The Silent Age from developer House on Fire has me a bit conflicted for this review. The game’s completed story and gameplay experience was great, and I will remember it fondly. Unfortunately though, the dialog and disconnected puzzles all felt lacking, or weaker than they could be. Let me elaborate:
The Silent Age begins with a series of images that tell the story of protagonist Joe’s life until the events of the game begin. He lived a solitary life, moving between unremarkable jobs. Immediately we’re introduced to the game’s unique art style. It uses broad and contrasting coloring, making every object and person stand out, so it’s easy to find clues and items to pick up. This art style also managed to give me a sense of immersion, in a weird way. Since it is impossible to read Joe’s face/expression, and he didn’t make many movements, it was easier to see him as a tool to solve puzzles with, than as an actual character in the story.
The game uses a time traveling mechanic for most of its gameplay that works pretty well. About twenty minutes into the game, Joe is given a button that will transport him to and from a far future where humanity is gone and presumed dead. Joe uses this device to take advantage of the dilapidated environment of the future to move through rooms. So for example, in the present Joe found a building with two apartments and a ladder to the roof. He climbed to the top of the roof, went to the future, and jumped through the roof into the left apartment. Of course, the door to the right apartment was barricaded, so Joe went back in time and went through the unlocked door. While this is certainly an interesting mechanic to play around with, a lot of these scenes felt insignificant.
I am pretty glad that I kept playing even after being offended by one of the opening scenes. The story of The Silent Age was interesting. The larger plot is an exciting and thought provoking take on time travel, but it’s unfortunate that the minutiae of solving puzzles and just talking to the other characters in general felt so underwhelming.
For this review we completed the PC version using a Steam code provided by the developer for review.