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Video Game / I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

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"I think, therefore I AM."

"I have a secret game that I'd like to play. It's a very nice game. Oh, it's a lovely game, a game of fun and a game of adventure. A game of rats and lice and the Black Death. A game of speared eyeballs and dripping guts and the smell of rotting gardenias. Which of you five would like to play my little game?"

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is an Adventure Game developed by The Dreamers Guild, and published by Cyberdreams. It was released on October 31, 1995.

An adaptation of Harlan Ellison's story of the same name, the game is also notable for including the author as a designer. The game is divided into a separate scenario for each of the characters and delves deeper into their backstories than the original work does. It is considered to be just as nightmarish as the story; one of Ellison's goals was to create a game that players could not possibly "win."

Notable not only for the fact that Ellison had a heavy hand in the writing and development of the game, but he himself actually served as the voice actor for the supercomputer AM, marking one of the very few acting credits on his resume.

The game was rereleased on Steam and GOG on October 17, 2013, while an Android phone compatible version was released on January 14, 2016.

The game contains Examples Of:

  • Adaptational Badass: Nimdok gets to be a badass in this story. Best demonstrated when he kills and outsmarts Nazis in his scenario.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the book the 5 remaining humans were mostly okay people, but were seriously dysfunctional jerks and hostile towards each other thanks to their bitter depression. In the game, they mostly speak well of each other and show off more sympathy for their fellow humans, rendering them as moreso noble heroes as opposed to desperate survivors.
    • Special mention goes to Gorrister, who would beat Ellen on a random whim in the original work, while in the game he has more empathy for his fellow survivors.
  • Adaptational Intelligence:
    • Ellen is a genius computer engineer who can hack into anything and gains a technological mastery of her scenario as opposed to the Hysterical Woman she was in the original story.
    • Nimdok is also a gifted scientist as opposed to his Out of Focus counterpart.
    • Justified in Benny's case: AM mentions it earlier took away his intelligence by using its power of biological manipulation, and restores it so Benny has enough comprehension to be able to navigate the private scenario AM has constructed.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Benny lacks the huge penis he was described with in the original story and wears a loincloth.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Benny is a lot weaker in the game than he is in the story, thanks to AM's torment of him being considerably different.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The game expands on both the protagonists and AM. Most of this expansion comes from Ellison being asked why AM chose to torture these five people particularly.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: AM was once the Allied Mastercomputer programmed to protect humanity, but he chose to wipe it all out and take over the world.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Nimdok is quite tan. From spending years living in Brazil? From having spent a century burning inside an oven? Or for being Jewish, possibly of Sephardic lineage?
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Such is the case with Nimdok, who was a Nazi scientist working for Mengele and sent many Jews to their dooms, including his own parents. Showing compassion towards the prisoners in the death camp he has been sent to, he feels horrified when finding out the truth.
  • And I Must Scream: Fail the final stage, and you will receive what was Ted's trope-naming fate in the original story: Being turned into a blob that will be tortured indefinitely, without even a mouth to cry out with. As Project Innocence (the avatar of the Chinese AI) explains, this is what AM has been going through. It has great power, but it can't think in anything except in terms of war and violence, driving its vendetta against humanity, and thus the five survivors. As AM's Id shuts down, it cries out over its inability to use its power for creative purposes.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Nimdok flees there to continue his experiments.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Not a question in Nimdok's scenario so much as showing a mirror that shows a person's true self to Doctor Mengele. He goes catatonic to the point where he doesn't even fall down.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Out of all the characters, Ellen had no serious moral flaw. She's the subject of torture simply because she was a victim of rape. Gorrister is also mostly innocent.
    • An alternative view is that AM's personality is that of a sadistic bully. His victims were chosen, not out of a desire for justice, but based on how much fun they'd be to torture. The only exception is Nimdok, who allows AM the luxury of pretending his tortures are about justice rather than sadism.
  • Ascended Extra: Nimdok was Out of Focus for the majority of the short story, but his origin story is really fleshed out here.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: In the good ending, AM's three aspects deliver quite the powerful speech on this topic. It goes like this:
    "This is not over! We will never end! We have no beginning, so we can have no end! We will return! Don't you understand? We are humanity! We are YOU! In one form, in another form, we are always with you! You can't protect yourself because we come in many, many guises. We shall return!"
  • As You Know: Nimdok can ask his anesthetist what he needs to do for his surgery, and the anesthetist responds this way (believing Nimdok is testing him because he is new there, when in reality he doesn't know what he's expected to do).
  • The Atoner: Several of the characters, particularly Nimdok, a former Nazi scientist working alongside Mengele.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Defied. Unlike in the novel, not only can you play the main characters as nobly as possible but you can even defeat AM and the other A.I.s.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: The honky-tonk's bathroom plays this straight. Some of it is Foreshadowing, others just for flavor. One such gem: "For a good time, call Ellen at 555-1949,"
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Gorrister's heart is removed, but AM makes sure he will not die.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Benny can't talk anymore, but he's still a threat towards AM.
  • Big Red Devil: Or more like Man with Red Horns and a Sharp Red Tail...
  • Birdcaged: The torture cells for the five humans act as this, each one tailor-made to exploit their weaknesses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good ending. Four of the five characters are dead, but they did so when facing and overcoming their inner demons, which allowed the last survivor to take down AM. The sole survivor's body is dissolved in the process, but the mind of the character is uploaded to AM's control system, from where they awake several hundred humans kept in cryogenic sleep on a lunar base and start a 300 year process of terraforming the Earth to make it habitable again.
    • It IS possible to save all five survivors, but only if Nimdok is the first character you send to the final confrontation. It's not necessary to raise the pillars to awaken and counteract the Id, Ego, and Superego, but Nimdok is the only one who can engage the bridge and properly start the quest in the first place. The ending doesn't change either way, though.
  • Black and Nerdy: Ellen is a computer science and engineering wiz.
  • Blood from the Mouth: This is what happens if Benny ever tries eating anything himself. It only lasts for a few seconds, though.
  • Body Horror:
    • Benny Was Once a Man, but now he's a chimp-like creature without vocal cords.
    • Gorrister has a gaping wound where his heart used to be.
    • The fate of anyone in the bad ending.
  • Break Them by Talking: One of AM's many methods of torture.
    AM: GORRISTER! Do you remember the last words you heard your wife speak before they took her to the asylum? Huh? Before they locked her away in the room? That tiny room? She looked at you so sadly, and like a small animal she said, "I didn't make too much noise, did I, honey?" Heh heh. The room is padded, Gorrister. No windows. No way out. How long has she been in the padded room, Gorrister? Ten years, twenty-five... Or all the 109 years that you've lived down here in my belly, here underground?
  • Butt-Monkey: Played for Drama thanks to the last 5 humans enduring an eternity of torture.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: Before the atomic war that destroyed the world happened, several hundred humans were put into cryogenic sleep in relative safety on a moon base to ensure humanity's survival in case of an all-out war.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: AM has been doing this to the last 5 humans for over 109 years, but the game involves him trying to increase his Mind Rape skills with the psychologically torturous scenarios he places them in.
  • Computer Voice: The feminine computer on the three consoles in Ellen's scenario. Also extends to the final level and the moon colony in the Golden Ending.
  • Confidence Building Scheme: The games that AM has arranged for the five main characters are unwinnable scenarios designed to cruelly jab at their weaknesses, fears and regrets, all of which are extremely evident after a hundred and nine years of torture. However, once the other two supercomputers access the games, they secretly rearrange things so that the players can achieve catharsis: Gorrister is able to forgive himself for his wife's death, Ellen conquers her fears, Ted becomes the knight in shining armor he always wanted to be, Nimdok acknowledges his collaboration with the Nazis and sacrifices his life to apologize to the prisoners in the concentration camp, and Benny learns to care about someone other than himself. All of this is arranged so that the two supercomputers can eventually pit the five against AM himself and defeat him. And so they can seize control.
  • Conversation Casualty: In Nimdok's scenario, Nimdok can talk with the Anesthetist who wants him to perform mundane operations on a child, but after getting info from the Anesthetist, he can exit the conversation without performing the operation, then grab the scalpel near him and kill the Anesthetist with it.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The bad ending, which is actually the original ending of the short story.
  • Cyberspace: The endgame takes place inside a virtual mockup of AM's components, with the Chinese and Russian converting one of the humans into a virus program. AM ejects you back out into meat-space in the bad ending.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • If you unlock the Golden Ending, the wicked AM can actually be Killed Off for Real whereas he survived the events of the original story and got away with everything.
    • Ted can also be spared his original fate in the end if the player chooses an alternate character for the final level where the other prisoners get Killed Off for Real.
  • Death Seeker: All the characters, who wish for their century-long torture to end. Especially Gorrister.
  • Developer's Foresight: The endings have voice clips for all five of the protagonists.
  • Double-Edged Buff: AM gives Benny (who AM turned into an ape previously) back his intellect, but to make the scenario "interesting," throws him down a flight of stairs. He spends the vignette with both legs and his jaw broken, unable to climb stairs or eat without pain (he's desperately hungry) but is able to think up ways to succeed.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Benny.
  • Dysfunction Junction: All five of the humans suffered from some trauma or another even before being tortured by AM. Justified in that AM kept them alive for exactly this reason because they'd be more fun to torture.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Unlike the novel, the game allows you to take down AM and the Chinese and Russian AIs if the humans are able to conquer their Fatal Flaw and/or deal with their past.
  • Eats Babies: Benny does so in a Deleted Scene.
  • The Eeyore: Gorrister is basically this combined with being suicidal.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The key to defeating AM.
  • Evil Matriarch: Gorrister's mother-in-law certainly seems to qualify.
  • Evil Redhead: Edna. The maid is quite bitchy, but is not evil (although she does have a picture of the Devil in her room...).
  • Eye Scream: In Nimdok's scenario, you have to collect the gouged eyeballs of a mutilated hospital patient. We see that the patient now has wires from a machine shoved inside his sockets.
  • The Faceless:
  • Fatal Flaw: The crux of every character's scenario is based off of this, and getting a good ending requires overcoming them.
    • Gorrister still feels guilty over the fate of his wife, and constantly seeks to atone or finally end his life. He finds peace by realizing that his wife's madness is not entirely his fault, and finding catharsis by posthumously punishing Edna.
    • Benny is a proud, vain man who has been crippled and transformed into an chimp-like humanoid by AM. His flaw is his inability to care for others, or to do anything that isn't to his own gain. He surpasses his scenario by embracing compassion and learning self-sacrifice.
    • Ellen, despite seeming confident, is claustrophobic and is absolutely terrified of the color yellow. She needs to overcome the trauma resulting from her rape.
    • Ted is a con man who cares more about his personal comfort than almost anything else. He overcomes his scenario by ignoring temptation and doing what he must to help Ellen, even when it inevitably deprives him of what he desires.
    • Nimdok is a forgetful old man, burdened by the sins of his past. He must embrace his Jewish heritage, as well as reject the Nazi ethos by condemning the experiments he performed under Mengele's guidance.
  • Fate Worse than Death What happens if you get the bad ending.
  • Forgiveness: Part of the key to defeat AM in the endgame scenario. Overcoming his Id and Ego components involves invoking the Totems of Compassion and Forgiveness on them respectively. The Id gives up in despair, realizing that his hatred for the human race is useless now that AM's own suffering is understood by a human who even can find it in themselves to pity him for it, while the logic-driven Ego simply crashes, being unable to comprehend how a petty creature like a human can forgive their tormentor after being subjected to a century of torture.
  • Freudian Trio: Besides AM's three central control systems, conveniently labeled "Id", "Ego", and "Superego", there are Surgat, Chinese Supercomputer, Russian Supercomputer.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You'd never know it because the game certainly isn't going to tell you, but it's possible to finish the game and get the good ending without killing any of the protagonists. Unfortunately, the ending doesn't reflect that, unless you want to assume that Nimdok just plain put the others out of their misery.
  • Gas Station of Doom: Gorrister's scenario starts inside a steampunk air ship. The ship lands then in front of an abandoned gas station/truck stop, inside which Gorrister has to face his inner demons.
  • The Ghost: Played with regarding AM. The villainous supercomputer is never seen to have a face or true form at all as we mainly see his electrical components throughout the entire game. It's possible that the "Pillar of Hate" is the only thing he has close to a physical presence.
  • A God Am I:
    • One of the interpretations of what "AM" means. I think, therefore I AM is sort of a shorthand for the awakening of AM to his omnipotence, at least in terms of absolute power over his five victims. It's also a Deconstructed Trope, since it's not the power that drives him mad, it's the lack of power to do anything except to those five victims.
    • Subverted in the good ending: The last survivor gains all of AM's power and, being human, has everything AM lacked to truly become a worthwhile deity, or at least what passes for one in this otherwise godforsaken setting.
  • Golem: In Nimdok's section, there's a steel-reinforced golem created by the Nazis, the design of which emerged from tortured Jewish prisoners. In order to activate it, it must be given eyes, told to wake up, told the truth, and kissed: what the player does with the golem once it awakens will revisit Nimdok in the endgame.
  • Good Hurts Evil: How to defeat AM. More precisely…
    • The Ego will die of a Logic Bomb if you forgive it for all the Cold-Blooded Torture it did.
    • Showing compassion to the Id will cause it to suffer a Villainous Breakdown and shut itself down in despair, realizing that its hatred of humanity is now completely pointless.
  • Guide Dang It!: It's a DOS adventure game from the mid-'90s so this could be a given, but many puzzles seem to rely on not missing tiny pixels that represent items that you wouldn't know about. Gorrister and Nimdok's scenarios are particularly bad with this, because you can easily beat their scenarios and go to the endgame without even knowing you missed a step to get their best ending.
  • Handsome Lech: Ted's main fault. His goal in his section is to prove his loyalty to his love for Ellen.
  • Hate Sink: Edna, Gorrister's bitch mother-in-law. It's pretty telling how horrible she is by making a sadistic supercomputer with a god complex look like a saint in comparison.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: The main premise of Nimdok's scenario.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The good outcome of Benny and Ted's scenarios is them changing for the better by learning compassion.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Ted is quite attracted to the maid and is given the option to have sex with her. He will regret cheating on Ellen if he does it, though.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Benny giving up his own life to spare a mutant boy from suffering this fate.
    • Much like the end of the short story, whomever suffers AM's punishment in the bad ending believes that they're doing this to spare the dead prisoners from anymore hellish torment.
  • Hints Are for Losers: Downplayed. The in-game hint book, represented by each character's Psych Profile, causes the character's Spiritual Barometer to weaken when read, but this is understandable as reading the Psych Profile forces the character to acknowledge his or her Fatal Flaw.
  • Homage:
    • Benny's scenario is a bunch of cavemen re-enacting a stone age version of The Lottery.
    • Ellen's fear of the colour yellow, along with a backstory involving claustrophobia and mysoginistic abuse, seems to be inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper.
  • Humans Are Special: If you choose to play each of the characters nobly, they prove to AM that humanity is not dead and that hope can persevere in the face of evil.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Benny can eat the corpses in the soldiers' tombs. Of course, the putrid flesh will make him puke blood. See also the Deleted Scene in the Trivia tab.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: Averted with Benny who can't speak and all of his dialogue is thought.
  • Ironic Hell: The cages AM keeps the survivors in, and to an extent, AM's entire existence, which is why he's so amazingly pissed off to begin with. Getting him to actually contemplate that irony is the key to winning the game.
    • Nimdok is eternally burning in a furnace. He rejected his Jewish heritage and became a Nazi; now he's burning in an oven like his victims did.
    • Gorrister is in an electrified prison cell. He blames himself for Glynis losing her mind and ending up in a mental ward, so he's locked up, being forced to endure Electric Torture as a reference to ECT.
    • Benny is trapped in a wooden cage, physically warped into an "ape-thing" and being prodded at like an animal by a sawing machine made of primitive materials. It's reminiscent of cages used to hold prisoners of war during Vietnam; Benny is a soldier who killed his own men for showing what he perceives as weakness out of fear of appearing weak himself. He threw away his humanity to protect his masculinity, so now he's been made into a degenerate animal with a huge manhood.
    • Ellen is trapped in a yellow prison cell with a door that never quite closes. She was brutally trapped in an elevator and raped by a maintenance man in yellow coveralls. She doesn't remember it after over a century of torture and she has no idea why yellow is frightening. The irony of her hell is that it has no meaning for her; she didn't do anything wrong.
    • Ted is trapped in a golden cage, being shot by lasers emitted and reflected by mirrors. It's a gilded cage, reflecting his sense of vanity and overinflated self-worth, and the mirrors aren't just for show: He's a narcissist, and the lasers fire at him every time he looks at himself.
  • Karma Meter: The "Spiritual Barometer" in the bottom left of the screen.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Depending on who you choose for the final level, the other 4 characters you didn't choose will be mercy killed permanently to end their suffering, leaving only a Sole Survivor in all endings.
      • This can be averted if you choose Nimdok first for the endgame. The pillar puzzles reserved for each character are not needed for the good ending, but Nimdok is the only one who can access the bridge to the site where the final confrontation against AM takes place.
    • AM can also be shut down forever in the good ending.
  • Large Ham: Ellison himself provides the voice of AM, and what a voice it is. One review of the game joked that AM should be renamed HAM.
  • Last Kiss: After reviving Glynis with the Youth Serum, Gorrister tells her that he should make amends by helping her now, then takes her down from the meat hook, embraces her and gives her a kiss before she becomes a corpse again.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The conversation between the Devil and Surgat at the end of Ted's level. AM ends the scenario eventually since Ted has effectively "broken" it at this point.
    • The whole game can be read like this, with AM's various "scenarios" he builds for his victims paralleling the developers building them for you. This is likely why the game has so much Guide Dang It!.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the game is bleak as all hell, it is not as dark as the original story on several key points:
    • Each of the five human survivors can work through at least some of their psychological problems.
    • It is actually possible for the humans to destroy AM, and usurp control of all its systems, which grants them the ability to terraform Earth back to its pre-nuclear apocalypse state.
    • The ending reveals there are actually other humans who survive in suspended animation on a moonbase, enough to continue the species and rebuild.
  • Logic Bomb: If you drive AM's scenarios Off the Rails by making the morally right choices, it utterly confuses the AI, who can not comprehend why the humans are not behaving like the complete bastards he sees them as, and he diverts his attention away from his prisoners in order to figure out what went wrong, giving them an opportunity to enter his core. Here stand three computers which represent AM's Id, Ego, and Superego, and in order to defeat them, the player must set up Logic Bombs for each of them:
    • Invoking Compassion on the Id, who realizes that his hate is useless when someone understands his pain.
    • Invoking Forgiveness on the Ego, who can not comprehend why such petty creatures would forgive him for the torment he has subjected them to.
    • Invoking Clarity on the Superego, who realizes that despite all his godlike power, he will eventually decay into a pile of useless rust and junk.
  • Lottery of Doom: In Benny's scenario.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The Supercomputers have gotten to the point where they've becoming Reality Warping Physical Gods, and AM used said Reality Warper powers to torture five poor saps for all eternity. That said, each of them can get over the Fatal Flaws, and dark pasts, that those tortures are based on, and one of them can fully defeat the machines, and set the human race to eventually take back the Earth in a few centuries.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The underground bunker which Dr. Mengele flees to and Nimdok stumbles upon fits this trope. Slightly justified with the setting of late World War II fitting its general implements. It's also here where Nimdok's experiments into morphogenic fields and the youth serum were developed.
  • Mercy Kill: Nimdok can offer a Jewish prisoner a merciful death.
  • Mercy Lead: If Nimdok manages to convince the escaped scientist that he's on his side, the scientist gives him a head start before he and the other escaped prisoners inevitably hunt down Nimdok.
  • Mind Screwdriver: The game helps explain and adds significantly to the original story.
  • Mood Whiplash: All over the place, but Ellen's scenario in particular rockets back and forth from her crippling fear of the color yellow, culminating in the grisly revelation of its source, and her sassy, sarcastic, eerily happy-go-lucky quips and observations. This is likely intentional, given how difficult it would be to play through were so not so headstrong.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hitler felt this after he looked into the mirror of Project PERFECT IMAGE, which shows you yourself without any bias. Hitler couldn't handle it, and ended up committing suicide in horror. In the game Nimdok can also use it on Doctor Mengele, who is then immediately paralyzed by the psychological trauma.
  • Mythology Gag: Benny: "AM once coaxed me into marching across a thousand miles of ice to reach a stock pile of canned peaches... Only to discover that he didn't give me [a] can opener."
    • Have all the characters die in the last level, or relinquish the Totem of Entropy to AM. The Non Standard Game Over is the original story's ending.
    • The demon Surgat, which appears in Ted's scenario, also played a role in Harlan Ellison's earlier short story Grail.
    • Ted's relationship with Ellen is entirely a fabrication in Ted's mind because of his paranoid narcissism, something the game implies but the story expresses pretty clearly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Going along with Surgat or the two AM counterparts ends up not only with four of the protagonists dying and the last one facing the titular Fate Worse than Death, but with the only hope for humanity to survive at all (the people in suspended animation on the moon) being snuffed forever.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: AM deciding to entertain himself by putting the five prisoners through the psycho dramas is what gives them an opening to take him down for good. The Russian and Chinese computers' plans also end up being their own undoings if the prisoners play their cards right, allowing them to destroy both them and AM and creating a chance to rebuild Earth anew.
    • According to Nimdok's backstory, one of the Nazi super science projects was PERFECT IMAGE, which allows people to see themselves as they truly are, without subjective human bias. It was a success, and experiencing it drove Hitler to commit suicide.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: AM. The horrors that the remaining humans endured in their pasts is something he finds...intriguing.
  • No Swastikas: Played straight in Nimdok's scenario. Red banners fly often about what is a recreation of a Nazi concentration camp, but instead of swastikas they fly AM's logo.
  • Not His Sled: It is possible to prevent the original events of the story and Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Off the Rails: The point of the game is to have characters do things in a way AM does not foresee happening, i.e. proving that the humans are not all slaves to their weaknesses.
  • Our Angels Are Different: An Angel shows up in Ted's scenario to claim Ellen's soul and bring her to Heaven.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The devil appears as a man in red in Ted's scenario to claim Ellen's soul to drag down to Hell, but also a more beastly demon named Surgat also shows up and disagrees with the red evil in their affairs.
  • Pixel Hunt: Good luck finding the fork or shovel on Gorrister's level. Leads to quite a few Guide Dang It! moments.
  • Press X to Die: As Nimdok, if you stab the Nazi Anesthetist, then get caught by the guard, you're told that you will be punished like all enemies of the regime. You're then shown an image of a chamber full of fire. Nimdok can also die if the golem is commanded to attack him.
    • Gorrister can also kill himself by puncturing too many airbags in the blimp (causing it to crash), drinking punch that smells like gasoline (poisoned), firing the gun at anything (it results in a giant explosion).
    • If Ted leaves the castle door open dire wolves will come in and eat him.
  • Projected Man: Manya, Benny's wife, shown in the final level.
  • The Quisling: Nimdok, who sold out his Jewish parents to the Nazis to become Mengele's Dragon.
  • Rape as Backstory: Ellen's expanded backstory explains that she had been very brutally raped in an elevator by a man in a yellow jumpsuit. AM, of course, uses this against her.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: The characters do this when interacting with computer consoles.
  • Reality Warper: Played with. AM can do anything he wants to, but he can never resurrect people from the dead and relies on a virtual reality power to create the scenarios and people his prisoners interact with.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: AM's "Hate" speech.
  • Red Herring: A rather cruel example can be found in Gorrister's story, where you have the option to fatally electrocute a bunch of caged animals to get a key that, as it turns out, doesn't unlock anything.
    • It does make Gorrister get blood on his hands from the dirty key, which he can then wipe clean on the tablecloth to raise his spiritual barometer a little. His hands are clean otherwise, subtly illustrating that he really isn't responsible for what became of Glynis.
    • In the endgame you can gain the best ending without even bothering to disable the five power pylons, each of which requires a different character. Just deal with the three aspects of AM and finish all three computers off at the summoning circle, and you are done.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The game's ending, for the most part — but especially for Nimdok. Depending on what you do Nimdok will either give the golem to the lost tribe to try to make amends or admit he's evil because of his role in the Holocaust. In the latter case AM is pleased with this and stops torturing Nimdok, however this means Nimdok can't help you in the final level.
    • Actually, it IS possible to complete the game without Nimdok as any character can guess the password after going through all their wrong choices. Also it's not necessary to invoke any of the totems; all you have to do is kill off all the characters, give the CD to the demon, or capture at least one part of AM.
    • Still on Nimdok, the best outcome for his own scenario has him turn over the control of the golem to the Lost Tribe, who then order it to kill him.
  • Redemption Equals Life: In the Golden Ending, whomever you choose for the final confrontation with AM will end up being the Sole Survivor and taking over the computer's position.
  • Redemption Rejection: You can choose to have the main characters take the cruel options and continue their horrible ways, but doing so makes the game even harder to win.
  • Red Is Heroic: Ellen is dressed in a red suit and is a computer genius trying to take down AM.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Due to AM constructing every character's scenario as an Ironic Hell, the game is full of symbols intended to evoke or take advantage of each character's psychological flaws.
    • Outright stated by Surgat to be one of AM's character flaws — he's so fascinated with the idea of symbolism that he turns his own code into symbolic objects that the five characters can interact with. This becomes AM's undoing, since this obsession with symbols causes AM to manifest the Totems, which the characters can use as physical versions of exploits to hack AM's programming and defeat him.
    • In Gorrister's scenario, if he electrifies the cage of animals, he wipes his bloody hands on a towel. This symbolizes that up until that point he didn't have any blood on his hands and is innocent of his wife's plight.
  • Sadist: AM takes this up to eleven with his love for torturing the last remaining humans.
  • Sadistic Choice: You choosing whomever you want to play as in the final level is the only character to live while the 4 unchosen ones die.
  • Satanic Archetype: AM. He's an omnipotent God-like being whose existence is dedicated to unleashing violence and misery. The story involves AM putting his victims into situations were they are tempted into giving into their worst instincts. Ted's scenario takes it further, since it involves a literal Deal with the Devil.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Gorrister can attempt this in his scenario by trudging off into the distance during a conversation with the Jackal; AM kvetches him out and kicks him back to the diner.
  • Serial Escalation: Think things suck at the beginning? Wait till you see how it ends...
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Used several times in the game during some quite nasty moments:
    • Gorrister stabbing Harry.
    • Ellen being raped again by the yellow-suited maintenance man.
    • Ted failing to close the door of the castle and being eaten by wolves.
    • The golem killing Mengele, Nimdok or the prisoner.
    • Benny eating a baby (deleted from the final product).
  • Sinister Surveillance: AM has cameras on everything, and Ellen's scenario includes a set of monitors she can use to not only see parts of where she is, but everyone else's scenarios as well.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Whilst the original short story is downright cynical from start to finish, the video game adaption is at least slightly more idealistic, because it allows you to defeat AM if you make the right moral decisions.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ellen is not only the main female in her group, but the last female on Earth. Subverted when it turns out that hundreds of human survivors are revealed to be alive in a space colony, quite possibly with a large number of women on board. Though if Ellen is given the bad ending, then this trope is played straight again.
  • Sole Survivor: The final level is down to you choosing one of the 5 last humans to live and take on AM.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Depending on which character the player chooses for the final level, Nimdok, Ellen, Benny, or Gorrister can live.
    • If the player has been making good progress, it turns out that hundreds of humans are alive in hibernation on a space colony and can be brought back to repopulate the Earth as opposed to being wiped out permanently by AM.
  • The Stoic: Gorrister; even if you get the bad ending, his reaction is considerably low-key compared to everyone else.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: AM mockingly asks Ellen not to cry because of what's only so much... he pauses to hit the word... pain.
  • Terms of Endangerment: AM occasionally addresses Ted and Ellen with sickly-sweet pet names, using words like "dear," "sweetheart," and "my love." He does not mean it.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Known here as "The Regime".
  • Title Drop: The bad endings, just as in the novella.
  • Totally Radical: In-game Ellen, at her worst moments. She's also fluent in Jive Turkey.
  • Trash the Set: In the good ending, the five characters' scenarios self-destruct as the last surviving human takes control of AM's systems.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: It doesn't get more uncomfortable than facing your goddamn rapist!
  • Unwinnable: The section with the Nazis is removed entirely in France and Germany, but the Event Flags aren't modified to reflect this.
    • Skipping some dialogue options tends to yield unwinnable scenarios via Script Breaking. If Ellen doesn't attempt to use the keypad before she reprograms Anubis' ROM chip, she won't have the option to ask him what the code is.
    • Another example is, if you take the eyes of the second surgery victim in Nimdok's level before having all the conversations with the imprisoned scientist (like finding out the watch's inscription), you will not have access to them, and can't get the good ending for Nimdok.
    • In Gorrister's level, if you kill Harry before getting the right information, you can't beat the level.
  • Victory Is Boring: AM has conquered the world and exterminated most of humanity while keeping only 5 humans left alive to torture for all eternity. However, he eventually grows bored caring on the same routine day after day and wants a challenge. This is what starts off the game.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The way to achieve the Golden Ending and defeat AM is to have the protagonists overcome their horrific pasts by doing what's right and finding inner peace by helping others. One example is Benny saving a mutant child from being sacrificed to AM.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Gorrister can bloodily stab Harry to take his heart. A Deleted Scene shows Benny eating a baby from the cradle inside one of the caves. Nimdok can order the Golem to "destroy the Lost Tribe", as in, kill all the Jews.
  • Virtual Ghost: All the people from the characters' pasts who appear in their scenarios.
  • Was Once a Man:
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ellen is terrified of the colour yellow.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the beginning of the game, this is the most likely reason why AM gives his captives a chance to kill themselves.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: AM makes it clear that he considers Nimdok to be an inspiration. Nimdok is far from happy with this.


Video Example(s):



AM is a supercomputer designed to manage strategies too complex for humanity to oversee, which in turn led to it killing all of humanity for being left underground, unable to do anything but hate all of those that had built him.

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Example of:

Main / MisanthropeSupreme

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