As the calendar switches from November to December, media outlets around the globe are creating their “Best of” lists for all game genres. The reason we start this process before the year ends is because there is rarely a surprise hit game in the final month of any year. Silence: The Whispered World 2, an adventure game by Daedalic Entertainment, broke this mold and ended up being one of my favorite games all year. The combination of gorgeous art, thoughtful puzzles and well-voiced, loveable characters hooked me from the opening scene. Keep reading to find out why Silence is primed to make a lot of noise!
Our story starts out joyous and ends up grimmer than I could have ever anticipated. Our main characters are Renie and her 16-year-old brother, Noah; and their world is about to quickly be sent into turmoil. As flying warplanes cast shadows on the faces of children playing in the streets, Noah grabs Renie and whisks her off to a bomb shelter. Moments later explosions are heard and despite wanting to help others, you need to stay put. It’s painfully clear that the siblings are living in troubled times. While controlling Noah, you try your best to console Renie with toys and television, but to no avail. It isn’t until you dawn a makeshift jesters cap and speak of the make-believe world of Silence that Renie starts to perk up. This beautiful world is now being ravaged by dark beings, with only a small band of rebels fighting to defend it. Before long the bomb shelter is hit with another blast, everything is dark and Renie is missing. As you crawl out from the rubble in search of Renie it’s apparent that you are now in the world of Silence.
Renie and Noah are shortly reunited and joined by their friend/pet, Spot. Spot is a fluffy caterpillar and luckily for you he is very handy in solving puzzles. As you progress through the story, Spot learns to change is body into different forms to help Renie and Noah. He can stretch into a long band to slide under doors or bounce like a trampoline. He can puff up with helium and float, or fill with water and fire when the situation calls for it. In most situations, Noah and Renie are in separate areas while one of them is accompanied by spot. Every area has puzzles to solve which usually involve spot changing forms to help you out. Other times you may have to find or move items to appropriate areas. Most of the time there are a few logical options, you may think you have the solution only to get stonewalled and go back to the drawing board. A press of the thumbstick shows a hint message in addition to every area you can interact with. There is no penalty for using the hint system, even so I found myself stumped often. When I figured out what form spot needed to take, or which item I had to find before I could progress, it felt really rewarding. When you are not solving puzzles, you experience beautiful cutscenes or make important dialogue choices, ala The Walking Dead. You aren’t going to be using weapons or mashing quicktime event buttons, instead you rely on your brain and eagle eye.
The world of Silence has a strange beauty to it, a mix of the familiar and not-so-familiar. Nearly every area looks like a painting, full of details and nooks to explore. All the characters in the game have full voice acting and for the most part it is very good. Renie provided a few eye-rolling moments during dialogue, but everyone else was superb. Ambient sounds and music, sometimes classical other times whimsical, had me immersed throughout every chapter. While the loading times can be a little longer than average as well as the transition times between scenes, they never pulled me out of the world.
My first full play through of the game lasted 8 hours, but branching dialogue and achievements help extend the replay value tremendously. This is the type of game you are going to want to replay at least once, if not multiple times. Silence allows you to have three save files, meaning you don’t have to restart the entire game to make a different story choice. The game is available now, and while the price is a little high at $29.99, I think that it is very much worth the purchase.
Silence stayed true to its name with a quiet release and little fanfare heading into December. It ended up being one of my most memorable and enjoyable games of the entire year. I loved everything about the art direction, the characters and the world of Silence. I found myself stumped quite often, but more experienced puzzle gamers may find their way with less resistance. Some may find the gameplay to be a little light, which focuses on movement and environmental interactions. For me, this game felt like playing Sam and Max: Hit the Road back in the 90s, one of my all-time favorites. There is so much to see and explore, and everything has a unique look. Adventure game fans owe it to the industry to be loud about Silence.