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.