I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream

(Originally published in the national edition of Computer Currents magazine. Reprinted here with permission of the author.)

by Joe DeRouen

Based on Harlan Ellison's short story of the same name, "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream" is one of those rare games that truly complement the original material rather than duplicate it. Some time between 1945 and 1989, goes the story, three different computers were created by the Chinese, the Russians, and by the Americans. Buried deep under the planet, the computers were to be used as tools of war. What no one knew was that the computers would develop a life of their own, linking together to form AM ("I think, therefore I AM".) Thus formed, AM decided to do its job one better; to not only wage war, but to destroy the entire human race in the process.

In this adventure, you take on the role of one of only five remaining people on Earth: Gorrister, the suicidal loner; Ellen, the hysterical engineer who's afraid of the color yellow; Benny, a former soldier who's been "altered" into a simian; Nimdok, an ancient, mean-spirited man; and Ted, a cynical paranoid. All of those characters, trapped in the bowels of the Earth with the computer for 109 years, have obvious flaws; flaws that the evil AM, who has kept these five alive for its own amusement, will take full advantage of. The only way they will survive their roles as the ultimate playthings for AM is by overcoming their flaws and finding a way to escape the fate they've been assigned.

If only all games based on a short story turned out this good. The plot here is compelling and moving, while the technology - the graphics, sound, and play - is terrific. There're really five games in one here, as each character has his or her own path to follow and story to tell. There are many ways to "win" or "lose" the game, so you'll rarely play the same game twice, even if you play the same character. The game interface (used with a mouse) is very easy to use and even novice gamers should be able to figure it out pretty quickly. The plot is complex, not the instructions, and that's a rarity with games these days. I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream is a real winner, and follows faithfully in Ellison's footsteps. One word of caution: don't rely too much on the story for solving the puzzles in the game. The characters in the story all ended up dead; if you play your cards right in this thought-provoking adventure, they just might survive.

MS-DOS 5.0 and up. List price: $69.95. Cyberdreams, 818/222-1049.

Copyright (c) 1996, Joe DeRouen. All rights reserved.

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File last modified on September 19th, 1996