The Enigma Machine
A puzzle inside…
Curious as to how an AI might some day think? Want to know what goes on inside an android brain? How about trying to discover how such a mind may feel? Do androids, indeed, dream of electric sheep, as Philip K Dick once supposed? For the answers to those questions, and many more besides, you may want to check out The Enigma Machine.
The Enigma Machine is set in the year 2055, though greets us with a purely 80’s aesthetic. Gameplay is of the mystery/puzzle solving variety, with a touch of cyber horror thrown in for the final third. Players take the guise of a prospective RADE agent. You’re trying to pass a simulated test in order to nail a job with Enigma Technologies. The test in question will see you attempt to decontaminate a corrupted AI. Pass the test, and you get the job. Easy peasy. Of course, meddling with an AI mind is never going to be so simple is it? Especially when the AI decides you’re no longer welcome…
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT GOES ON IN THE MIND OF AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?
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With DREAMSCAPE, we can represent the mind of an AI through an interactive 3D environment that we can explore!
As I’ve mentioned, The Enigma Machine takes an 80’s vibe. The terminal interface has a grainy overlay, like an old VHS. There are 3D exploration levels, which harken back to mid-nineties first person point and click games. And so, throughout your game, you will switch between both games modes. First, quizzing the AI within a terminal, then jumping into a 3D visualisation of the AI mind itself. It’s within this 3D map that the puzzle elements of the game exist. You will explore, and interact with objects, in the hope of finding a code. Get the code, return to your terminal and input it, and you’ll progress the story. The codes in question act to decontaminate the AI, which is represented by a progress bar on the terminal. Reach 100%, and you’ve got a clean AI.
We’ve a bit of HAL 9000 going on here…
Aesthetically, The Enigma Machine is beautiful. Not beautiful in a AAA game way, but the art style captures perfectly the developers intent. That being, to ensnare the player into the role of this RADE agent. The narrative follows you conversing with the AI, and continues throughout. It becomes most interesting when the corruption begins to untangle the AIs mind. Old memories from past iterations of itself come to the surface, and the tension is ramped up dramatically. What begins as an almost cute conversation, eventually delves into genuinely unnerving cyber horror. I can honestly say the final act is one of my most memorable gaming experiences of this year.
Cracking the Code
All told, you’ll spend no more than two hours playing through The Enigma Machine. I’m generally useless at puzzle games, and I even managed it in less than that time. It isn’t, however, the length of the story that matters. More important is the quality of the narrative, and the manner of the telling. The Enigma Machine created a genuine sense of intrigue for me, enough to keep driving the plot forward, and instilled, at different times, both fear and empathy, in equal measure. Sure, you can finish it an hour or two. But for half the price of a cinema ticket, this game will leave a lasting impression, beyond what a lot of big budget games would.
The Enigma Machine is available now through their official website: TheEnigmaMachine, on Windows PC, and MAC, for a paltry €5. Developer Enigma Corp is also planning releases on Humble Store, Steam, and GOG in the near future. GamEir.
And just remember, the game’s not over until you see the credits…