STAFF REVIEW of Silence: The Whispered World 2 (Xbox One)

Friday, January 13, 2017.
by Chad Goodmurphy

Silence: The Whispered World 2 Box art Prior to taking on the task of reviewing Silence, I knew nothing about the game and had no idea that it was a sequel (mostly because the Xbox version’s cover art doesn’t bear its full title). This was something I quickly learned, however, as it wasn’t long before the characters began to mention their previous journey to the magical world of Silence, which exists in a state between life and death.

As fans of Daedalic Entertainment surely know, Silence was preceded by 2010’s The Whispered World, which hit European shores before it made its way over to North America. A Windows, Mac and OnLive release, that point-and-click adventure game took players on a journey to Silence, where they controlled a clown named Sadwick, who found himself in the middle of an end of the world threat.

At the end of that game it’s revealed that Sadwick is, in fact, a dreamt contraption found in the mind of a comatose young boy named Noah. It’s this now teenaged character that we first control in Silence: The Whispered World II, although he's soon joined by his kid sister Renie, who acts as the sequel’s second of three playable protagonists. The third member of this trio, then, is a caterpillar-like creature named Spot, who can change his shape at will.

Things begin in a quaint, wood-sculpted town, where the threat of death is imminent and approaching. War has hit the region, and bombers have been sent to destroy everything in sight. It’s here where we find Noah and Renie, who make a mad dash for a protective bunker and hunker inside as those they know and love vanish in explosive bursts.

At first, the old bunker seems to hold up quite well against the airborne attacks, but it isn’t long before a couple of well placed hits cause parts of it to cave in, disorienting Noah and seemingly trapping his young sibling under a pile of rubble. However, all is not as it seems, and it isn’t long before Noah finds himself in a cave filled with relics of The Whispered World and hears his sister’s call from its distant exit.

Thus begins the several hour-long campaign that is Silence: The Whispered World II, as players take control of the young man and help him navigate over dangerous crevasses towards the end of the tunnel. There, of course, lays a changed version of Silence, which players must explore as they puzzle solve their way towards a distant throne room.

Like its predecessor, this is a rather traditional point-and-click adventure game, which doesn’t venture far from the genre’s decades old trappings. It is however, a beautiful one, which will impress both those who play it and those who decide to sit down and watch someone play.

Truth be told, the best thing about Silence: The Whispered World II is its visuals. They’re comprised of a beautiful layered design, which features characters and locales that look as if they were painted in. It’s an impressive sight to behold, and something that will help this game remain memorable for years to come.

Things play out on a mostly two-dimensional landscape, where both Noah and Renie must enlist the help of secondary characters. Their end goal is to return home, although they’ll have to jump through hoops in order to (hopefully) do so. This story is told over the course of three chapters, which will take adventure fans several hours to complete. Online estimates tout it as being a five-hour experience, although due to my limited experience with the genre (and mediocre puzzle solving skills), it took me longer.

Although none of the puzzles are cheap or offensively challenging, they’re not a cakewalk either. Some are obtuse, and many will force you to put on your thinking cap, but they’re never difficult to the point of controller slamming frustration. Not that I’d ever do that type of thing anyways, given that controllers are $80 or more now.

Clues are available to those who wish for them, but they’re not the most helpful things in the world. Most of the time you’ll get just a slight hint and that will be all. Hell, sometimes it will only be your objective, which isn’t of much help at all. This 'problem' is furthered by the fact that Silence's audio has an annoying habit of drowning its dialogue out with music or environmental sound effects.

From start to finish, Silence: The Whispered World II is an inoffensive, solid, beautiful, charming, and rather polished point-and-click affair. It can be very slow at times, though, and can also border on obtuse, making it something to avoid if you prefer a faster pace.

In fact, the one thing that bugged me most about this game was its pace. Although it was a treat for the eyes and had a halfway interesting storyline (albeit one that could’ve used more depth and a greater sense of urgency), it plodded along far too much. Then again, I’ve never been the biggest fan of puzzle games, though recent adventure games like Telltale’s series and The Little Acre have both impressed and entertained me.

Playing on console may also have affected my opinion more than playing the PC version would have. I say this because, after looking at videos of the game being played on PC, it’s become apparent to me that the console interface is more cumbersome than its mouse-based equivalent. Instead of simply being able to move your mouse and click on something, you must actually walk towards it and be standing near it in order to input a command. The highlighting feature can also be finicky and untoward, making it tough to highlight the exact environmental item you’re hoping to make use of.

With all that having been said, those who are looking for a charming, puzzle-based narrative could definitely do a lot worse than Silence. Well-worth playing for its visuals alone, it’s something that will likely satiate fans of the classic genre. That said, it’s unfortunately overpriced, bearing a $29.99 US asking price that is arguably ten or fifteen dollars too high.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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