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The Silent Age Review: The Best Adventure Game No Money Can Buy
In an age where the first person shooter is king, it’s almost unfortunate that the adventure game has fallen from its prominence to being preserved in the hands of independent developers on the more niche platforms of PC and mobile devices.
But while they might not be the giant they once were, there’s still something to be said for the quality these games deliver time and time again, offering players unique experiences and engaging stories that we’ve all come to know and love from the genre over the years.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find in The Silent Age, the newest release from independent developer House on Fire.
In the currently-available Episode One, players take control of Joe, an average guy working as a janitor in a 70’s-era United States. After learning he’s been promoted, Joe heads to the basement of the office building he cleans, only to find a trail of blood running along the concrete floor. Curious, he follows the trail and eventually discovers an old man hiding away in the basement and dying from a gunshot wound.
But before the man dies, he reveals that he’s come from the future in an effort to stop himself in Joe’s time from doing something that would lead to humanity’s demise. Naturally, because Joe’s the one who found him, the dying man passes this task off to our unsuspecting hero and gives him the time travel device that has brought him from the future.
From there, Joe uses the device to travel between the present and the future as he thwarts being detained by the police and tries to piece together what exactly happens to the human race in the not-so-distant future that would leave the world in ruins.
While the game isn’t fully voiced, the dialogue and writing are fairly compelling. Joe himself isn’t necessarily the most engaging character, but the world itself is unique and has a great amount of atmosphere that really makes it something interesting. It was a game that kept me intrigued for all the right reasons; curiosity reigns in The Silent Age, and you’ll find your interest just as piqued as Joe’s when you jump from time period to time period solving puzzles and trying to make sense of everything taking place.
Gameplay in The Silent Age is standard adventure game fare; you’ll direct Joe’s movement by clicking around the environment, explore different rooms and areas, pick up items, and try to solve puzzles and gain access to new parts of the chapter. Those who are new to the genre might find it a bit tedious at times, but veterans will feel right at home with its retro feel.
Puzzles in The Silent Age are challenging, but ultimately intuitive, striking the right balance with puzzle solving that gives players just enough cause to have to think critically, but isn’t so difficult as to warrant throwing your iPad across the room. They’re interesting and structured well around the time travel mechanic that sees you jumping back and forth between periods in order to procure items and gain access to new areas. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as being confounded by a puzzle, only to find the solution was merely a few years away.
The art design in The Silent Age is beautifully simple, and reminded me somewhat of old flash browser-based games I used to play as a kid. It runs the risk of looking generic with its character design, but then becomes something all its own with its bold use of color and airy feel. Art plays a massive role in The Silent Age’s great atmosphere, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it from the start.
The Silent Age: Episode One is a great game. It’s not long – my playthrough only took me about two hours to complete – but it’s a completely unique and worthwhile experience to be had. On top of that, being that this is a project of passion for the developer, the first episode is available free of charge on the App Store. If you’re a fan of old school adventure games and want to try something unique as a palette cleanser, I strongly recommend it. And even if it’s not something you think you’d be interested in, it’s still completely worth checking out. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose.