Exploration title Empathy: Path of Whispers has just hit Steam and our review dives into this desolate world to see if it’s worth checking out.
These days you can choose from a large selection of ‘exploration games’ on Steam. These titles could also be described as ‘adventure game lite’, offering atmospheric worlds and plot-driven gameplay, with quite basic puzzles to break things up a bit. You won’t find anything complex or challenging to stump you and halt the natural progression of the story; just some simple tasks to tick off as you move from point A to point B.
Empathy: Path of Whispers is precisely this kind of game. Cast as a nameless, faceless adventurer, your task is to explore a seemingly deserted landscape and try and piece together what happened to the previous inhabitants. To do so you’ll need to track down lingering memories, scattered across the eerie game world.
Thankfully you don’t have to go scrabbling around on your knees, in order to find every last whisper of that deceased civilisation. You handily pick up a scanner in the first minute of the game which acts like that scanner in Aliens, directing you towards every memory scrap in your area. Follow the white arrows and you’ll soon locate all the necessary bits.
Once you track down a memory, simply tap on it to start the other main section of Empathy: Path of Whispers’ gameplay. This mini game has you tuning into the whisper by matching its amplitude, frequency and wavelength. You can cycle between the three with a click of the left mouse button, while the mouse wheel can be used to increase and decrease each in turn.
The first few times you complete this puzzle, it’s quite fun and rather challenging. However, by the 30th time the minigame starts to lose its charm somewhat. We’d have appreciated a bit of variety here, as it’s such a major gameplay component.
You’ll also occasionally encounter very simple puzzles, which often involve finding an object and taking it somewhere else. These objects are usually tracked down with ease, often before you even need them. Adventure game fans certainly won’t be tested in any way.
As for the world itself, developer Pixel Night has done a solid job of constructing an interesting-looking environment for you to explore. It may not be logically laid out, but there are plenty of memorable vistas and visuals packed inside to warrant further exploration.
The story too intrigues, as it’s trickled out a little piece at a time. Each unlocked whisper reveals a snippet of dialogue between the vanished civilians, while discovering all of the whispers in an area usually opens up a shadowy scene from the past. We won’t say any more than that, to avoid spoilers and the rest.
Is Empathy: Path of Whispers worth a purchase? Well, if you’re after a puzzle or adventure game, you should probably look elsewhere. The only challenging component of this title is the wave matching mini game, which is repeated over and over ad nauseam. With a bit of polish and a greater variety of puzzles, a recommendation would be much easier.
Check out our round-ups of the best adventure games you can play in 2017: