It’s time to fasten those tinfoil hats and hide your toaster in a Faraday cage. The Moment of Silence
, the latest adventure game from The Adventure Company, dives into the dark near-future world of covert conspiracies, black-ops, and shadow governments. Peter Wright, the hero of the story, finds himself thrown into this mess when he witnesses his new neighbor being arrested by S.W.A.T. The game begins immediately following, throwing players into the fray with little knowledge of the world or of Peter himself.
Thankfully, The Moment of Silence
is quite well written, so we’re soon learning a great deal about both Peter and the shadowy forces at work in the world. Peter quickly befriends his neighbor’s wife and son, and discovers that the “arrest” wasn’t carried out by the local authorities. And we learn that there are deeper connections between the seemingly random events, many of which threaten to entangle Peter. I won’t say much more about the story itself, because the discovery of both Peter’s past and his relationship to the events of the narrative is too enjoyable to spoil.
Most of the story is pushed forward through dialogue with a rather large cast of characters. And with such a deep, convoluted story and large cast comes a copious amount of that dialogue, more than I’m usually comfortable with in a typical adventure game. Most of the dialogue is well written, although not always well translated into English. There are some phrases and words that just seem out of place at times, which can be a jarring. Much of the game is well acted, however, so it’s not too much of a chore to sift through yet another conversation tree. Those wanting to jump straight to the puzzles, however, will be a bit disappointed, as most of the puzzles are tied directly in to the conversations and interactions with the characters.
In fact, I found the puzzles to be rather lacking throughout. Most of the puzzles consisted merely of finding an item somewhere and bringing it to the correct character. There were a few times where I had to combine or implement items in a clever fashion, but these were few and far between. And I never really felt a sense of accomplishment over solving a particular puzzle. The puzzles either tended to be blatantly obvious or incredibly obscure. The obvious ones were too easy, and the obscure ones were solved simply by trying all item combinations and talking to all the characters. There was an obligatory maze puzzle, which never fails to frustrate me, and the final puzzle was hair-pullingly tedious to solve, even when I figured out what was needed. I know that balancing story and puzzles is the most difficult part of crafting an adventure game, but I wish the designers put as much thought into the “game” half of The Moment of Silence
as they did to the story.
The game looks good, and each of the pre-rendered screens is full of detail. As with any adventure game, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Busy backgrounds make for annoying pixel-hunting exercises, and The Moment of Silence
has its share. Aside from that, however, the backgrounds do a great job setting the style of futuristic New York and other locations. The characters themselves are a bit clunky, and I had a few problems with Peter’s character getting caught on scenery, which once led to a necessary reload when he became irrevocably stuck. Camera angles are also a pain here, and finding the exit point to a particular screen is often a chore. The camera angle will often change several times as Peter moves across a single room, causing a bit of disorientation. Since much of the game is spent running back and forth, I quickly grew tired of clicking 4 times though each of 5 different screens simply to move across town. The cutscenes and voice acting are well done, for the most part. Although the dialogue itself was a bit rough in translation, most of the actors did a decent job with it.
Overall, The Moment of Silence
is a good story wrapped in not-so-good gameplay. Nothing here is terrible, though, and I felt compelled to play through just to see where the story was going. The writing does get a bit heavy-handed in its message at times, and the Orwellian warnings are more blatant than I care for, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. While I won’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t an adventure fan, the story alone makes The Moment of Silence
a fairly entertaining excursion into the genre.
A compelling conspiracy-theory story wrapped in a mediocre adventure game. Play this one for the plot.