Empathy: Path of Whispers

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Empathy: Path of Whispers Game Poster Image
Muddled adventure addresses mature political themes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Postapocalyptic setting is grim, with few uplifting aspects.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some flashbacks talk about kind, compassionate people.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; some puzzles pose a challenge.

Violence

Abandoned world shows evidence of past violence, including instances of blood spatter.

Sex
Language

"S--t," "crap," "bastards," "bitch" heard occasionally.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No characters seen doing drugs, but drug use (both medical use and addiction) is a central theme.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Empathy: Path of Whispers is a downloadable first-person adventure game dealing with mature themes like religious persecution, madness, medical experiments, and political extremism. It contains occasional curse words like "s--t," "bitch," "crap," and "bastards." Cigarette smoking is mentioned, and drug use is a central theme of the story; dialogue includes talk of medical drug use, drug sales, and drug abuse. Violence is minimal, although there are some scenes with blood splatter.

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What's it about?

EMPATHY: PATH OF WHISPERS takes you on a mysterious journey through a postapocalyptic world destroyed by humanity's faith in science and technology. It casts you as a young boy -- seemingly the sole survivor of a collapsed, postapocalyptic society -- and tasks you with unraveling the events that led to that society's end. You do that by exploring a crumbling, makeshift settlement and uncovering clues. Once they are found, you scan these memory-infused items and documents with a gadget that can harvest their emotional information. Occasionally, there's a puzzle to solve; mostly, gameplay involves searching and listening.

Is it any good?

This adventure manages to bring up mature topics in an interesting way, but the gameplay and problem-solving leaves much to be desired. Empathy's story-rich adventure emphasizes dialogue and text, and because of it, crosses the line from game to interactive story. Though most point-and-click adventures are fairly text-heavy and involve exploration, the good ones alternate between these aspects and some other kind of puzzle or problem-solving experience. Empathy: Path of Whispers lacks that kind of enigmatic pacemaker, and its flow suffers accordingly.

Most of what you do involves using a hand-held scanner to track psychically rich objects, and scanning involves using your mouse wheel and buttons to adjust the shape of an electronic wave. Doing this is moderately interesting the first five times; after that, it's a chore. The same can be said for marching from point A to point B, clicking on an object, and listening while its related sound bite plays. There's little to break up this plodding routine, and the memories you find along the way reference a confusing number of characters and story threads. Still, the overreaching premise is mysterious enough to help you endure the repetition just to see what happens next, and your reward for doing so is a series of beautifully moody, ominous environments. And it has to be, since the end reveal is a fairly big letdown. Ultimately, it gets a big thumbs-up for attempting to discuss mature and difficult themes, and a big thumbs-down for muddled presentation and lack of problem-solving.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how drugs are portrayed in the media. Does it seem cool and romantic, or harmful and scary?

  • Talk about what the definition of "fascism" is. What is a fascist government and how does one arise?

  • Discuss the idea of religious fanaticism. How do some people use religion to justify violence?

Game details

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