When I first learned I was going to review Silence for the Switch, I admit that I got excited because I do love the point and click adventure games like Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle (and dozens of others). After the introductory scene, I was hooked. It takes a lot for me to get emotionally attached in a game. Throw in a young man caring for his sister, the tragic opening scene, and I was all-in. That doesn’t mean I’m forgiving of the game’s faults by any stretch of the imagination, but luckily there aren’t that many.
The original game was released on the PC in November of 2016 and can be purchased through Steam. It is a sequel to The Whispered World, released on PC in the U.S. on April 26th, 2010. There is some history available should you choose to investigate it. The question does arise as to whether you need to play the first game released 10 years ago to play Silence. The answer to that is ‘no’, as the game sets up the story for you just fine and in a way that fits the new game very well.
When we talk about the ‘point and click’ genre of gaming, there are some things that are extremely important to me and things that, while important to others, aren’t so critical. First and foremost, the characters must be memorable and relatable in some way. I think back to King’s Quest by Sierra and a multitude of other adventure games from years gone by and the good ones feature a memorable cast of characters. The main character should have a personality. Whether or not you like that personality is secondary to the fact that it has one. How you personally feel about the things the character says, how they say it, and how they respond to others is all part of the story. The main character should be relatable to us as people. If they aren’t, it’s a waste of time because whether or not you’re going to stick with the game is determined by how much you care about the controllable characters. This isn’t like Destiny 2 where your protagonist should have someone else talk for him. This type of game is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book I used to read when I was a kid where the story is the most important factor. Silence does have a compelling narrative that kept me glued to my screen, but more on that later.
Second, the voice acting needs to be done well. This, of course, is depending on whether the game has voice acting. I am still quoting Return to Zork from the 1990s because it was that memorable. I won’t go into it here, but I can quote the toast you had to make with the old guy. Memorable lines, moments, and interactions are also necessary to keep me interested. Renie’s voice is cute. I love how she says things. I love the way she reasons out the goings on around her. There are times where I want to get her attention and say “No! That’s not how it works!” only to learn that she was right! I’m a moron, and I should never presume to understand a crazy, messed up world like Silence. Her brother got on my nerves much more than she did. There were far more times where I made choices that got him killed on purpose before I made the other choice. Why? Because I hate whiny jerks that think they know everything.
Third, the areas we explore need to be clearly marked and wait for input from me. I have a hard time with a game like this that allows you to walk between rooms just by moving your control stick in that direction. It’s not as much of a problem on the PC because you typically click the door or entrance you want to go to. It’s also not a problem if there isn’t some crazy annoying load time when you walk between rooms. This is a problem with Silence on the Switch because I had to wait for these load screens on many an occasion because I accidentally walked too far.
Allow me to illustrate this so that you better understand what I mean. Silence gives you the ability to click your left directional stick so that you can see all the points of interest (POI) on the screen. You can then move your right stick to select a POI, release the left stick, and hit the A button to interact with it. I started the game using the Switch and attached Joy Cons. I have complained about the ‘throw’ of the analog sticks before. For some things, they are just too short which makes that ridiculously touchy. While trying to click the left stick I needed to really feather it so that the character didn’t start walking around, then while trying to use the right stick and click that A button, I wind up walking off the screen and into another room. I wait for the room to load. I then walk back to the previous room. Wait for the room to load. Try the whole thing again. It wasn’t as bad when I docked the system and played using the Pro Controller. It was still an issue for me though. This made my experience far more frustrating than it needed to be.
Music is also extremely important to me while I’m playing a game like this. It should be pleasant to listen to. Changing the sounds to each area is always a nice perk. I also love it when they work music into the actual puzzles that you are tasked with solving. Silence, ironically, is very good about not giving you complete silence while you play. The music is very good and sticks with you about as well as you can expect. There is a puzzle where each thing you do adds an instrument that plays a tune. You also need to “tune” the instrument so that it sounds better. Such a cool idea; while I seem to remember that being done before, the way they used it in this title made me smile.
Finally, the puzzles themselves matter as to how difficult they are. Here’s the thing about this subject. I have had the simplest puzzles to someone like Craig be incredibly difficult for me. Sometimes you just get stuck because the items you have don’t fit together in a way that your brain realizes they could. Some could say that the puzzles are easy in Silence, and for the most part I think I would be agreeable to that. But I did get stuck on a puzzle early on because I wasn’t thinking about the stupid bug thing named Spike all the time. I would forget that the little green insect-a-dog could flatten or puff up. Honestly, it’s a reach for me. There were also times where you had to flatten out your little Spike and have him make a bridge over lava. Yeah. Lava. The stuff that burns you when you get within 20 feet of it. Apparently in Silence, lava isn’t lava. It’s a tomato-based soup with a boiling point of ‘not going to melt your face’. I got stuck on that for a bit because of the idiocy of the idea. Once I decided to just not think and try every combination on every POI, the game got boring and I lost interest in puzzle solving.
The reason I placed the puzzles last on my list of importance is because the level of difficulty for you is completely subjective to how often you play games like this. If you are new to the genre, then many of the puzzles are going to challenge you simply because you don’t have the experience with item manipulation and such. The puzzles could be quite challenging for you if you get in the mindset that looking at something or talking to someone once is plenty and should be no reason to continue. Silence is very adamant that you exhaust the discussion with each NPC. That could also be a negative for you because you may not want to. The conversation can get quite drawn out.
Add all of these perks and annoyances up and my overall impression of Silence is a positive one. I enjoyed the story as it was presented and felt that the puzzles were well done in some cases and annoyingly irritating in others (lava is hot). I fell in love with the characters early on and that may have some bearing on my score, but it’s part of the game, isn’t it? Can the developers and storytellers captivate you in a way that makes you want to play through their game? In the case of Silence, they were able to do that with me and I appreciate that they made this game and I was fortunate enough to play it.
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 6/106/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Silence is an adventure game in the point and click genre. The story is interesting and keeps you entertained even though some of the gameplay bits are annoying and don’t work very well. The voice acting and scenery is done very well and helps keep you engrossed. Definitely a good pick if you love this type of game.