The gaming industry is always coming up with new and exciting ways to play games. Rather than relying simply on thumb and finger dexterity and reflex speed, more games are starting to bring another factor into play - the human voice.
Voice recognition in gaming can come in two main forms - either by recognizing any sound that comes through your microphone, or interpreting players’ speech patterns into specific words or phrases to control an element of the game. This can result in some uniquely exhilarating or terrifying moments of gameplay - from barking commands to your troops in combat, or having to stay completely silent to hide from monsters in a horror game like Alien: Isolation.
10 In Verbis Virtus
This action-adventure allows players to unleash their inner Harry Potter. In this world of magic, players must use their voices to cast spells, solve puzzles, and escape horrifying demons in the dungeons. Fans of the boy wizard and anyone who plays a mage in Dungeons & Dragons, this one is for you.
This indie game from 2015 was entirely built in the Unity engine, and plays similarly to the first-person view in The Elder Scrolls series. Characters in the game look like they come straight from a World of Warcraft expansion, but with a blend of dark fantasy Lovecraftian horror.
9 One Hand Clapping
This sore throat-inducing 2D platformer requires players to vocalize - whether they sing, hum, shout, or scream - into their microphone to move and jump through the levels. There are also rhythm elements to the game that means players must clap or even beatbox to defeat the silence and emerge victorious.
Players don’t need an intricate setup or even any kind of vocal talent to play - just a microphone and a sense of rhythm to play. Released in Early Access in June 2021 for PC and consoles, this cute indie game received high praise and critical acclaim, receiving many international awards when it was first announced back in 2018.
8 Tom Clancy’s EndWar
This retro tactical RTS game from the Tom Clancy franchise was first released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PSP, and Xbox 360, before eventually being launched for Windows in 2009. Players use their voices to command their armies and control units across the combat zone, a revolutionary step for RTS games of the era.
Microphones could also be used to chat via online play for multiplayer cooperative mode. However, as the fanbase moved onto newer and more advanced multiplayers, the game removed support for the co-op multiplayer mode back in 2018.
7 Hey You, Pikachu!
Before the likes of Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS, there was Hey You, Pikachu! This Pokemon spinoff game for Nintendo 64 was welcomed to the world in Japan in 1998, before releasing in North America a few years later in November 2000.
Players used the N64 hardware accessory known as the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) to communicate with Pikachu and also guide the main character through the game’s world to collect items. The game had a fairly mixed reception from players, with a 57 percent score on Metacritic after launch.
6 Binary Domain
One of the more modern entries on this list, Binary Domain is a third-person shooter released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows in 2012. Inspired by earlier games like SOCOM, players use their voice to say simple phrases to command their comrades through battle, such as the typical “cover me” and “fire” commands.
While this is one of the newer games to utilize full voice recognition commands, it was by no means successful. Review sites and online forums like Reddit are full of criticism for the janky voice recognition system, which sometimes would misinterpret or not even listen to player commands.
This unique 2006 game combined tactical warfare with pinball. Yes, you read that correctly. This was also one of the last GameCube games published by Nintendo, followed only by The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess later that year.
The bizarre gameplay set in feudal Japan requires players to use their voices to command soldiers to move out of the way of the Odama, a giant pinball that destroys everything in its path. While it was semi-popular with fans, the game overall felt hindered by the GameCube’s limited hardware.
Released by Sony and Konami for the PlayStation 2 back in 2003 for Japanese audiences, Lifeline launched for the rest of the world in March 2004. In this space RPG adventure, players used their voices primarily for commanding on-screen characters through speech recognition.
Lifeline is rather infamous for falling flat in terms of sales and reviews, with many players criticizing the unpredictable speech recognition mechanics of the games, sometimes resulting in hilariously frustrating situations. However, many fans have called this a cult classic for being way ahead of its time.
Popular indie ghost-hunting horror game Phasmophobia is a shining example of how modern horror games should use voice recognition to their advantage. Not only does the game recognize any sound that comes through the microphone, meaning players must hide in silence during ghost hunts, the game requires specific questions to be spoken aloud to find ghost evidence through the spirit box.
The latest Phasmophobia Exposition update means that solo players can still be heard by the in-game ghosts even when the push-to-talk mode is switched on. Certain ghost types like the Yokai also get angrier when more people are speaking nearby, and are more likely to hunt when sound levels get too high.
This bizarre Tamagotchi-esque virtual pet game was created for the Sega Dreamcast back in 1999 (2000 outside of Japan). Using the integrated Dreamcast microphone, players must use voice commands to feed, interact with, and care for their Seaman, a fish with an eerily human-looking face.
Similar to Tamagotchi, players are required to check in with Seaman every day in real-time, or risk the pet’s death. Each aspect of Seaman must be figured out by the player, with no help or tutorials whatsoever. The game earned itself a cult following for its dark humor and strange aesthetics, as well as narration from Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy.
Spooky horror survival game Albedo released on itch.io, and sets players in an abandoned mansion, with only their voice to save them from the supernatural beings within. Unlike other similar horror games like Amnesia, players must exclusively use their voices to progress through the environment and interact with obstacles and puzzles.
Throughout the game, new powers can be unlocked as spells or commands, and must be used wisely in order to proceed. The terrifying story deepens with each moment as players uncover more about the secrets of the manor, with players requiring an equal measure of brains and bravery to survive and escape.
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