundtrack is excellent, and they perfectly suit the theme of whatever location or situation you are in. In a nice surprise, the entire soundtrack is free DLC which is just awesome of them. The title should last you around 5 and a half hours with multiple areas to explore throughout. Once you finish the story, the only thing to do afterward is to start a new game. At the very least allowing you to view your journal and all that you’ve collected would have gone a long way instead of being back to square one. All in all, Empathy: Path of Whispers is a title you should definitely play if you enjoy puzzles and enjoy a good story that is not spelled out for you.
[Review copy was provided]