Children of Silentown Review – Let’s Play the Silent Game

    Title: Children of Silentown
    Developer: Elf Games, Luna2 Studio
    Release Date: January 11, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
    Genre: Adventure

Point-and-Click Adventure Games have been around since the dawn of Video Game media. While a rarity, the indie scene keeps the genre alive. Children of Silentown, made by Elf Games and Studio Luna II, is a Dark Adventure Game heavily inspired by the works of Tim Burton, and it shows entirely in the presentation and plotline. With a handful of demos released since it began development, it will finally release on January 11, 2023.

Children of Silentown has you playing as Lucy, a young girl living in a mysterious town full of people afraid of the forest nearby, where terrifying roars and howls are heard every night. The adults in town have strictly banned loud noises during the day and going out at night. If these rules are broken, people go missing, and everyone says that the forest’s monsters took them away.

Lucy likes to sing with her mother, which is frowned upon by the village at large, causing stress inside the family as well, as her father is strict about the rules of their home. As the strange happenings in the village begin to get closer to her own home, Lucy starts to ask questions and investigate the seemingly cursed town, but it might just be more than she ever bargained for.

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Children of Silentown has the traditional point-and-click gameplay front and center. You can talk to people and investigate the town while picking up various items to use in multiple ways. You can even combine certain items depending on the situation. While this is essentially the gameplay loop, you also get songs that react to certain things in specific ways, such as getting a person to open up to more questions or seeing the history of an object or location.

To add to this system, you use specific songs required to solve a puzzle, which may also be needed for the song to work. These depend on the music used and will quickly get more complicated and involved as the game progresses. The song puzzles are probably the highlight of the gameplay, especially if, unlike me, you understand how they are supposed to be solved instead of brute forcing the first half of the game. For example, one type of puzzle has you threading a memory back together; another has you turning tiles to make a path to an exit. These, and the other two types of puzzles, are a great way to change the pacing of talking to people and exploring the town.

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Besides the song puzzles, the game has the traditional point-and-click curse of having a few very obtuse puzzles, requiring you to remove an amount of common sense to solve, but compared to games like Grim Fandango, these are few and far between, leaving the song puzzles to do the heavy lifting. The characters you meet in town are varied, and you quickly grow to understand their personalities and how to approach them about questions and puzzles.

For example, the farmer doesn’t like kids but is easy to trick and prank. In turn, some kids in town are trouble-makers and like to prank others, so you know who to watch out for. Singing to everyone gets you more of their motivations and history. While the characters at the beginning seem paper thin, you can understand why some people are the way they are at the end of the game.

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You explore the town for most of the game, with a few new areas opening as you progress. While this means you will see the same screens for a while and the same music, it diversifies by letting you know how the characters act and live daily. It also does a lot to make you feel the tension and prison-like nature of the town because, at its core, this game is a suspenseful thriller/mystery.

The art style, music, and subject matter are all used to a masterful degree. The entire game, almost every word, makes you feel uncomfortable, panicked, and afraid. Even lighter moments only exist to increase the tension and impact of upcoming events. It’s so effective that my concern and panic for Lucy’s cat, Squinty, are some of the most intense feelings I’ve had for an animal in a video game.

Aside from solving the puzzles in each chapter, you can also find stickers, all of which are tied to particular chapters. While these have no practical effect or impact on the game, at least from my knowledge, these do serve as collectibles. They also give a good amount of flavor text, adding to the already-deep personality of the game. The first several stickers aren’t too difficult to find but later become quite sneaky, meaning you must be thorough on every screen if you want them all.

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Children of Silentown is a grand adventure. The world had me in a constant state of suspense, and the characters constantly surprised me. Even with the occasional logic issues found in certain puzzles that lost me, I found fun in the overall design. The characters and locations were charming and memorable, despite the eerie nature of the art style. Children of Silentown is well worth your time if you are a fan of Adventure games.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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