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Video Game / Whispers of a Machine

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Whispers of a Machine is a 2019 point-and-click Adventure Game, developed by Clifftop Games and Faravid Interactive and published by Raw Fury. It's a sci-fi Nordic Noir with heavy Cyberpunk elements, set in a post-apocalyptic future.

Vera Englund is a rookie special agent of the Violent Crime division of the Central Bureau, sent to the remote town of Nordsund to investigate the murder of a museum curator, since the local cops have almost no experience in dealing with murder cases. In a post-Collapse world, AIs are banned, as is a whole range of advanced technology that may potentially lead to an AI. Special agents like Vera have been enhanced via a nanotech substance called Blue, which integrates into their bodies and gives them certain abilities that, in part, depend on their personality. Since Vera has been "enhanced" only recently, some of her abilities have not yet manifested. Some abilities are set, while others will depend on her conversation choices throughout the game (empathetic, analytical, or assertive).


Upon arrival to Nordsund, a town positioned atop a high pedestal, Vera learns of another murder that took place the night before. As is customary in such games, what seems like an ordinary murder will eventually unravel a conspiracy that may affect the entire world.

The game deliberately keeps the details of the setting vague by not mentioning any countries and introducing an Alternative Calendar that says nothing about when the events are taking place from our viewpoint. Unlike many other similar games, WOAM does not include the ability to manually save the game, instead keeping a running save that prevents Save Scumming. All decisions are final.


This game provides examples of:

  • After the End: The game takes place 82 years after an event only known as "the Collapse". Very few details are revealed. All we know is that anti-AI groups, fearing the approaching singularity, managed to ban the AIs, and the old civilization collapsed as a result. Also, the Collapse was helped along by vicious fighting and terrorist activity from both pro-AI and anti-AI groups. In the post-Collapse world, most advanced tech is banned, which includes even basic computers. Based on some of the items in Nordsund's museum, it can be concluded that the pre-Collapse world had Flying Cars and Robot Soldiers, as well as many kinds of household robots. Even the remote town of Nordsund is located atop a giant stone or metal disc-shaped pedestal that requires an elevator to access.
  • Airvent Passageway: Vera sneaks into the EPOS headquarters via its duct system.
  • The Alcoholic: Stina's apartment has several discarded or half-empty booze and beer bottles lying around, suggesting that she has quite the habit.
  • Alternative Calendar: The only dates mentioned use the abbreviation "AR" - "Anno Reducto", i.e., "Year after the Collapse". The current year is 82 AR. But there's no information about how these dates correspond to our calendar.
  • Big Bad: Councilwoman Stina Rooth is the real culprit. After her accomplice Lennart Dahl murders Maja Strands and Karl Oscarsson, Stina kills him and feeds his body into the recycler. Her goal is to awaken the AI Huldra, but in her own body rather than that of the child, in order to become a goddess. Vera ends up fatally shooting her, after Stina refuses to surrender without a fight.
  • Blinded by the Light: This is how Vera defeats Stina, by using the museum's Flying Car exhibit to blind Stina and then shoot her.
  • Bookcase Passage: Maja's secret lab full of illegal equipment is located in the museum behind a sliding panel that can only be opened by activating the exhibits in a specific order.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: One of the ways of getting into a room secured by a fingerprint scanner is to either cut off the owner's finger (the owner is dead at that point). The other way is to create a mold of the finger and use that instead.
  • Broken Bridge: You cannot enter the museum until day 2 when the problem with the electricity is fixed.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Two gunmen:
    • The old man on the train, who strikes up a conversation with Vera in the intro, turns out to be the leader of the Church of EPOS in Nordsund.
    • The gardener you meet on the cantina balcony later turns out to be the third victim's brother.
  • Clear My Name: A small subplot involves a character doing this after being wrongly accused of murder. This could actually have been resolved in minutes had two police officers coordinated and realized that the accused had a solid alibi; see Poor Communication Kills.
  • The Coroner: Dr. Persson combines this function with that of Nordsund's only doctor. Few people enjoy visiting him due to his rather grim sense of humor.
  • Easy Amnesia: The Amnesia ability allows Vera to temporarily make the subject forget about the last several minutes.
  • Fan of the Past: Maja Strand, the curator of the museum, was a fan of all things pre-Collapse. She turns out to be a member of the Conduit and wishes to bring back the AIs. Possibly also Valter, who scrounges the junkyard for robot parts and restores them (in appearance, at least, never in function).
  • Frameup: As soon as Vera returns to Nordsund, after being thrown off the platform by Stina Rooth, she is arrested by either Gabriel or Anderson (depending on previous player choices). Stina convinced Gabriel/Anderson that Vera is the murderer, forcing Vera to flee custody and try to prove her innocence.
  • The Fundamentalist: Lennart Dahl turns out to be one. As a member of the Church of EPOS, he is vehemently anti-AI. However, whereas the Church no longer condones violence, Dahl refuses to stand by and do nothing, while members of the Conduit are trying to create a new AI, so he murders Maja and Karl, forcing Stina to "put him down like a rabid dog".
    • Maja seems to be a fanatical follower of the Conduit, judging by her mystical ramblings. Also, unlike Katarina, she never called Katarina's son a baby or something like that - always just a "vessel".
  • Give Him a Normal Life: If Vera chooses to not go through with uploading Huldra to Karl and Katarina's son, the question becomes what is to become of the child. Katarina, realizing that she is going to serve a long sentence in jail and therefore is not going to be able to take care of him, instead chooses to give up any claim to him, asking Vera to see to it that he gets a normal life. Vera can choose to do this by putting him up for adoption or choosing to take care of him herself.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: While in jail at the police station, Vera trick the guard with her Healing Factor.
  • Healing Factor: Vera's final ability is Regeneration. It allows her to survive the fall from a great height and to bring Katarina out of her coma by hooking herself up to Katarina's IV.
  • Holographic Disguise: The Mimic ability can scan a person's physical appearance and voice patterns and then recreate them to disguise Vera. Only one pattern can be stored at a time.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: When Vera talks to Katarina in one of the endings, she justifies killing Stina using this line.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: This is what most post-Collapse people believe. The only exception is the Conduit, a group of fanatics, who believe that AIs have the potential to become gods and must be brought back. They are classified as terrorists and typically find themselves coming to blows with the Church of EPOS, who are just as fanatically against anything resembling an AI.
  • I'm Taking Him Home With Me!: Vera can potentially choose this for Karl and Katarina's infant son. Katarina accepts it, considering that she is going to be in jail year for several years for her involvement with a terrorist organisation, and she wants her son to have a better future.
  • Invisibility Cloak: One of the abilities Vera can develop, depending on her conversation choices. The effect is temporary and is negated by touching something or using another ability. Stina has the ability too, given that she's a former special agent, and uses it to sneak up on Vera and push her off the platform.
  • Living Lie Detector: The Biometric Analyzer power allows Vera to scan another person's heartbeat. This can be used to catch someone in a lie by detecting anomalies in the pulse. It's generally a good idea to keep it on when talking to pretty much everyone. She later learns, however, that one character had a special implant that sent fake biofeedback, allowing them to lie undetected.
  • The Lost Lenore: Alex, Vera's husband. He died shortly before the story's beginning and she is still very much hurting from the loss. She can possibly come to terms with his death in one of the endings.
  • Mind Control: Of the powers Vera can potentially unlock, allowing her to take over people and remote control them. It is implied from Gabriel's dialogue that Stina also has some version of this ability, albeit less powerful.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has three endings, depending on Vera's choices on the final day. She can awaken the AI or destroy it. In the latter case, she can either adopt Katarina's baby or put him into the foster system.
  • Nanotechnology: Every special agent is infused with Blue, a substance that consists of nanobots that permeate the agent's body and give them a number of abilities, typically based on their personality. Thus, no two agents' abilities are the same. Since nanobots are controlled by the person's neurons, the tech isn't classified as AI, but only special agents are permitted to use Blue. Retired special agents keep their Blue, since the nanobots are too firmly integrated to be removed.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: A justified case, as "the Blue" nanomachines, which grants the agents of the Central Bureau their superhuman powers, takes time to "settle in", and responds sympathetically to the personality of the agent, resulting in them adapting to the agent over time. To begin with, Vera, a newly minted-agent who has just recently been given "the Blue", only has three standard powers: Forensic Scanner (which can be set to a general scan or to scan for something in the database), Biometric Analyser (measures a person's heartbeat and can be used to catch someone in a lie), Muscle Boost (a short burst of Super Strength). Three more abilities will be unlocked later, one per day. Two of them are dependent on Vera's conversation choices throughout the game: she can be empathetic, assertive, or analytical. Day 2 abilities are Amnesia (empathetic, can induce temporary short-term memory loss), Energize (assertive, creates a momentary burst of energy in electrical objects and people), and Enhanced Vision (analytical, telescopic zoom and night vision). Day 3 abilities include Mimicry (empathetic, can copy another's appearance and voice), Mind Control (assertive, self-explanatory), and Cloak (analytical, temporary invisibility). The final ability is Regeneration. This allows for multiple playthroughs, especially since a single continuous save precludes Save Scumming.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Averted, Stina isn't at all certain that Vera was killed after she pushed her off the platform into the river below, partly because she knows that Vera's body has been enhanced by Blue, same as hers. This is why she frames Vera and convinces the cops to arrest her the moment she appears. Indeed, Vera's next ability to unlock is Regeneration, allowing her to survive.
  • Nordic Noir: It's a murder mystery, set in an unspecified but likely Scandinavian location, given that the town's name is Nordsund and most people have Nordic names.
  • Norse Mythology: Justified, given the Nordic Noir setting. Valter's robot helper is named "Nisse", which is a type of helpful domestic spirit or gnome in Scandinavian folklore. Maja calls her AI "Huldra", which is a forest spirit in Nordic mythology, while her protocol to wipe all data is called "Fenrir", after the monstrous wolf that will help start Ragnarok.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Averted. Some players may expect Vera to end up with the handsome local cop Gabriel, but she still hasn't recovered from the recent loss of her husband Alex.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Katarina and Karl thought they were safe talking their plans out on a park bench at the market square. However, Lennart recorded their conversation.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Downplayed. The door to Katarina's apartment is locked with a password that has to do with the date of her arrival at Nordsund.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The entire Clear My Name subplot would have been avoided had Gabriel and another police officer mentioned that Vera never left the police station on the night that Lennart was murdered. If Anderson is in charge, he will Lampshade this.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Commissary Kurt Anderson is the chief of Nordsund's police. He is reasonable and cooperative with Vera, understanding that his department is not equipped to handle a murder case, considering how incredibly rare they are in this quiet town. In the empathetic route, Stina manages to force him to step down through political maneuvering, and has him replaced with the somewhat less reasonable Gabriel, in order to enable her frameup of Vera to go more smoothly.
    • The head of the Nordsund's branch of the Church of EPOS. He doesn't complain when Vera sneaks into the building and calmly answers her questions, seeking to distance the Church from any suspicion by being helpful to the investigation.
  • Robot Buddy: Valter, the Nordsund's robot tinkerer, has Nisse, although he is more of a fancy ventriloquist dummy than an actual robot.
    • To a lesser degree, Valter also has Uffe, his "concierge robot" who waves in greetings and goodbyes at everyone who enters or exits his shop.
  • Secret Room: Vera finds a hidden lab at the museum which she opens using a Bookcase Passage technique.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Vera finds one at the junkyard, with the entrance hidden inside a fridge. It leads to Katarina's hideout.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A scene sees Vera walking up to Dr. Persson and greeting him, while he has his back turned. Persson emits a yelp and tells Vera "not to sneak up on [him] like that", in a sly reference to the intro scene of The Secret of Monkey Island.
    • Drinking coffee in the police station for the first time, Vera comments that it is "a damn good coffee".
  • The Singularity: This is what Maja and Katarina hoped to achieve by growing a child in a tank and infusing his body with Blue, before loading the AI Huldra into it.
  • Super Senses: Vera's Forensic Scanner highlights and scans anything significant to the case. It can also look for specific shapes, DNA, or fingerprints, if they've been entered into the database. She can also potentially get Enhanced Vision, which adds telescopic zoom and Innate Night Vision.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Stina Rooth, being an experienced former agent of the Central Bureau, occasionally offers advice on the investigation to Vera, who is still somewhat of a rookie. Stina, however, turns out to have long gone off the deep end in fighting The Conspiracy.
  • Two Dun It: It's initially assumed that all three murders are related and may have been committed by the same culprit. In fact, the third victim is the murderer of the first two, which is why his partner murdered him afterwards.
  • Used Future: Given the game's After the End setting, this is justified. Everything looks old and fixed-up. The train Vera takes to Nordsund in the prologue has some broken windows, which have been covered up by wooden planks. The shiniest things are in the pre-Collapse museum, including things like a Flying Car and a Robot Soldier (all non-functional, of course).
  • Ventriloquism: Valter, the proprietor of the Robot Shop, likes to engage in this using his robot Nisse. When questioned, he admits that none of his robots have microchips (which would have been highly illegal), so it's just a trick. He frequently helps out Dr. Persson at the hospital by entertaining the children with Nisse.
  • Virtual Ghost: Vera keeps seeing the ghost of her late husband Alex with increasing frequency. She assumes it's a side effect of the Blue. Except "Alex" is strangely insistent that she activate the AI Huldra, so he can come back to life, and his voice gets more electronic in timbre the more excited he is.
  • We Can Rule Together: Before the final shootout, the Big Bad offers Vera to join their cause.
  • Widow Woman: Vera recently lost her husband Alex and still appears to be in mourning. In at least one ending, she finally comes to terms with his passing and moves on.


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