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Silence should have stayed quiet

Although I’m a fan of the adventure genre, I don’t particularly enjoy entries by Daedalic Entertainment. There’s something about the logic used within them I just can’t seem to wrap my head around and, while the puzzle solutions aren’t too bizarre, they don’t make sense to me. Give me a monkey to open a valve in Monkey Island and I’ll know exactly what to do with it; but give me a mouse to obtain a pair of pantaloons in a Daedalic game and I won’t have a clue.

It’s therefore weird that I added Silence to my Steam wishlist after hearing about it in late 2016. Despite being created by the developer and looking way more ‘cutesy’ than the releases I’d usually go for, there was something about the trailer which attracted me to it. The story about a brother trying to find his sister in the world between life and death intrigued me and the artwork was particularly nice: not as cartoony and with more subtlety than the stuff usually produced.

When the game appeared as part of the recent Humble Daedalic Bundle 2018, I decided to give it a go despite my aversion to the developer. I had a few days off work scheduled so the timing was right; I could pick up Silence at a discounted price, give money to charity at the same time and dedicate a decent amount of time to playing it. It was just a shame that State of Mind wasn’t included in the bundle as it looked great at Rezzed in April and seemed as though it would be more my thing.

The first two hours of the game were pretty good. Instead of being a literal point-and-click, it featured the use of some other mouse movements which added a nice little twist on the standard adventure gameplay. The story wasn’t as cute as I thought it would be and there were elements of darkness and danger hidden behind the pretty environments; exactly the sort of thing that would drag you in and hold your attention for a lazy day of gaming.

But then doubt started to slowly creep in. During a conversation between two characters, details about their history were revealed – but not in a this-is-the-part-where-we-share-more-of-our-backstory kind of way, but with a we’ve-been-here-before-and-are-repeating-it-for-your-benefit vibe. A quick Google search revealed that Silence was actually a follow-up to 2009’s The Whispered World and there are several reasons why this has completely p****d me off.

Firstly, the game’s description on its Steam page makes no mention of the fact that this is a sequel. As I discussed with Bandicoot Warrior at this month’s blog party, I have a weird gaming habit where I can’t play the latest release until I’ve completed the others; for example, I can’t touch Fallout 4 because I haven’t played the previous instalments yet (and I can’t get the original title to work on my PC). I wouldn’t have bought Silence yet if I’d known this was the case.

Secondly, I had to stop a playthrough two-hours in and switch to another title. Fortunately The Whispered World was reduced by 90% in GOG’s #SummerGaming sale so a short download later saw me gaming again – but it’s everything I hate about Daedalic Entertainment adventures. The story is full of characters who aren’t particularly likeable, the protagonist has a voice and attitude so annoying it makes me want to punch him, and the puzzles don’t make sense (who’d use a mouse to reach some pantaloons?).

Thirdly, and worst of all: Silence spoiled the original game for me even more than the main character did. That conversation I wrote about earlier turned out to contain a complete overview of the story – even the plot-twist – and now every moment of foreshadowing in The Whispered World is blatantly obvious. I’m stuck playing a title I’m coming close to hating, with the aid of a walkthrough to get through it as quickly as possible, and without even the payoff of a revelation at the end of it.

I understand that developers want to make their projects as accessible to as wide a group as possible, and that means making them playable by gamers who haven’t already completed the previous games. But surely recaps and backstory-sharing in the latest game can be done with far more subtlety than this approach? And what’s wrong with confirming that your title is a sequel in its Steam page description so potential players are aware of its history?

I know some people would tell me to give up on the original instalment or watch a gameplay video and move straight onto Silence. But as I mentioned above, I can’t bring myself to do it; wanting to see those credits before moving on to the next game in the series is my little quirk. But what I will say is that I dislike Daedalic Entertainment’s games even more now than I did so before – I’m not sure I can forgive them for this oversight and it’s highly unlikely I’ll play another of their titles in the future.

But State of Mind though…

Ok. Ignore that last paragraph.

23 thoughts on “Silence should have stayed quiet Leave a comment

  1. This is less of a gaming issue I feel; more of a writing issue. The same applies in literature throughout the ages:

    Novel starts off well, explaining what’s happening in the story presently. Then suddenly a character says “Like we did back then.” They tell you there’s a previous book. So then you have to stop, grumble, find the book from the past – Only to not really care the whole way through. And why don’t you care? You know who you’re going to encounter again already.

    “Oh no, don’t die!” they say in the original story
    “How can they die? I’ve already read they live in the bloody non-titled sequel!” you say, frustratedly.

    Whilst I’ve not experienced it in a game, I’ve definitely experienced it in novel format, so I 100% get where you’re coming from ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Oh and naturally, this means that you should p r o b a b l y disregard their games in future if this is how they write ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s not good for your health!

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      • If a third instalment now came out, I’d definitely think twice before buying it even though Silence turned out to be a pretty good game in the end. Daedalic just killed any sense of suspense or foreshadowing in The Whispered World for me and it was really painful to get through it!

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          • It was just such a waste of potential! The Whispered World could have had a really emotional ending… if I hadn’t already been aware of what was going to happen. ๐Ÿ˜’

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    • It got to the point where I was hardly finishing anything I played, so this year I’ve tried to be more dedicated to the titles I start. Right now I’ve only got two games on the go – a PC adventure and a PS team-based online game – so I’ve got something to get my teeth into for the evenings where I have more time, versus something quick for when I’ve only got half an hour.

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  2. I’m sort of the same way, although I will often bend my own rules for time purposes and the like. For instance, I wanted to play Dragon Age: Inquisition, which prompted me to start at the beginning of the series. And honestly, while Inquisition was a good game, it had a stronger impact because I had “been through” the history. I’m playing The Witcher 3 now and… I feel like there’s backstory, but it’s standing on it’s own pretty well. Likewise I’ll be playing Fallout 3 later this year, and I had to convince myself that I probably didn’t need to play the first games to get it… *takes deep breath*

    But from a writing standpoint, I think if one is writing a sequel, it needs to be clear that it’s a sequel. If it’s written so anyone can pick it up at any time, it needs to be able to stand on its own, too. Like Harry Potter books, or the Elfstones of Shannara. You don’t need to be versed in the past stories to “get it” but it’s also pretty clear that there are stories that happened before.

    So after that wall of text, I hope you find a little more satisfaction in State of Mind!

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    • I completely understand when it comes to Fallout ha ha ha! I look forward to hearing how you find the third game without the others, and perhaps that will help me to overcome my habit… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Silence turned out to be a pretty good game and I can see how it could stand on its own . I would have just liked some warning that it was a sequel so I was prepared for the spoilers going in. Daedalic wasted the impact of what could have been a really emotional story!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The graphics are definitely very pretty. It’s not the most challenging game and isn’t particularly long (around six hours), but I actually ended up enjoying all after all the trouble with The Whispered World!

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  3. I completely get why you dislike this game. I thought it was okay, but of course I played TW before and knew what I got into. That’s why I reviewed both of them in a package ;). That’s really too bad, I could have saved you from the disappointment, at least partly.
    Daedalic aren’t doing very well at the moment with point-and-clickers, even though they try hard. I actually thought TW was so overrated when it was released, just like all the Deponia games, but thaT’s probably because Daedalic titles are very hyped here in Germany. Art direction always great, but gameplay often meh… although there are some very cool titles :-).

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    • I loved the idea behind The Whispered World (no spoilers ha ha!). It could have had such an emotional climax… but it fell flat. There could have been so much more feeling at the end considering what the outcome of the journey was. ๐Ÿ˜ž

      I ended up completing Silence shortly after this post was published and did enjoy it more. But the previous game spoiled it with that clumsy storytelling so I was never invested as much as I could have been.

      I’d still like to give State of Mind a try though… fingers crossed that one is better!

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      • I thought it was a very tedious journey with puzzles that were so stupid at times, just too many logic conundrums for me. Not sure about the ending, I thought it was good, but it also felt as if it was just for the twist’s sake. I also enjoyed “Silence” more, maybe because of just more accessible gameplay, but what I really disliked about that one was how the emotions were forced on you.

        Hm, yes, State of mind, not sure what to think of it. I know Martin Gantefรถhr who also did lots of other more serious adventure games, but again… that forced seriousness, so let’s see :-). You might give “Moment of Silence” a go, as this was his best work and it also seems very similar in tone and style like “A State of Mind”, as many people consider it a spiritual sequel.

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        • Moment of Silence, huh? It’s not one I’ve heard of before but I’ve just taken a look on Steam and it definitely seems like something I’d play. I’ll give it a go – thanks for the tip. ๐Ÿ™‚

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          • Yes, I’ve written a few House of Tales news articles, and I included this one as well ;-). “Overclocked: A Story of Violence” is also quite interesting. But be prepared to get through some gameplay problems like bad pathfinding ;-). Oh, and if you want to know where it all started, “Mystery of the Druids” is a game I remember fondly, but it’s unintentionally funny now :-).

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            • Oh now there’s one I do know – I tried playing it when it was released, but encountered so many bugs that I eventually gave up and never completed it!

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              • It was a troubled development history, I can tell you ;-). But I kinda liked “Mystery of the Druids”, maybe because it didn’t try so hard to sell the “serious/mature” storytelling the later games did :-). “Moment of Silence” is good, though, although lots of talking and walking… not sure about the English version’s voice acting. The original German one had the guy who did Bruce Willis’ voice… Fun fact ;-).

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  4. Hi, there is one saying: “(Sometimes : D) that the journey is more important than the (final) destination.” I say that because yea it’s sad that you can spoil your total satisfaction of playing the game when you already know the ending, but if a game is made well, than you can still emerge into it’s atmosphere or the characters and their stories. That’s being said in general I suppose that this particular game is not near close enough to complete these requirements so you can at least play it with a walk-through(for the puzzles most of the time). Just there is a lot of games out there who waits for you to be played.

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    • You’re absolutely right! I actually ended up enjoying Silence more than I thought I would, despite the issues written about in this post. I just would have preferred going into it knowing it was a sequel rather than a new IP; the fact that there was no mention of this on the Steam page is frustrating.

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