I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Soundtrack, John Ottman, 1995
Point-and-click adventure games arguably reached the peak of their popularity during the mid-1990s. Not surprisingly, this period also saw the genre daring to branch out into previously untapped, darker subject matter – although whether this was always handled with the necessary maturity and taste is up for debate. The best known example of these edgier adventure games might be Sierra’s Phantasmagoria, but arguably more confronting and thought-provoking was I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.
Based on Harlan Ellison’s short story of the same name, the game presents a bleak sci-fi scenario in which a super-computer eternally tortures humanity’s final five survivors following a nuclear holocaust, simply for its own pleasure and out of infinite hatred for mankind. Having Ellison himself involved in the creation of the game made sure it featured far better writing than most other video games. However, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream suffered from some design flaws that held it back from becoming a genre classic. Still, even decades after its release, the game stands out for its unflinching look at some immensely depressing subject matter, articulated through the repugnant yet tragic life stories of the five survivors players control during the game.