Silence – Review

Update – 15/11/

A Daedalic representative has taken to the Steam forums and provided a workaround for the caption issue.

He says

If you scale down the resolution, captions are shown again. A fix will hopefully be available soon.

More as we get it.


Original

Deep in an underground bunker, during a violent air raid, you can just about make out the silent wailing of a young girl who seems to have lost everything.

All her brother Noah can do is helplessly look on and try to help her forget, even if only for a few minutes. Somehow he needs to create an escapism for them both.

Their shared haven is a place that might be familiar to some of you. Calamar – or Silence – is home to elegance as much as it is horror, governed by a false queen who has inspired legions of seekers to do her bidding. Many years later, Daedalic have brought us back to a world that has similarities and differences to the one we once knew. Either way, The Whispered World remains glorious.

Young Renie gets lost in Silence and it is up to brother Noah to find her. But it’s there that Noah stumbles across a rebellion effort attempting to overthrow the False Queen hidden behind the walls of the throne room, surrounded by masked Seekers who are terrorising this beautiful, yet broken world.

silence_city

Quite why Silence has lost The Whispered World 2 tag is a little bitzarre as this game is clearly set in the same universe, but there are some marked differences which we should point out.

Like The Whispered World before it, Silence is a point and click adventure, but it’s one that has been modernised to suit all platforms. In fact, you’re almost better served playing the game with a controller than a mouse.

You can alternate between several different characters across the games’ range of chapters by moving around with the left stick, then interacting with various points of interest with the tap of a button. In some cases, you’ll also need to hold the button then move the stick at the same time, whether it’s to push some rocks out of the way, or climb up some treacherous vines.

silence_monument

You’ll even need to play several mini balance games in time-sensitive situations. Silence is reminiscent of the Sierra adventures of old where you can walk the wrong way or not react fast enough and be cornered by a Seeker. It creates a sense of danger at every turn, making you question your actions and decisions. This is particularly highlighted with Renie who tends to do hazardous, potentially harmful things that elicit both humorous and nervy reactions.

Throughout the game, you’ll play as both Noah and Renie, but you’ll also be reintroduced to fan favourite, Spot. While you have base interactions with the two children – each having very individual personalities that drive the narrative forward – the caterpillar offers some fascinating gameplay additions that change the way you approach the puzzles. The cute green bundle of love can both bloat himself up to the size of a balloon or turn flat as a pancake, which enables him to creep through small spaces and float through the air. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s also worth noting that Silence doesn’t have a set inventory system, rather you collect items and then use them on the relevant interactive spot to solve puzzles and further progress the story.

silence_renie_janus_spot

Daedalic have crafted a humorous, hearty adventure that includes several nods and winks to the original, as well as classic 80’s fantasy like Labyrinth, Never Ending Story, and Willow. It really spoke to my childhood in a way that Stranger Things did earlier this year due to a sense of authenticity. Although the game does have a somewhat concerning obsession with putting its cast into drug-induced comas by having them lick mushrooms and inhale aromatic fumes, it’s done in charming, mostly whimsical ways.

Distinct charm is also brought out further by the games’ beautiful roving 3D scenery and elegant visual style. It’s a major contrast to The Whispered World’s cartooney, hand drawn aesthetic, but it shows a whole other dimension to this magical world and breathes new life into a familiar cast.

There are some drawbacks, though. For starters, there were absolutely no subtitles in my review build, an issue carried across from the demo. And this proved to be increasingly frustrating as sometimes the audio and effects drowned out the vocals when the actors tended to mutter. You may be better served playing this one with headphones in as voices did come through much clearer, though I still missed some lines of dialogue.

silence_renie_spot

And as has been the case with previous Daedalic games, the voice acting falls flat at times. The delivery of certain lines seems to lack desired tension and occasionally detracts from the emotion resonating through the scene. Silence deals with some challenging themes and sadly, the impact is occassionally lost when actors stonewall lines. Unfortunately, this isn’t helped by some of the bad translation

However, this is one of the best examples of a modern adventure game that bottles and corks hallmarks of LEC, Revolution and Sierra in their heyday. It has an enriching fantasy world, there are an eclectic cast of characters, the narrative moves at a steady pace, puzzles generally work well, and there is a control scheme here which opens the experience up to everyone.

Silence may just be Daedalic’s finest hour and – minor gripes aside – is the modernisation of the adventure game we’ve all been waiting for.

Pros
+ One of the most enriching fantasy game worlds we’ve seen
+ Great control scheme, accessible to all
+ Filled with charm and brought to life with beautiful visual style

Cons
– Some poor English translation mean lines fall flat.
– Actors offer some half hearted delivery in voice overs
– Absolutely no subtitles in this build

Silence

8.5 out of 10

Platform review on :- PC

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,

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