I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a point and click psychological horror game based on the short story of the same name by Harlan Ellison. It tells the story of five people who are trapped inside a machine who calls himself AM, voiced by Ellison himself. The machine has destroyed every human being on Earth except for the five and it has tortured them for 109 years, playing sick and twisted games with their minds.
The basic idea is very fascinating. AM makes the five people confront their worst fears, their failures as human beings and the atrocities they have done before being trapped in the machine. A former military commander who killed his soldiers, Benny, has been turned into a crippled apelike monster. An office-worker, Ellen, has to confront the man who raped her in an office elevator. Gorrister has to face his wife, whom he has driven insane, Ted must stop being a dick who uses everyone to meet his own goals, and a nazi doctor, Nimdok, must face his human experiments from the camps.
Every character's inner struggles are very disheartening, depressing, unnerving and quite horrible to follow. The more you advance, the more you'll know about their wrong-doings. It almost starts to seem like they have deserved the fate they are suffering. Yet you must find the compassion and forgiveness to first forgive them, and after that find out if you have the heart to do the same to the computer. Everything you do seems to have an effect on the outcome, and even though you can die in the game, perhaps death isn't the worst possible solution to endless torment.
As a point and click adventure game I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream isn't the best there is. Basically the puzzles are logical and you don't have to rub everything to everything all the time to advance. Sometimes the puzzles really make you think, but you'll feel that you have accomplished something when you crack them. It is just too bad, that sometimes you'll have to find that one pixel from the screen to do something with. For example, I used two hours of my eight and a half hour game time searching for a white object that was on a white surface. The game mechanics are not annoying or anything, but as far as the mechanics go, there are better point and click games.
The plot and the characters are where the game excels. I didn't enjoy Ted's part as much as I enjoyed the other characters, but most of the time the game just haunts you. The agony of everyone and everything is almost painful to digest, because the computer isn't everything there is to blame, even though it is a horrible being. Talking to it and learning why it is doing all this is very interesting and everything in the game really makes you think about the nature of humanity.
I loved the game for the unique experience it offered so much that I immediately read the original short story. The short story is even better than the game, because it puts every character in the situation at the same time so they have to interact with each other, and the results are quite horrible, because that is how the human nature works. It was also nice to notice how the basic idea and the character names are the same, but in the game the things go very differently, and the characters have been changed, so there is a reason to read the story and play the game. They have included a happy ending to the game if you do everything right, and it is an okay choice, because after a game you want to feel like you have accomplished something, but to be honest, I liked the unhappy endings more, because they were very agonizing, just as the game and the short story are.