Sep 25, 2017 Last Updated 10:18 PM, Sep 22, 2017

Empathy: Path of Whispers Review

Published in Adventure
Read 1710 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)

...clouds roll slowly overhead, and what appears to be black ash falls steadily from above...

Empathy: Path of Whispers is an atmospheric, exploration-driven game. Through interacting with various objects and the world itself, you also interact with the past, and with the emotions attached to each of these items. Your mission is to uncover that history and the details of those who inhabited this now-abandoned world.

After pressing some red button that, one might initially assume, wiped out the earth’s inhabitants, you find yourself in a bedroom. The overall color scheme evokes somber, dreary emotions. Gazing out of the window atop a staircase reveals an oddly-architectured, monolithic remnant of a building. At each turn, I felt mesmerized by the detail of the graphics; in the sky, clouds roll slowly overhead, and what appears to be black ash falls steadily from above. Not too far away, there appears a bent over statue of a man, carrying something upon his shoulders. My initial thought was Atlas Shrugged. Interestingly enough, it turns out that he’s carrying a park named “Atlas Park,” and the park itself carries a captivating history (that shan’t be spoiled here).

Experiencing the world as it currently is

The method by which you interact with objects is interesting. You must pull out a radar device, adjust through a few modes of wavelengths, and adjust the wavelength itself until the red (your current wavelength setting) matches and overlays perfectly with the white (the target setting). There are three modes to adjust: A, W, and F. I imagine these represent the amplitude, (pulse) width, and frequency, respectively, of the wavelength. Even though a controller will work for most functions, there is no button for sprint, nor can you operate the radar while adjusting the wavelength. It seems a mouse is optimal, for I could not get my touchpad to scroll to adjust the wavelength (but it would scroll through the modes), as this requires a mouse wheel. I hoped for a way to remap what the buttons on my controller did, but could not find an option to do so.

Once you have a firm hold on how this system works, it begins to be more intuitive. This radar will also point you towards more items with which you may interact. Adjusting the height at which you aim the radar will reveal the height of the object relative to where you are currently, along with the shape of the object; this is immensely helpful. Part of the fun, though, consists of experiencing the world as it currently is, and to walk around and admire the sights. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Empathy occurs if you forget where a certain object is, particularly since there is no map which you can consult (at least, from what I could tell). While individual areas aren’t that big, disorientation is, at times, problematic.

After each time you interact with an object, you get a glimpse of someone in the past who’s interacted with the object. There are only a certain number of items that appear on the radar at any one time, so the progression seems linear in this sense. Once you find these objects, a new set of items will appear on the radar, forcing you to revisit the area you just explored, providing a new set of perspectives. You do, however, get to investigate new areas; sometimes this requires certain items to operate a machine, or to open a door.

The past persists into the present

Note that not everything with which you may interact appears on the radar – even more reason to explore. This reminds me, albeit vaguely (as it has been years), of the audio diaries in Bioshock. Each provides just a minor, personal glimpse of a perspective into a world through a broken window. The meaning is unclear and each, individually, only elucidates so much, but, the more items with which you interact, the more information you’ll ascertain regarding this strange world.

And what a strange world it is. As if exploring this abandoned universe wasn’t creepy enough already, with its general sense of dread and eeriness, you are treated to spine-tingling sound effects, such as children laughing at a small playground — presumably echoes from the past. Then, you find items that force you to relive the emotions associated with the object; the emotions are still there, and the past persists into the present.

There was one point where I triggered a switch to cause a bridge-like object to come down, allowing me to walk across it from one house to another. I decided to take a break and close the game. When I returned, I was still in that building, but this bridge was no longer down. I searched around this house for over ten minutes, but could not find a way back, nor any switch to trigger. I was, it seemed, stuck in this house, with no way back to the rest of the world. I’m unsure if I overlooked something, but I ended up just scraping my save and starting again. It was pretty early in the story, so it didn’t take long to get back to this point. In another instance, interacting with an object caused the application to crash; but this problem did not recur on the second time with the same item.

8

The Verdict

I typically do not play this genre, but between the graphics and exploring this abandoned world and piecing together what happened, I found Empathy: Path of Whispers to be incredible. I highly recommend Empathy, even if you might not usually play an exploration-driven title. (I also recommend playing this with a good, reliable mouse to save yourself from some hassle.) You won’t be disappointed with this one.

Chris Hubbard

A fan of RPGs above other genres, Chris has been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Some of the games that had the most influence on his gaming preferences have been the Final Fantasy and the Diablo series. More recently, most of Chris' gaming time has been going toward Gems of War and Clicker Heroes (give it a try, it can be addicting), along with open-world RPGs such as Skyrim and ESO. He's also dabbled with RPG Maker software, and it is a goal of his to someday create an RPG.

Related items

  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm Review

    Life is Strange: Before the Storm plays like a cutscene with a point-and-click element that is a joy; no button combinations or consulting a grainy minimap: Daedalus himself designed the levels. The title deals with weighty issues wrapped in stunning visuals and peppered with a comprehensive soundtrack by real artists. This addition to the franchise is a must-play.

  • We Need To Go Deeper Early Access Interview

    The OPN interview with Deli Interactive. We Need to Go Deeper is a 2-4-player cooperative submarine roguelike set in a Verne-inspired undersea universe. In the game, you and your crew must embark on many voyages into a mysterious undersea trench known as The Living Infinite.

  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 Review

    With Divinity: Original Sin 2, Larian Studios creates a title that brings together the best aspects of table-top and classic roleplaying games. The graphics, along with the score and voice acting, are painstakingly detailed and are truly awe-inspiring. Every decision you make, from character creation to dialogue, will affect your experience, giving you a slightly different playthrough every time. This is not a game for the casual player, however. The sheer size of the game and the difficulty of some battles will require dozens of hours and have you loading quicksaves time and again. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is primed to be on many all-time favorites lists; few, if any, have succeeded to this degree.

More in this category: RiME Review »

Latest Shows

Mantis Burn Raci…

The OPN interview showcasing the release of VooFoo Studios' 'Battle cars' DLC for the fast-paced, competitive, top-down racer, 'Mantis Burn Racing.' A conversation with Creative Di...

We Need To Go De…

The OPN interview with Deli Interactive. We Need to Go Deeper is a 2-4-player cooperative submarine roguelike set in a Verne-inspired undersea universe. In the game, you and your c...

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

FIFA 18

Score incredible goals in FIFA 18 as new movement and finishing animations unlock more fluid strikin...

Total War: WARHA…

Sequel to the award-winning Total War: WARHAMMER, Total War: WARHAMMER II introduces a breathtaking ...

XCOM 2: War of t…

War of the Chosen adds so favorably to the original XCOM 2 experience that fans should consider it near-perfect as well as essential. Although some features in XCOM 2: War of the C...

Tangledeep Early…

Tangledeep is like the platonic ideal of RPGs: it has everything you want in a dungeon crawling roguelike without all the mess of outdated graphics or frustrating UI. This gem evok...

Divinity: Origin…

With Divinity: Original Sin 2, Larian Studios creates a title that brings together the best aspects of table-top and classic roleplaying games. The graphics, along with the score a...

Project CARS 2 R…

Project CARS 2 sets the benchmark for what a true racing sim release should be. With exquisite graphics, exceptional realism, and palpable thrill, the gauntlets have been thrown do...