What happens when you blend artificial intelligence, alternate dimensions and ancient legends? Are you sure you're ready for the answer?
Submachine Universe is a point-and-click adventure reminiscent of the classic Myst titles. You explore numerous small locations linked together via teleportation devices. Along the way, you uncover notes left behind by other explorers that reveal a surreal tale.
Short of a few specific areas, you're free to roam around investigating everything. You'll eventually find new location coordinates to teleport to, though you're also very much allowed to put in random 3-digit numbers and try your luck.
Between the (semi)non-linear exploration and the variety of notes left for you to find, the story is uncovered in a piecemeal fashion. Many of these notes are explorers' theories, some of which contradict each other, leaving you to suss things out for yourself. While some will find this type of exposition frustrating, I felt like I was playing a video game version of Memento, and was fascinated by it. The idea that at some point in the past, other explorers were leaving their best guesses while attempting to unravel the same mysteries really makes the world feel genuine. It would be suspicious if everyone had the same theories on things like alternate dimensions, time travel and a supposed artificial intelligence that created it all.
I must also point out that this 2D Flash game has more atmosphere than it has any right to. The settings are often very spartan and there's no other characters to interact with. Combined with the background audio - which ranges from mechanical droning to creepy ambient soundscapes - you're left feeling both lonesome and a bit paranoid that you're being watched. That's a tough combination to pull off, but it's done pretty well here.
As with many titles, I didn't finish the game during my one-time stream. I'll be keeping Submachine Universe installed as a standby game that my viewers and I can continue exploring together.