I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
“I Think Therefore I AM”
Based on Harlan Ellison’s novella with the same title, I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream might be one of the strangest tales to transit from paper to computer code.
Telling the story of a super-computer turned sentient, godlike and mad with power, it has all but destroyed humankind save for a handful of survivors. They are purposefully kept alive for the sadistic pleasures of AM – Allied Mastercomputer ( voiced by Ellison himself ) – who holds a special grudge against humanity. And much like in Dante’s Inferno, the tortures are based upon the individuals own lives and neurosis. These five unlucky playthings are Ellen, a kind but anxious woman with a dark secret, Nimdok the Nazi doctor, Benny, a brutish fellow turned by AM into an ape-like creature, Ted, a former con artist turned extremely paranoid, and Gorrister the suicidal loner haunted by his past guilts.
After more than a century of anguish and humiliation, AM decides it’s time for a new game, which is where the player comes in. You control each character in a usual adventure game interface, with commands like Look, Walk, Use, Talk, etc. Each of these character paths stand on its own, with success in all five linked to the goal of defeating AM. Every character must explore the places designed by AM for them to confront their personal terrors. For example, Nimdok has to confront the killings in a Nazi death camp in order to redeem himself for his past crimes.
Each of the game’s characters brings his or her own psychological baggage with them, which plays part in the sort of moral decisions you’ll have to make. Although rendered in a colorful visual style, I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream is a rare instance where the adventure isn’t family-friendly, a far cry from all the Monkey Islands and millionth Lucas Arts game peppered under the same banner. It’s instead dark, usually gruesome and with no ‘good ending’ in sight. But none of this is slighting it – quite the contrary. It’d be hard not to recommend, if for those moments of depth that nag at the subconscious for what feels like forever.
System Requirements: 486/66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 20 MB HDD, MS-DOS