‘Cinematic’ has been a thoroughly useless term clinging to videogames for the last thirty years. It was a weirdly dismissive descriptor for the medium, suggesting as it did that after the ‘arcade perfect’ landmark was reached, the next step was transcending games itself and aping movies that presumably were better. Cinematic came to mean being chock full of cutscenes. Cinematic came to mean quick time events. Cinematic came to mean production value over intrinsic quality.

Silence does have production value in spades, its 3D models over hand painted backgrounds looking stunning and beyond what you’d expect for the size of its development team or hard drive footprint. Its adventure is indeed cinematic, but not for its look. Rather, this is cinematic in the best possible sense; an adventure game with an endearing cast of characters and an earnest, resonating script that feels like it could equally be at home on a Disney or Ghibli marked cinema screen than as a dinky PSN download.

This is actually a sequel to 2009 PC adventure The Whispered World, and while references to the original are peppered through Silence, for the most part the game exists on its own. The title refers to a fantasy land created by teenage orphan Noah and his sister Renie; the two are surviving in a war torn city and make up stories from their air raid bunker to comfort each other as bombs drop. There are, obviously, power struggles in Silence, and a Narnia like conflict for the sibling characters between real and fantasy life, as the real conflict outside the shelter doors threatens to break through into the Whispered World.

It’s a path that has been travelled in other fiction, but the duality between worlds feels novel in an adventure game. The game plays with multiple threads throughout, as you’ll find yourself switching between Noah and Renie at different points in the story, and even control Spot, a caterpillar like creature born from a sock puppet.

Ah, the hallucinagenic plants. Oddly, Renie isn't kept away from these or some suspicious mushrooms. Poor tyke is seeing imaginary worlds within worlds.

Ah, the hallucinagenic plants. Oddly, Renie isn’t kept away from these or some suspicious mushrooms. Poor tyke is seeing imaginary worlds within worlds.

While point and click gameplay is broadly the same between characters, there’s a few neat touches that distinguish the sibling protagonists. Especially charming are longer form logic puzzles with Renie; as she figures out the order to send supporting characters across a precarious bridge, we’re allowed into her thoughts which overlay childlike doodles of each figure onto the scene.

The supporting cast is excellent in Silence. Embroiled in a rebellion against the land’s cruel false monarch, they follow some well worn wizened old man, gentle giant and assertive female leader archetypes, but feel natural and are excellently voiced. Tension between the rebel leader Kyra and Noah are especially fun to see. In general, the voice acting is well handled, with the exception of Renie; she’s a likable character with endearing dialogue choices (as adults converse, you can tug on sleeves or scream your head off to get noticed) but her delivery lacks authenticity.

In general though, this is a wonderfully wrapped package. It would fall apart as so many adventures do though, if the actual play was lacking. Fortunately Silence strikes an excellent balance between modern simplified adventures like Telltale put out and a more classic approach. Yes there are a few puzzles here that require a good deal of lateral thought. This isn’t a game that pads its length with exhaustive backtracking between sections however. While many, even most puzzle centric examples of the genre will have you find a puzzle on screen 47, go back to find an item you missed on screen 25 and take it with you back to the puzzle, enduring load times in between. Here, every key and solution is within a screen of the problem or door. The focus is on your logical thought process, not memory of what lay on a screen ages ago.

This simplified, but not dumbed down approach carries over to UI. You don’t have an inventory here, nor a verb list. Many old adventures would see the familiar cycle of getting stuck and randomly plugging different inventory items into every situation in the hope of triggering a cutscene. Here everything’s contextual, and as mentioned, you’re never carrying items far anyway. Similarly, with no point examining an item you know you have to interact with, everything’s much more streamlined here.

It’s as much of a delight to play as it is to look at and listen to then. Yet recommendation is hesitant and a score attached to this absent. Playing on PS4, I came across a fatal bug three quarters of the way into the game. Silence flat out refused to load a save, sending me to a black screen. That happens, but that Daedalic didn’t respond to multiple questions is a bit more galling. Hey, maybe that’s a good sign, that my issue can’t be replicated and is so rare a response wasn’t deemed necessary. Maybe not though, eh?

We’ll update this piece if issues are sorted out, and hopefully they will be. I badly want to recommend Silence, but don’t feel I can right now.

PS4 version tested

Review code supplied by Daedalic

About The Author

Gamer, Educator, Writer of Stuff, wrestler of professionals (sometimes)