TwoPM Studios / Nkidu Games Inc. (studio)
30 April 2018 (released)
30 April 2018
Pixel art games continue to float the market, with many of them harbouring on emotional journeys of self discovery, pain and sacrifice. The Thin Silence could be the ultimate pixel art game that really ramps up the feels. Let’s see.
Very little information is given at the start, with all we know is that you play as a guy stuck at the bottom of an underground labyrinth. He’s badly hurt and can’t recall how he got there, so it’s up to the player to get him out and find his family on the surface. Soon it becomes apparent that the world above has dramatically changes since his disappearance, but he soon recalls that this might be his fault.
The Thin Silence is a slow burner, with an intense atmosphere that broods across the campaign. You’ll feel with every second, the weight of the world on this character’s shoulders as the game deals with a number of themes including violence, self-harm and redemption. The narrative never shies away from its harrowing subject matter but never gives too much away, avoiding what could be tedious spoon feeding. Everything is structured very well with emotional bursts to help the story remain gripping over its 6-7 hours journey. There’s plenty to discover from small poems engraved in hidden tomb stones to finding and speaking with random individuals who relay more the back story to this tragic tale.
The world building is very compelling with the small details as mentioned above, giving depth and structure to this pixelated game world. Despite its limited visuals, the game remain very attractive and is aided by some neat visual styles, dynamic lighting and being accompanied by a pretty good soundtrack.
The gameplay has some interesting elements at its core, with simple problem solving and exploration being key components to the frame work. There’s usually a large area where players will have to complete several small challenges to solve the main puzzle overall and venture onward.
The one major let down to the exploration is the limited movement and speed of travel from the PC. You move so slowly and it’s a chore to travel back and forth in later stages of the game, which become more complex in design and scale. I wouldn’t mind so much, but some segments of the game are more focused on trial and error tactics for progression and repeating large areas, filled with multiple tasks can become very tedious if your movement drags the traversing down.
It doesn’t help matter than from act 3; the game feels as though it’s crawling slowly towards the finish line. Act 3 setting is within an underground lab that requires you to explore numerous areas, hacking two dozen PCs to find more about the backstory and locating id badges to progress further. It wouldn’t be such a bore if the areas were smaller, or didn’t rely on so much walking. Besides nothing happens and there’s a total lack of conflict or lateral elements to keep you amused. Act 4 isn’t better and it’s a shame as there are some interesting story elements and locations you explore.
Puzzle often become too easy, resorting to craft item, use item, use item repeatedly and push boulders in right order to create a means of escaping area your in. There were only a couple of moments which really tested my lateral thinking, but some of these were actually a result of the game not recognising the actions I just performed. However this happened only a couple of times yet was still annoying considering the slow movement speed.
I feel that The Thin Silence means well but falls short on delivering it’s message and ends up forcing more tactics to emotionally blackmail the player. While I do like games which leave you to fill in the blanks regarding the narrative, the lack of consistent story makes it difficult to understand the pain and suffering of our main lead. There are some nice visuals, a wonderful soundtrack and an interesting message at its heart, but this is let down by slow pacing and the lacklustre lateral elements.
++ Nice visuals and Sound track
+ Meaningful story
-- Slow pacing
- Unimaginative lateral elements
A Steam Copy of The Thin Silence was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review