As point and click adventures go IHNMAIMS is certainly one of the darker and most out there ones. Based on the short story of the same name is follows the story of five humans who are held captive by a group an artificial intelligence known as AM. AM has destroyed the earth and now keeps the five humans alive for its own sadistic pleasure. They are held immortal and eternal tortured, so far they have been tormented for 109 years.
The game works in the traditional point and click way. You move around with the mouse and click on times to pick up and things to interact with. There are dialogue trees to work though as well and unlike many point and click games you can die. AIM won’t let you really die though and instead will drop you back at the start of the adventure so it pays to save often.
However, each of the chapters can be completed in numerous ways with different actions being carried out throughout. Your characters have a spiritual health bar which increases whenever they do something good and decreases when something bad happens. The state of the bar at the end of the level along with the route you have taken to completion results in determining if you have been successful or not (something you won’t know for sure until the final act).
Taking control of each of the five captives in turn, players must solve a mystery relating to each of them. These act as self-contained mini adventures and change dramatically in content. One minute you might be wandering around a fantasy castle making deals with the devil while another adventure is set in a prison camp where horrific experiments are being carried out on the inmates. The one thing that does stay consistent is just how dark it all is though.
There is no humour here and each of the characters has to overcome nasty things in order to make it through their section. Everything relates to things in their past and they are certainly not for the faint of heart. One of the characters main aims is to commit suicide so that gives you a hint as to the tone. It’s also very easy to make mistakes which lead you down the darker sides of the adventure. A number of times thing happened that surprised us or we didn’t even know could be avoided and this can be frustrating.
Frustration is one of the biggest problems with IHNMAIMS. It’s wildly changing frame of reference within the different setups for the adventures made us feel that much of the time we were simply fumbling our way through it instead of having great revelations. Often using items on things when you’re stuck can have a bad effect or bring the story to an end without any warning and when you are intricately trying to get something sorted it’s beyond annoying. In one scene we accidentally clicked on something in the background and our player was immediately dragged back to the hub world by AIM without any warning or chance to abort our action.
Overall, IHNMAIMS is a strange one. The story is excellent and the dark tone and menacing atmosphere are something you don’t normally find in this type of game. The multiple routes are also good (in theory) and it does a lot right. However, it never really clicked with us. Without the humour it dragged a bit and the fragmented stories of the captives and changes in tone and design didn’t really help this. A lot of time we were solving things without really knowing why we were doing it and I would be surprised if we dived back in to find the alternative ways through the game. It’s certainly worth playing through once though and one ever point and click fan should at least try.