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Kathy Rain developer announces Whispers of a Machine

Kathy Rain developer Joel Staaf Hästö has announced his next game, Whispers of a Machine [official site]. It’s a collaboration with The Samaritan Paradox developer Petter Ljungqvist. A traditional hand-painted point-and-click adventure, this time a murder mystery set in a world years after AI was destroyed to prevent the singularity.

Kathy Rain was 2016’s best adventure game, if you don’t count the Day Of The Tentacle remake, so we’re very interested to see what Hästö is doing next. (I confess that I’ve not played Ljungqvist’s The Samaritan Paradox, but I plan to now.)

Last night Hästö revealed the next project, along with a big splash of extremely lovely looking screenshots. Defiantly 640×360 (talking to other AGS developers, this small size is a necessity of hand-painting your game in this style), this looks like a step forward from Rain’s already great graphics, with richer backgrounds, and more densely detailed pixel characters. Have a look at these double-size images (click for bigness):

Obviously that’s all for nought if the story’s naff, and we won’t know that until next year. But the setting sounds intriguing. After AI got into everything, from cars to clothes to human implants, the singularity was looking like an inevitability, so artificial intelligence was scrapped. And that led to a worldwide technological crash. Set years after this, we’ll play as Vera, a murder cop sent to a rural outpost in somewhere called Nordsund. (This is a Swedish dev, so from that name expect a Scandinavian setting.) There we’re told she’s “pulled into an invisible war about technology and religion”, which sounds quite the complicated pickle.

It’s once more fertile ground for narrative exploration, now that AI is looking like an inevitability rather than a science fiction hope, and Kathy Rain proves that Hästö has a deft hand for writing and creating puzzles. Long time to wait to find out though. *drums fingers*

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John Walker

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