Developer: House on Fire
Price: FREE
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I won’t leave anyone hanging in suspense this time: The Silent Age is a smartly designed, impressively produced, downright gorgeous adventure game which calls to mind some of the best in the genre. Even from as far back as the glory days of Lucasarts. And it’s only the first episode.

Joe’s has had a fairly typical if a slightly rough life; he joined the military, came home and got himself a menial job, then found himself scrubbing floors in a swanky office building. However his life takes an unexpected and drastic turn one day, and that’s where the player takes over. It’s difficult to go into much more detail about the story but there’s intrigue, the possible extinction of the human race, and temporal displacement aplenty.

From every angle The Silent Age is a beautiful piece of work. The music is appropriately somber and eerie while the graphics are a splendid combination of noir and art deco. The story is also pretty engrossing; players can glean just enough information from chapter to chapter to piece some together but there are always hints about the much larger picture to tease them. The puzzles and environments are also put together quite well. Each item is only needed for one puzzle and it disappears after use, and each chapter’s puzzles are self-contained so there’s no extensive backtracking or holding on to items for long periods of time. Oh, and many of these puzzles require some problem solving in both the present and “the future.” It’s a smart mix of elements that can keep players guessing for quite a while.

I love quality adventure games, and The Silent Age definitely qualifies as one, but it’s not “perfect.” There’s a slight delay when selecting menu options (along with zero button feedback), and for some reason pausing goes back to the chapter select screen. It saves the game’s current progress, but it’s awkward. There are also a few noticeable quirks such as description text that sometimes goes by too fast and the way Joe only has two or three interaction animations which all involve him leaning forward to push/touch something at various heights. It’s kind of a shame that a game with such a rich story and impressive style doesn’t have more detailed animations. The fact that episode two is essentially being left in the hands of crowd funding also worries me because I legitimately want to know how it all turns out and would hate for a follow up to fall through because House on Fire couldn’t raise enough capital.

The Silent Age is an absolutely fantastic adventure that fans of the genre should not miss. They should also consider donating what they might have been willing to pay for this first episode in order to ensure that we can all enjoy a second. That’s my plan, anyway.


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