When they’re done right, point-and-click adventures can feel like you’re reading a good book. Whispers of a Machine is a perfect example of this, offering up a classic noir mystery with a bit of sci-fi flair for an interactive adventure that, just like a good book, is hard to put down once you start. While some of the dialogue can feel a little cliché and cheesy, it actually fits nicely within the atmosphere of a pulp crime novel. And while the story does rely heavily on its sci-fi elements, it never feels as though it’s forced. Sure, Vera’s cybernetic enhancements come in handy during investigations, but they’re just extensions of her natural skills and attitude. This is a result of the game’s elastic triad of decisions which gives players three different options when choices come up. Each represents one of three traits: Empathic, Assertive, or Analytical. Choosing one of these strengthens that part of Vera’s personality and abilities, while weakening the other two. The result is a main character that evolves over the course of the game and grows to fit the mold of the player’s play style.
As engrossing as Whispers of a Machine can be from a story perspective, it’s still a game. It’s meant to be played, which is where some of its weaker points begin to show. While the game’s retro style gives a nostalgic feel to the experience, it sometimes also makes things seem a bit dated. The animations, in particular, come across a bit clunky. And even with the option to highlight objects Vera can interact with, sometimes the game's a bit too vague about what exactly needs to be done. It’s easy to get hung up in a certain area just because you might have overlooked one conversation thread, wasting a hefty chunk of time going back and forth and clicking randomly around the screen before realizing your mistake. Still, investing a little extra patience through these rough moments is rewarded with both a sense of accomplishment and a mystery well worth solving.