The Silent Age – Review
Follow Genre: Point 'n click puzzler
Developer: House on Fire
Publisher: Meridan4
Platform: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows ARM, Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple TV
Tested on: PC

The Silent Age – Review

Site Score
9.5
Good: Story, Voice acting, Design
Bad: Nothing worth mentioning
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The Silent Age started its life as a mobile game, developed by the Danish game studio House on Fire. It was received very well and was downloaded over 8 million times. Because of the success, the developer teamed up with publisher Meridan4 and they made a PC and Mac port, available on Steam. There the game has a 93% approval rating, easily beating the rest of Meridan4’s most favorable games like Obulis and AFTERGRINDER. The mobile game was released in two parts, but luckily the desktop version is presented as a whole. The Steam version costs €9/$9.

silent age better header

Story

It’s 1972 and you’re Joe, a janitor at Archon. You arrive at work one day and your boss requests to see you. He explains to you that your colleague Frank has left suddenly, and that you should take over his responsibilities. These include the previously off-limits labs, and you decide to have a look to see what tasks await you there. On entering those labs, you notice a trail of blood spatters, leading to an elderly man in a closed-off room. He explains to you that he’s a professor and that he came from the future, and asks you to warn his current self that he is working on something that will bring the end of time. Before he can explain what exactly, he dies and you’re blamed for his death. Luckily, he was able to give you his time travel device, which you will need to escape the police that arrested you and reach the professor in time…

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The story is explained to you with scenes with still images and when you either talk with the (few) people you meet or with yourself, which is mostly very well done, The conversations are fun and you are not inclined to skip them at all, except maybe for one: when you reach the professor, he’ll explain what’s going on in an overly long monologue… Also, the still images feel too simple, as if they are lacking some kind of animation. You do get the messages they want to get across however, as these are only used to show how Joe lives a part of his life.

The comments your character gives, on the wrong combinations you make, or the items you inspect are humorous, and the story as a whole feels like a solid unit with a proper but a tad unexpected ending.

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Graphics

The game is drawn in a distinct simple style, but there is nothing missing that you could expect in the environments you’ll meet. A really wonderful mechanic is how the environment evolves after time travelling. You’ll end up exactly at the same spot you initiated the time travel in, but you can see how the man-built items have degraded and how nature has taken over, often with surprising results. That being said, the time jump mechanism has a few flaws, in the sense that objects that are present in one timeline sometimes disappear when jumping to the other timeline, consequently passing the now cleared first timeline-barrier and ultimately returning to where you started.

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Another thing that progresses with time is the appearance of Joe himself. As you play you’ll notice that his beard is growing slowly, giving him a more shabby look. A distinct feature of Joe is his 60’s haircut, which is a nice touch, adding to the general atmosphere of the game.

Apart from the world you travel in, the interface is really intuitive. This might originate in the mobile history of the game as the UI is kept simple and clear. It feels like you are in a film, with a pause button bringing you back to the menu, which is an overview of every chapter you’ll need to pass. Menu animations are on point as there is a nice zoom function when you start playing a chapter, continue where you left off or when pausing the game.

Sound

The Silent Age starts up with a sinister humming, setting the tone for the game’s overall soundtrack. The background music, which consists of that continuous humming combined with industrial noises, stays the same through the game, as if it’s trying to warn you for some impending doom…

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A nice touch could have been some sound effects for your footsteps in the empty hallway. Luckily, most other actions have a fitting sound effect, like the cracking of an old door or the beeping of computers. The voice acting is really standing out, the African American secretary has a very appropriate voice. All other characters also have a unique voice, and all dialogue is spoken as well as printed on-screen. Joe gives remarks on various situations and objects, helping you bond with your unfortunate protagonist.

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Gameplay

It’s a point and click puzzle game, with the dimension of time travel added. You’ll mostly be collecting items and jumping between the two timelines to reach otherwise inaccessible regions. While it is nice that you always have to collect real world items to craft a tool or open a locked door, it’s missing some variation. You don’t get many hints either, but because it uses well known items common sense gets you a long way. Moreover, there is not that many items to gather per map so it’s not overly hard to solve every puzzle. You are required however to walk the same path again several times, which is a bit of a pity but luckily you can run by double-clicking.

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You need sunlight for your time travel device to work, or to reveal hidden items. In rooms where there is no sun you’ll need to invent creative solutions to get it illuminated, like using a disco ball to reflect light or plugging in a lava lamp. Other environmental issues are flooding and the growth of plants, blocking paths or hiding items you need. You can’t die and there is no time limit, so it’s a game you can play on any tempo and fully enjoy the nice environments and details they’ve put in.

Conclusion

This game took us 8 hours to complete, and we’ve enjoyed every second of it. The atmosphere is brilliant, thanks to the music, story and voice acting all being on point and perfectly supporting each other. It might be because the main character is a simple guy to which you can easily relate to, but you really want to help him get through the mess he’s forced into. Finishing the game leaves you with a hunger for more, and we are eagerly expecting the next game House on Fire can pull out of their hat.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
The Silent Age - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Sander
Sander


Always having more things to do than time to do them, I like spending several of those precious free hours playing games and rating them.

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