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Have You Played... I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Based on a short story by Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is an adventure game in which the only way to win is not to play at all.

It’s a horrible game, made up of horrible scenarios, populated with a handful of horrible people and horribly punishing to play through. I rather enjoyed it when I replayed earlier this year. Following five separate stories that intertwine at humanity’s last gasp, I Have No Mouth concerns itself with the possibility of redemption. Each of the five characters is trapped within a constructed world that preys upon their apparent “fatal flaw”. The subject matter is brutal, covering genocide, rape and suicide, and there’s little in the way of hope or light.

The idea of an adventure game built around ethical dilemmas – here measured by a spiritual barometer rather than “Clementine Will Remember That” – isn’t as novel today as it was when I Have No Mouth was first released in 1995. The griminess of the metaphorical worlds is almost unmatched though, and while the puzzles are sometimes obtuse and the whole thing is over far too quickly, it’ll leave a mark in your memory.

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Adam Smith

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