We take a look at a point-and-click adventure set in a dark and unsettling world.
Daedalic Entertainment has become quite synonymous with point-and-click games. Over the years, the publisher has brought all manner of titles in this sub-genre of games to fans, and this January it will be continuing that trend. As of tomorrow, January 11, Elf Games and Luna2 Studio will be releasing their dark and atmospheric adventure game Children of Silentown, and ahead of that date, I've had the chance to check out the game to see how it stacks up.
But before getting into that, what exactly is this title you ask? Children of Silentown is a grim adventure game that puts players into the shoes of a young girl called Lucy, as she unravels a deeply disturbing mystery that revolves around the disappearing townsfolk of Silentown. Unlike a regular community, this town is surrounded by an unsettling forest that is seemingly home to all manners of nasty beasts and creatures, and it's thought that these very monsters are the culprit of the many disappearances. At least it is until Lucy's mother vanishes, leading the young girl to ask questions that no one wants to answer, and on a dangerous journey to discover the truth at the heart of the striking yet unnerving town.
The core concept of Children of Silentown is to wander around the town asking townsfolk questions, picking up items and then combining them with others to be able to reach new areas, all to discover new clues and leads. It's a point-and-click mystery tale, meaning you won't be doing a whole lot other than attempting to figure out the next minor plot point, which sometimes is clear and right in front of you, and other times is so obscurely designed and hidden behind logic puzzles that you just aimlessly wander around and click on absolutely everything you can until the solution is discovered. It can be both thrilling and frustrating, depending on the situation.
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To aid this and to reduce the level of complication, Children of Silentown gives Lucy both a diary and an inventory bar, which you can use to keep tabs on the current stage of your investigation. The inventory is where you can find acquired items, and where you can combine items to make new tools. It's here that you will likely also find a quest item pertaining to the chapter of the story (i.e. a note scribbled with findings, or a shopping list) that helps keep tabs on what you're supposed to be doing. The diary on the other hand helps keep track of music notes you've discovered, with this being an important gameplay addition as you'll need to learn songs that can be used to further interact with the world. This could be to unlock shattered memories of townsfolk, which you'll need to repair by playing a minigame, or to see what important connection an item has to the world, with this also being unlocked via a different style of minigame.
All these things create a gameplay environment that is packed with mystery and intrigue, and this is improved by the narrative and the dialogue, which is full of charisma and charm. You'll become immersed in the story and will want to speak with every character you meet to discover what they're hiding and if it will help develop your investigation. The problem a lot of the time however is that it can become difficult to know what you need to find and do, because usually one minor interaction is tied to completing several things beforehand, and if you miss something, chances are you'll find yourself aimlessly wandering around manically clicking in a desperate attempt to find literally anything meaningful.
To me, the pacing is a bit of an issue because of this. You'll get through parts of the game without a hitch and then will just get stuck for varying amounts of time at other occasions. Fortunately, Silentown is easy on the eyes, which makes wandering around the 2D drawn world less of a chore. The developers have done a great job at creating a world that is both unsettling yet charming, and crammed with depth, and this is definitely a plus.
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But, despite the clear positives and places where Children of Silentown excels, I can't ignore the moments that make me want to bang my head against a wall. The narrative and dialogue is well written, the town strikingly drawn, the plot deep and unsettling, there are just too many moments where you feel completely out of options and stumped that it's difficult to look past it. Still, if point-and-click games with disturbing mysteries at their core is your jam, Children of Silentown is worth keeping an eye on, as generally speaking the thrilling story outweighs the uneven pacing.
6 / 10
Narrative and dialogue is great. World is strikingly drawn. Minigames are fun.
Some of the logic puzzles can be frustrating. Struggles with pacing.