By Ofisil 17.12.2016 2
Daedalic is one of the very few independent developers that has shown some fine skills in the - nowadays - niche world of point-and-click adventures (by the way, play Memoria and Deponia. Right. Now.). Silence, however, is the sequel of The Whispered World, which is not exactly its crowning achievement. It had an annoying protagonist, a subpar plot, and a hit-and-miss puzzle quality… And yet, the, otherwise, beautiful, world of Silentia was very interesting, so it might be worth visiting one more time.
During the aerial bombing of a small town, Noah takes a look outside from inside a bunker, gazes upon the horrors of war, and tries to calm his little sister Reenie… and then all hell breaks loose, when another bombing ensues, and this unfortunate fellow is left alone in the dark, with Reenie nowhere to be found. A few tutorial-like puzzles later, and Noah finds her, and at the same time reaches a land that turns out that it's The Whispered World's Silentia, alternatively, Silence. If a newcomer, however, don't worry, because good ol' Noah spoils everything in the very beginning.
Basically (sorry for spoiling things like the protagonist), this is a dream world residing somewhere between life and death; a world that Noah once "visited" while being terribly sick. Now, if there's one thing that's made perfectly clear from the moment he enters this realm, that's surely that it's stunningly beautiful. Whether that's a moon-lit poisonous swamp, or a grandiose, fantasy town drenched in the light of the morning sun, Silence is simply gorgeous; vibrantly coloured like those illustrations in fantasy books, and, like them, has a great, Alice in Wonderland kind of vibe.
You will feel alone, yet never really threatened, with many locales looking both familiar and otherworldly, giving to it all a nice, dreamy, fairy tale-ish atmosphere. The problem? This looks and plays like a fairytale, meaning that it's aimed at much younger gamers, although the developer treats this like the sequel of The Whispered World, which is a formulaic, standard point-and-click adventure, but far from a stupefyingly easy one. Who's to blame? Well, a couple of different things.
First of all, this uses a hint system that help the one in control figure out what to do and how - a system that genre veterans should turn off completely if wanting to enjoy this ride. Secondly, the puzzles themselves are a piece of cake, partly because, even the most imaginative ones are pretty simple, but, mainly, because… well, most of the time there's not really much to do, since the main character is usually confined in an area that consists of only a couple of screens, and with a tiny amount of items or things that's possible to interact with.
Some additional kid-friendly mechanics are, first, a couple of optional puzzles that feel more like mini-games, to be honest, and, secondly, those instances where the player must click-and-drag towards a direction with the mouse, like when, for example, you want to push something - with most of these parts, once again, requiring no real effort. Note, however, that all this criticism about this being aimed at the youngsters is just a word of caution for older gamers. Why? Because little kids will simply love this.
Silence is simple, but not so much that it feels like a toddler's toy. Therefore, those between the ages of five and eight will find it both enjoyable and challenging, especially since many puzzles revolve around Spot, the cute caterpillar that can change shape in order to help overcoming certain obstacles. Furthermore, there's a nice variety of subtitle languages, which is always a plus. Plot-wise, though, don't expect much. This is a simple, charming adventure and nothing more - although it would be an even better one if the voice acting wasn't so dispassionate.
Note, though, that this is more like a slightly dangerous stroll than a real adventure. As an example, while "bad guys" all around, you'll never feel that much threatened - something that makes Reenie fit like a glove to the story, since she approaches everything with a playful and naïve demeanour, unlike her older, and far more serious brother. Generally, while there's a central goal here (escape Silence), there's no sense of progress or anything. It's just, move from scene to scene, and solve puzzles. Just be ready for lots of 10-second loading breaks between each scene, though. Lots!
The thing is that this could be a really good story, and it's pretty obvious that the developer tried handling it as something more than a simple fantasy quest. To be more specific, while the bulk of the game is just that, the - surprisingly - bittersweet ending leaves a taste of something that's not as straightforward. Like with many good fairy tales, this tries to approach things in a more metaphorical/allegorical fashion… Note the word "tries," however, because the end result simply doesn't go the distance.
Despite a plot that shines through its absence, and that doesn't make any connection with the player, and although the puzzles offered here are insanely easy, the magnificently beautiful fantasy land of Silence is definitely worth traversing… but only if you are very young, or at least a complete and utter beginner in the genre.
Adam Riley said:
Have you played all the Deponia games then, Ofisil?