Monday, April 15

Review: Silence [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The point-and-click adventure has been well-represented on Switch with game styles including humorous and outright weird, but not as often delving into the dramatic. From its opening sequence Silence sets itself apart in that regard, with its two main characters narrowly avoiding death from an air raid. Trying to raise his little sister Renie’s spirits, Noah begins to tell her about the fantastic world of Silence, a place it has been unclear whether he’d conjured or actually gone to while stuck in a coma (the subject of a previous game called The Whispered World). After an explosion, and finding his sister missing, Noah once again finds himself back in this fantasy world that has changed a bit, and sets out to save her.


Moving between Noah and his sister Renie each will have their own challenges to face, usually in the form of puzzles, but also dealing with various threats. They’ll each meet members of the world’s Resistance movement, determined to stop the “False Queen” from taking everything over with the help of her frightening Seekers. While when playing with Renie she’s pretty much on her own, making the puzzles a bit more straightforward, when playing as Noah you’ll be accompanied by his caterpillar friend Spot, who’s able to flatten or inflate himself to help find solutions to the problems you’ll face. For the most part the puzzles tend to be concerned with practical problems geared towards survival or tying into the narrative rather than falling into be as random as you’ll sometimes see within the genre.


Probably the biggest difference from the traditional norm would be the streamlined handling of items in the game. Rather than slowly accumulating an odd assortment of items that you’ll then need to poke through and attempt to use in order to find solutions to the problems you’ll face items are used quickly and contextual prompts for their use are pretty well assumed. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about the traditional formula. If you enjoy that part of the puzzle and challenging, figuring out in what unusual way you could use some random widget to solve a problem, this may feel too streamlined. If, however, you’re more interested in enjoying the story and not getting hamstrung by figuring out what the developers were thinking when they made some mental leap of faith this could definitely be a plus.


On a variety of levels Silence manages to stand out from the majority of its classic adventure brethren on the Switch. While it’s not terribly long, somewhere in the handful of hours range depending on how quickly you figure everything out, its darker and more serious tone (though still having moments of levity) and approach to puzzles are both refreshingly different. That said, depending on what it is you’re looking for in your adventure both of those qualities could also be seen as negatives so your enjoyment will likely vary based on tastes. It’s very well worth giving a shot though if you’re looking for a solid fantasy story with some gorgeous visuals, high-quality voice acting, and polished production values.

Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Looks great and is well voice acted
  • Strikes a more serious tone that’s a nice departure from the genre norm
  • Contextual use of items streamlines and generally addresses the usually obtuse nature of the genre’s puzzles

Cons:
  • Depending on your tastes the deviations from the genre norm may be seen as negatives
  • For the most part the game’s puzzles don’t tend to be very challenging, especially given the context clues you tend to be given
  • The load times in some spots can drag and break things up a bit