To slightly quote Sundar Pichai’s opening line at the Google Stadia event; ‘I don’t play point-and-click games’, but for many, Silence can become the exception and one that players new to the genre will come back to time and time again. It’s a part-spinoff, part-sequel to The Whispered World, a game released in 2010 to much acclaim, and this entry was released back in November 2016 to similar acclaim. Almost three years on, it finds itself on the Switch.
Developed by ‘Daedalic Entertainment’, you control the character Noah, where the player guides him through the land of Silence once again – a place of limbo between life and death – to rescue his younger sister Renie from the land. The game begins with them taking shelter in a bunker during an air raid, where they find a path to the Whispered World, almost similar to the realm of Narnia.
To some players, point-and-click games won't be the type of genre that they usually go for. Similar to those who don't queue to play the latest FIFA or Call of Duty every year. But Silence gives you a gentle introduction to the genre, and by its close, it gives you the curiosity to play games that defined the genre, such as Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, and many more.
But most of all, Silence will remind you Telltale’s ‘Batman’ series of games from this genre, and using the Joy-Con gives you a means of interacting with a world full of character and curiosity, as is standard with these games. As you control Noah, you can’t help but stop and gawp at the general loveliness of everything around you, especially when you’re playing it in docked mode. Everything has a pleasing sheen to it, as though you're walking through a painting. Every cut-scene demands your attention, and you can’t help but just sit through and see where the story takes you. The voice acting throughout is also fantastic and serves to draw you further into the story. It’s also available in Chinese, Polish and German, if you so wish.
As this is a sequel in all but name, there are references to the previous game which may be lost on newcomers, but returnees will lap these up and be glad to discover new details in this entry. The puzzles can be challenging, and when needed, there are hints available. None of the conundrums are too tiring to solve and most were fun to complete – especially when the solution 'clicks' in your mind – so you won’t need a notebook by your side to figure these out. Some can even remind the player of puzzles from Onimusha and Resident Evil 3, which is no bad thing in our eyes. These only make you want to go through the puzzles with no hints whatsoever and to have the fun of discovering them on your own with no help.
But there are faults to the game, starting with the price. At £30 in the UK, it’s a big ask when you can purchase the game on Steam for half the price, or Silence and its forerunner The Whispered World in a bundle for £27. It’s another victim of the infamous ‘Switch Tax’, where games are seemingly priced high to take advantage of that nostalgia, similar to how the upcoming Resident Evil re-releases are going to be on the eShop for £30 a pop. In Silence's defence, it is also available as a physical release that comes on a game card, but if you're going digital route then it still stings.
While we're picking fault, it's worth noting that throughout the game you will come across moments where you need to select the right conversation paths, and while this makes it varied and unpredictable every time you play, it eventually does converge into the right outcome. You do feel at times that there wasn’t really a consequence to your choices, and this gives the impression of a game that's linear in terms of story, despite suggesting otherwise. It leaves you feeling slightly disappointed, and puzzled as to why the chats branched in the first place.
As this is a point-and-click game, it's disappointing that Daedalic didn’t take advantage of the Switch's touch screen to help with the immersion, instead of just limiting it to your controller of choice. It would almost emulate having a mouse once again, clicking through all the objects to see how Renie reacts to them. At least in terms of performance, there's little to grumble about; in docked and handheld mode the game plays great. Everything is at a smooth 30fps and while there’s some slight blurriness in certain scenes in handheld mode, it didn’t take away from the experience.
Silence is a game that deserves to be played in docked mode on the Switch. It gives you a story you’ll be immersed in, while the vibrant graphics will keep you playing for just that little bit longer. You may feel like you’re wasting time when it comes to the multiple chat options, as they always conclude at the right outcome, but your curiosity will want you to keep going to find out more about the world of Silence, and to bring Noah and Renie home, whatever it takes. The lack of touch screen control is a disappointment though, and we can't help but feel this should have been priced a little cheaper, considering its age and how much it costs elsewhere.