Moment of Silence
Dreamcatcher sent along a preview of one of their latest adventure games, The Moment of Silence. From what I’ve seen, this title will keep us conspiracy theorists and tinfoil hatters quite happy, being chock-full of government cover-ups, secret ops, and even hints of extraterrestrial alien collaborations.
Players are dropped right into the action with very little background on either Our Hero or his surroundings. After watching a S.W.A.T. team carry off his neighbor, Peter Wright takes on the role of amateur private investigator in the New York City of 2044. Exactly why Peter takes this sudden interest in his new neighbors isn’t made clear in the short time I had with the demo, but I guess it wouldn’t be much of a game if he just ignored everything and went back to bed. The neighbor’s arrest soon takes on a more sinister feel, as an apparently innocent man was hauled off for no good reason. Through the investigation, we begin to see a bit of Peter’s background, and we learn that he’s had a rough go of it in the recent past. We also learn, though the ravings of a madman, that Peter may not be as unconnected as he thought. Curiouser and curiouser.
Those familiar with the point-and-click adventure games will have no problems getting into this title. The controls are quite familiar: Left click to move around or interact with an object, right click to examine something more closely. Hovering the cursor at the bottom of the screen opens up the inventory. Other than a save menu, that’s all there is to the control scheme. It’s all nice and clean, with nothing to get in the way of the puzzles and story.
The puzzles themselves, at least in the early part of the game, are fairly simple. Most of the early ones were related to finding the correct dialogue branch when talking to the various characters, sprinkled with a few inventory-related puzzlers. The tried-and-true adventure game approach of hunting for hotspots, picking up everything that isn’t nailed down, and exhausting every possible line of dialogue seemed to work through the demo. A few times I needed to revisit places and re-hunt for some missed hotspot, which could become annoying if that trend continues. I’m also a little worried that I’m seeing hints of the “unrelated trigger.” I see this in a lot of the newer adventure games, and I just don’t like it. This is the situation where you just can’t seem to advance in the plot, but have no idea why. Then, you pick up the screwdriver, and suddenly the phone rings, starting a conversation that opens up a completely new area to explore. There was no way to know you needed a screwdriver at all, and certainly no apparent reason why acquiring it would cause time to pass. I haven’t seen anything quite so blatant in The Moment of Silence, but I did have to make a phone call to cause Peter to decide it was time to go to bed, moving the clock forward.
The story is good so far, and I really like finding out about the main character as I find out about the rest of the game. The story is parceled out through copious amount of dialogue, which so far has been decent. It’s not great, though, and it suffers from that slightly “off” feeling of being translated from something decidedly not English. Most often this is actually a bit amusing. Hearing the various characters go into socially awkward amounts of exposition in conversations with relative strangers just tickles me, I guess. That aside, I was taken in by the plot, and I’m quite interested both in the current goings-on and in Peter’s recent life.
The game looks good, with some impressive pre-rendered backgrounds. The actual characters aren’t as well done, but they don’t really detract from the game. Everything is a bit busy, which makes for nice appearance but causes some problematic hotspot hunts through many of the screens. For a bustling New York City in the year 2044, there aren’t that many people wandering around, which I found a bit strange. Maybe I’ll learn the reason for that in the full version of the game.
Sound wise, things are decent, but not great. Most noticeable is the voice acting—again, everything comes across as a bit off, with accents fading in and out, strange inflections, and odd dialogue. One voice in particular, the neighbor boy, just didn’t fit. This may improve as the game goes on, as I’ve only met a handful of characters.
Overall, I’m interested in seeing how the rest of the story turns out. It’s quite an easy game to get into, and I found myself hooked from the beginning. If the plot remains strong and the puzzles become a bit more challenging, The Moment of Silence will undoubtedly be quite an entertaining adventure romp.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I'm an old-school gamer, and have been at it ever since the days of the Atari 2600. I took a hiatus from the console world to focus on PC games after that, but I've come back into the fold with the PS2. I'm an RPG and strategy fan, and could probably live my gaming life off a diet of nothing else. I also have soft spot for those off-the-wall, independent-developer games, so I get to see more than my share of innovative (and often strange) titles.
Away from the computer, I'm an avid boardgamer, thoroughly enjoying the sound of dice clattering across a table. I also enjoy birdwatching and just mucking around in the Great Outdoors.