Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Welcome to Silence, a beautiful and mystical world that rests between life and death. Silence is the sequel to Daedalic Entertainment’s 2014 point-and-click adventure, The Whispered World. Naturally, this review is full of spoilers for that game. In fact, I’m going to tell you the ending right now: In The Whispered World, you play as Sadwick the clown, who discovers, at the end of the game, that he is really Noah, a very ill boy teetering on the edge of death in the real world. In order to come back to the world of the living, he must bring an end to Silence.
Now, in Silence, you play as Noah and his little sister, Renie, in a real world being ravaged by war. While Noah recounts the tale of his time in Silence to his sister, the pair are brought there, together, though things have changed. The world is now haunted by creatures called Seekers–servants of a False Queen. Together with some new companions, they must find their way back to the real world.
Violence: There are few instances of violence in the game, though they are not portrayed graphically. The prologue of the game ends with a bomb dropping on the main characters. There is a scene where a character gets their arm stuck in a carnivorous plant (though nothing happens to his arm). In one instance, a character bloodlessly stabs a Seeker with a spear. Supposedly, you can die in the game, but you’d have to either do it on purpose or have really messed up. Though Silence is rating for “blood,” I did not encounter any blood in my playthrough.
Language: The game features infrequent instances of a**, s***, and d***, mostly from the rebel character, Kyra, and occasionally from Noah himself.
Drug/Alcohol Use: The game has an instance where a character can lick a psychedelic mushroom and experience some hazy vision. There is also a puzzle sequence where psychedelic plants cause the characters to hallucinate. A certain location is referred to as a “hot spot for drug dealers.”
While The Whispered World was an old-school, side-scrolling, point-and-click adventure with hand-painted backgrounds, Silence has received a Telltale, 3-D upgrade while keeping the beautiful, painted backdrops. It isn’t necessary to play the first game (I didn’t), as Silence recounts the main points of the prequel’s story via Noah telling his sister about his adventures. Having the game tell you at the outset that all the events taking place in Silence are visions/dreams is an interesting directional decision, albeit one born out of necessity. This revelation does, however, have the unfortunate effect of making threats to most of the characters seem trivial. That said, knowing that Silence is a dream adds symbolic weight to Noah and Renie’s struggles, emphasizing the fight for their lives.
With its otherwise big plot twist out in the open from the beginning, Silence‘s narrative remains solid. As you solve puzzles with both Noah and Renie, you begin to grow attached, despite yourself, especially to Renie, whose childlike courage and commentary is undeniably endearing. The character I fell in love with the most, however, was Spot–your dog-sized caterpillar companion, who’s almost adorable to a fault and critical to solving a majority of the puzzles. Outside of that trio, however, I didn’t feel much for the rest of the characters I encountered, save for a pair of friendly rocks. While some of the characters are callbacks to the first game, no one really has the time to make much of an impact. The main triumvirate were enough to keep me engaged, but I was still disappointed that no one else got to shine.
Gameplay consists primarily of point-and-click puzzle solving. While it may look similar to a Telltale game, you won’t find the reflex and reaction-based aspects you would in, say, Tales From the Borderlands. The puzzles are middling for the most part–not especially challenging, nor too easy. Most feel necessary to progress, rather than being contrivances meant to hold you back, which is certainly a plus. A lot of the puzzles require you to repeatedly traverse between areas, which can get pretty annoying (the game’s loading times are long enough for me to do some solid scrolling on my phone), but I suppose everything being in one place would have made the game too easy.
Silence really shines when it comes to presentation. The voice acting performances are admittedly pretty uneven, but, as the game progresses, they definitely improve. The time Daedalic invested into improving the visuals was well-spent, as the game looks fantastic. The more conventional foreground graphics and the hand-painted backgrounds mesh together quite well, and the designs of both the environments and the different creatures are inspired. The standout is the music, with somber tones and overtures that single-handedly carry many of the scenes. The soundtrack is integral to making this story strike a chord. (Sorry. Not Sorry.)
Silence is an enjoyable, emotional experience, but it feels cut down. The game is short, coming in at 4-6 hours, depending on how much trouble some of the puzzles give you. You can finish it in one dedicated sitting. While the pieces are in place for a great story, things feel rushed, and the game whiffs on much of its potential. Silence bring interesting ideas, top-notch presentation, and a lot of heart to the table. But priced at $30, I don’t know if that’s enough.
Review copy provided by Daedalic Entertainment
The Bottom Line
Silence offers an interesting, heartfelt experience, albeit a short one. While the presentation values are amazing and the main cast will worm their way into your heart, the limited runtime keeps the story from reaching its potential. The puzzles offered are solid, adventure-game fare, but fail to make Silence into the great game that it could be.