“Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out.” Stephen Hawking
Developer: House on Fire
Released: December 2012
Price: Mobile – Chapter 1 free, rest paid via IAP, PC/Mac – £6.99
The Silent Age was originally released as a mobile game and then revamped for its PC release on Steam in 2015. It is a post-apocalyptic, 2D point-and-click game with themes of time travel, science fiction, and survival. It is set in 1972 and allows you to travel as far into the future as 2012!
The Silent Age is a single-player experience, played in the third person, traversing time and space solving puzzles and trying to save the world! It is a relatively short game, I completed it and its 24 Steam achievements in seven hours but I was being my usual slow self so it can almost certainly be done more quickly without missing things! 20 Mobile achievements were added to the game in a 2016 update that also included improved graphics for iOS and Android devices.
One of my favourite aspects of The Silent Age was its visuals. The game uses a largely muted colour palette with lots of toned down blues and purples but adds splashes of really vibrant bright colours, such as the red of the protagonist, Joe’s jumpsuit. I found this provided a high contrast look that pairs well with the minimalistic lines and abundance of silhouettes and shadows.
With the exception of a couple of slightly clunky-looking animations, the game was very aesthetically pleasing to me and the art style fit well with other aspects of the game; for example, when combined with the music, this also served to give the experience something of a film noir feel. Each of the 10 chapters had different music, as did a few areas within them, such as a nightclub. The audio kept true to the tone of the game but really helped provide a sense of progression and location in a short game with quite small ‘maps’. The ambient noises and sound effects were also used really well to keep you grounded in the environment without being distracting.
The voice acting is well done for the most part and there are some really interesting side characters but I found Joe to lack conviction and emotion at times and this made him come across as a bit simple and even underdeveloped as a protagonist. The dialogue is well written, it flows well and characters have distinct voices. I did find one particular bit of conversation with Dr Lambert in chapter 8 to be very convoluted and unnatural though, it went on far too long and seemed forced, this was especially noticeable as I had enjoyed the dialogue up until that point.
The puzzles were well constructed and logical, but the game is quick to tell you if you have missed something and some of them felt a little too easy. The game features a time travel mechanic that is integral to the story and the gameplay; often it is necessary to change time in order to obtain puzzle items or progress to different areas. This was used well and replaced the tedious walking back and forth that must so often be endured in many point-and-click games! The items are single use which keeps the inventory clean and lowers confusion over which item to utilise.
Things do go a bit wrong in chapter ten though and the entire level is essentially made up of walking from one end of the map to the other and back again, repeatedly. It was almost as if the developers got to that point in the game and thought it wasn’t long enough, the excessive walking (where previously there had been very little) felt like artificial lengthening and was a low point of the game. That being said the story held my interest throughout, with the narrative going full circle into a really satisfying (albeit slightly predictable) ending.
I bought this game on Steam and played on PC, I cannot vouch for the mobile version but I am happy with the experience that I had. I enjoyed it overall and I’d certainly recommend this to fans of the point-and-click genre; it is well made, has a good narrative and the time travel mechanic adds a fresh touch that made for some really fun gameplay.
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