Narrative games are frequently about pre-scripted conversations and the path the player takes through them. What if that path was driven by a bot, though? And what if that bot could talk to God?
That's the thrust of Interview with the Whisperer, a new game surprise-dropped today by Deconstructeam. The studio's made several story-driven games in the past, like the unrelated survival adventure Gods Will Be Watching and the futuristic The Red Strings Club. Interview with the Whisperer feels like an evolution of those concepts, mixed with some really cool new tech.
The main drive of Interview with the Whisperer is that you're a journalist who's traveled to the Galician countryside to chat with an old man who claims he can speak to God through his radio. It also requires an internet connection, because your subject's responses are being dictated through Chatbot technology—you literally type in questions, and the man responds in kind.
It's really cool, even if in my short time poking around to find different responses, it didn't always click. The bot responds best to very direct, clear questions—basically, don't get flowery. "Aside from radio, what other activities do you partake in to pass the time" might not elicit as clear a response as "what are your hobbies," and sometimes my question resulted in a non-sequitur of an answer. (This is explained in-universe as the man, Manuel, sometimes having trouble understanding people.) It doesn't seem to be serving bespoke, unique responses, rather just interpreting your question and either returning a fitting answer or asking for clarification, but it works; if you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to steer an interview, this is it.
Throughout it all, your smartphone on the side updates with notes and tidbits to help prompt you in the right direction. It oddly reminds me a lot of an FMV game from a few years back I enjoyed, called The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker. That game featured real-life actors and Cthulhu mythos, but utilized a similar method for typing in prompts to discover more information. Sam Barlow's Her Story or the recent Telling Lies are other good examples of the kind of tech Deconstructeam is using to drive the interview.
Even after just a short amount of time, I can already tell I really like what Interview with the Whisperer is doing. It's unclear whether there's a definite "end" or if it's up to the player, similar to Her Story, though it's billed as a short game. It's also completely free to download on Itch, so you really don't have an excuse for not giving it a shot, and you really should.