One person is a 13-year-old girl, another is a ghost. That’s a hell of a premise.
The Music Machine is not a jump scare factory, and you won’t spend your time running from monsters. At least, it hasn’t done that in the 20 minutes or so I’ve spent with it. No, The Music Machine is much more subtle and mysterious, despite its alarming setup.
It’d be easy to imagine The Music Machine was little more than a murder simulator, one where you’re given an opportunity to subject a poor girl to harm over and over, but it’s nothing like that.
In the game, you’re Quintin and Haley—they’re both inhabiting Haley’s body. It’s not clear why Quintin’s taken up residence in Haley’s body, but it appears that’s been the awkward situation for months now. Haley’s mind remains present, but Quintin is in complete control of what Haley does. At one point, when Haley protests about a decision, Quintin uses his omnipotence to smack her.
The story opens with our bizarre pairing arriving on an island where a series of murders have occurred. As with most everything else in The Music Machine, the reasons behind this are fuzzy. The opening moments are spent watching the two establish not only their dynamic but the stakes:
Haley: You don’t actually want to kill me.
Quintin: Yes, I do.
Haley: You haven’t thrown me in front of a bus. You haven’t had me stab myself. Or shoot myself. You haven’t had me jump off a cliff. Or anything like that. You’ve just been dragging me around. To places like this. I mean, what are you hoping to find?
Quintin: I’m hoping to find whoever poked those people full of holes and left them in a pile.
We also learn about how this metaphysical kidnapping takes its toll on each person. For example, Haley was a smoker. She constantly wants a cigarette, as she’s going through withdrawal. But Quintin isn’t a smoker, and despite Haley’s repeated requests to have a cigarette, he denies her.
Haley: I am -dying- for a cigarette, Quintin.
Quintin: I would have thought after three months you’d be over that.
Haley: Well, I’m not. Just go away, let me smoke, and in thirty or forty years I’ll die of lung cancer. You get your revenge and I don’t have someone else controlling my body for the rest of my life.
Quintin: Girls your age shouldn’t smoke, Haley.
Haley: Well, girls my age shouldn’t be puppeted by vengeful ghosts, either.
By interacting with the world around you, more dialogue is prompted between the two. We learn about how they handle watching TV, talking to other people, and gain insights into their feelings on subjects like life and religion. I didn’t make much “progress” in the time I spent with The Music Machine—then again, it was hard to measure what exactly that would even mean—but I’d learned a lot about how fascinating, if inconvenient, their relationship is.
I don’t have much interest in what Quintin is after on this island, but I sure as hell want to know why he’s so determined to kill Haley. There’s a brief mention of “revenge” in the conversation above, which makes me wonder if Haley is somehow responsible for Quintin’s lack-of-life predicament. It’s hard to imagine what a 13-year-old girl could have done to deserve death, though.
Only one way to find out!
If you’d like to watch me play a few minutes of The Music Machine, go right ahead:
And if you’d like to play it, you can do so on Steam right now for $4.99.
You can reach the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.