Silence Review

By Kelly Packard,
The dictionary definition of the word "silence" is the "absence of any sound or noise." In Daedalic's Silence, it's the name of a fantasy world where everything and everyone are not as they seem. Quite the contrary to the denotative meaning of the word, there is no absence of sound here. It's a place where citizens rally against their Queen, terrifying creatures prowl the lands, and a magical caterpillar guides two kids on an adventure.

The two kids in question are a pair of orphans, Noah and his younger sister Renie. When Renie is upset, Noah has always comforted her with tales of a magical place called Silence. He describes all of the characters for her: Spot, a cuddly caterpillar who can take on many forms; Sadwick, a sad but well-meaning clown, and the all-knowing oracle, Shana. When Noah and Renie find themselves seeking refuge in a bunker during an air strike, Noah returns to these familiar stories. One thing leads to another and the youngsters now find themselves transported from the bunker and into the dreamland of Silence.

Logo

To traverse your way through Silence — which Noah demands that you leave immediately — you'll have to solve various puzzles, complete small mini-games, or carry out certain button actions, not unlike most point and click games. You'll have a small area, perhaps two or three screens between which you can go, where you can interact with different objects until you figure out how to progress the story. The depth of the puzzles is almost nonexistent, a point that players will find polarizing. Some might want more depth to the gameplay; others will be glad to just breeze through and continue to let the story wash over them.

There are four mini-games at certain points in the story. These are a bit more thought-provoking than the screen-to-screen interactions — for example, figuring out how to get everyone across to the other side of bridge. The nice part is that if you're really just here to play the story, you can skip these four puzzles (and get an achievement while you're at it). There are also in-game options regarding hints and notifications for interactable items that you can tweak to your liking, which should make your romp through the world of Silence more or less painstaking.

What have we here?What have we here?

With that said, the simplicity of Silence seems to be intentional and it is a short game, clocking in around five hours. The focus is directed toward Noah and Renie's adventure, the characters whom you meet along the way, and the gorgeous world of Silence. However, this is a bit of a gamble on the developer's part. Silence is the sequel to the 2009 PC title The Whispered World. Daedalic is releasing the sequel seven years later on consoles under the assumption that most people have not played the first and will be immersed in their playthrough of Silence nonetheless. While this is true to a point — I had no trouble following the story line despite not playing the prequel — it all felt a bit rushed and any emotional connection to the characters seemed absent.

In places there are tough choices to be made and these decisions should be weighted and heartfelt, but I didn't feel anything toward them. I had only known these characters for a few hours and had learned little to nothing about them, but then I was expected to care deeply about them out of the blue. It compares to reading a newspaper obituary for someone that you don't know. You recognize that it's heartbreaking but have trouble bringing it down to a personal level. As such, the story completely falls flat because every aspect of the game is catered toward this narrative. A result of the story's failure to be something truly deep and meaningful is that the whole game becomes lackluster, because that's all that the game really is — a story.

Who wouldn't want to give Spot a hug?Who wouldn't want to give Spot a hug?

The voice acting is part of the problem of Silence's failure to immerse. While the dialogue is well-written, some of it sounds awkward or is delivered badly. Renie, who is of particular note, constantly verges on overacting. When Silence is so dependent on its dialogue, the vehicle by which the narrative is expressed, these moments stick out and deplete whatever immersion was there.

On the contrary, Silence is gorgeous, both the game and the place. While the screenshots are stunning, I don't believe that they do it justice. The art style with 2D hand-drawn backgrounds and 3D characters makes the visuals pop. The environments are accompanied with music for each occasion, whether it be soothing, exciting, or thoughtful. While it might not sound important, bad music or ugly visuals can easily hinder a point-and-click style game where all that you're doing is just that... clicking various things on the screen.

Home sweet homeHome sweet home

Most of the achievements are obtained for interacting with specific objects, completing puzzles with certain requirements or playing through the game a particular way (like without using the snoopkey or without dying). Some do seem rather time consuming and finicky, like finding all caterpillar interactions. By my count, there could be dozens or even hundreds of these. You'll also earn a few just for progressing through the story. One user has reported buggy achievements so exercise caution, although none appear to be unobtainable. Another downside that you'll encounter while on the hunt for achievements is that there is no way to skip cutscenes and there is quite a bit of replaying involved, so you'll be spending a lot of unnecessary time sitting through the same cinematics.

Summary

Silence is a gorgeous game to see and hear. While it makes a bold attempt at an emotional and deep storyline, everything falls flat due to a failure to give the player a reason to care about the characters. Since every resource in the game has been devoted to telling this narrative, much of the game falls apart without a great story. Even though the dialogue is well-written, it's often delivered awkwardly. Since the puzzles are only in place to progress through the tale, they are simple, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on the depth of gameplay for which you were hoping. All things considered, it's a decent point-and-click title although the asking price (US$30) seems way off the mark for a game that's only five hours long, which doesn't offer enough time to flesh out the story and characters.
3 / 5
Silence - The Whispered World 2
Positives
  • Gorgeous visuals and music
  • Simple puzzles allow players to sit back and enjoy the story
  • Good set of options to make the game easier or more thought-provoking
Negatives
  • Story falls flat in the end
  • Unconvincing, overacted or awkward dialogue at points
  • Short and feels rushed
Ethics
The reviewer spent seven hours completing both endings of Silence's story and backtracking a few times to pick up miscellaneous achievements. 31 out of the game's 46 achievements were earned along the way. While Daedalic's Silence will be available on both Xbox One and Windows 10 with Play Anywhere compatibility, for this review it was played exclusively on an Xbox One console via a code that was provided courtesy of the publisher.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
In a few descriptors: college student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. I contribute to TrueAchievements as a news writer and reviewer. Usually, you can find me knee-deep in a multiplayer game while ignoring my growing backlog or on one forum or another discussing all things gaming.