Sunday, November 27, 2016

Silence Review!

                Daedalic Entertainment is part of the last stand against a gaming trend that has left adventure games behind. Deponia, Night of the Rabbit, Anna’s Quest, The Dark Eye and The Whispered World are some of the best point and click adventure games of this generation. But the tides are shifting and adapting to them is merely a matter of time. Silence is the latest expansion in Deadalic’s adventurous portfolio, but what kind of game is it really?
Silence is a world so beautiful that it can take your breath away, yet stands at the crossroad between life and death. Here, a boy goes into an adventure to find his little sister after the bunker they were hiding in was hit by a bomb. Noah is separated from Renie and finds himself back into this world where reality and dream converge. A world filled with hallucinogenic mushrooms, talking rocks and magic; where devilish creatures hunt the last human survivors between the ruins of older and newer civilizations. This is the setting for a bed time story about brotherly love, regained bravery, rebellion and sacrifice.
This view...

Noah reunites with his lovely caterpillar friend Spot, a dog in disguise with a knack for solving conundrums, and the two journey deeper into this shattered world to find and if need be, save Renie. But Renie doesn’t need to be saved as she is more than capable of taking care of her own. As the three come together they are entangled into a rebellion that wants to put an end to the False Queen’s reign of terror enforced through her seeker monsters. But Noah and Renie are not here to save the world of Silence…
A peculiar group.

The story resembles in part the interactivity of a Telltale game being driven by the action of the main characters through simplistic dialogues which prompt choices and consequences that don’t change much in the course of the action. There is variation in the responses triggered which cascade in dialogues that have slightly different outcomes. But while choices, how insignificant, tend to add depth to the narrative and to the characters’ development, the illusion of consequences based on the player’s action does not. For a hardcore fan of RPGs like myself, this focus on misleading players into thinking they set the narrative path is becoming a nuisance.
                The writing is comical and weird exposing a world that doesn’t really make sense, because it doesn’t have to. The plot is entangling and the two protagonists have to break the forth wall as a reminder of the story within the story and the reasons for their journey subtly tying Silence to its predecessor. But as captivating as the story is, the narrative is disjointed. Dialogues and actions feel misplaced or misused sometimes making as little sense as the world itself, but without serving a metaphorical purpose.  
Grown ups...

                The narrative alternates between the two protagonists with each new setting being a sequence of puzzles in the fashion of old school adventure games, but with a streamlined approach in how the puzzles are solved. There is no inventory anymore, which means that puzzles can be solved usually with items found within two screens’ distance requiring an unnecessary number of loading screens for unnecessarily easy tasks.
                The puzzles don’t pose much of a challenge, sometimes being as simplistic as finding an object and placing it in the right spot. But finding the objects scattered in an artistic décor of blending colors can be time consuming and Daedalic has been acknowledging this for some time. While pixel hunting might not be gone, players are provided with options. In this case there is a configurable hint button that can hand hold your way through a rather easy game or just highlight the interactable objects saving precious time from checking every inch of the screen.
What to do?!

                The huggable caterpillar, Spot, is the only mechanic in the game that adds some depth to the gameplay. With a volatile form which allows him to turn flat or spherical on demand, Spot can drink water, lava and what not to deal with the puzzles at hand in an adorable and intelligent way.
A bridge!

                Daedalic’s desire of making Silence a more cinematic experience has crippled the gameplay options to a great extent. The game is like a crisis of identity that I hope, for the sake of this genre, isn’t what Daedalic Entertainment is going through right now.
It's all about the achievement.

                The graphics of Silence combine 2D backgrounds with 3D characters and objects to hit the visual sweet spot of a fairy tale world. Partially animated and vividly colorful, the world of Silence is cunningly welcoming, never giving the impression of what it truly is, but never losing the sense of danger either. The visuals are gorgeous serving the thematic in the best possible way by exploiting the technological imperfection through an artistic direction meant to let your imagination turn back the clock to childhood.
In trouble

                As immersive as the visuals much of their transcending powers would have been diminished without the soothing music this game has. This could have been a dangerous mix capable of causing regret over the passage of time if it wasn’t for some of this game’s cringy dialogues and Renie’s annoying voice.

So cute!!

                Silence is a trip back on the memory lane to the bed time stories of childhood, hiding behind a charming world, silly characters and a fairy tale plot a much more delicate subject. But it’s trying so hard to appeal to multiple generations and this is probably its biggest sin.
                 At the transition point between two markets, Silence might be capturing the attention of older and younger adventurers alike, but I’m not sure which group will enjoy it the most.

+ Visuals are artistically beautiful
+ Atmospheric music
+ The story
+ Spot

- Overly simplified gameplay
- Many and long loading screens
- Some of the dialogues and voice acting


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