Stay For the Story
Existing somewhere between life and death, Silence is a world filled with imaginative detail. Encompassed in fertile imagery, this adventure game puts the focus on story with gameplay as a secondary element.
Silence is all about Noah and his frightened sister Renie. Originally taking refuge in a small bunker from falling bombs, the pair finds themselves in this strange land of limbo filled with vibrant locals and interesting themes. Originally created with a mouse and keyboard, this console version uses the left stick to control movement while the right is used to highlight objects. Puzzles are never difficult to solve and most are completed in a single screen. This should ease newcomers to the adventure genre as there is no complicated inventory system and obtuse solutions here; the dual analog stick system also works well. Instead, the entire experience is essentially one slow paced interactive storybook with an occasional puzzle that gets in the way.
Even though the focus is on telling a story, the final product ends up being a little disjointed and actually rather awkward. Not that it isn’t good, it is just weird to encounter characters doing extreme things then have them suddenly disappear. For example, early in the game, the player will meet a female warrior who is priming bombs to blow up a bridge but has no issue blowing herself up or facing a pack of Seekers, these creepy nightmare-like creatures, with only a dagger. Noah, the main character, is also a bit of a coward and is portrayed as this nerdy guy just trying to do the right thing but says “damn” and “crap” every other sentence. Some of the dialog and situations are just bizarre even for a game taking place in a dream world. On occasion, the player will be presented with a question in which there are two available responses. One response will be correct and advance the story while the other will result in a game over. While the correct response is almost always obvious, it usually gets in the way of the story telling and can’t help but wonder that the game would be better without these choices.
In addition to the story, the main area of focus is on the visuals. There is no question that Silence is a beautiful game. Using a hand-painted aesthetic, everything looks and feels like a 3D visual novel come to life, almost as if you are playing some stunning cartoon. Even the soundtrack is gorgeous and fits the overall mood of the visuals. The voice acting is also in a higher tier of quality and is better than expected. Since the game carries such highly detailed visuals and an outstanding soundtrack, the tradeoff is two fold First, the file size is over 6gb which is rather large for a Switch title so make sure you have enough space on your microSD card. Second, every load screen takes a significant amount of time. This is most unfortunate if you “die” by selecting the wrong option in one of the choice options and stands as the most annoying aspect of this eShop download.
Players expecting addicting gameplay will be disappointed in Silence but should walk away entertained by the insanely detailed visuals and captivating, although ridiculous, story. Striking some powerful emotions, this title’s narrative might take your breath away and leave you in silence. Too bad the gameplay won’t do the same.
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