The first episode of The Silent Age came out of nowhere. It showed up on the App Store practically unannounced, as an entirely free game.
And it turned out to be an excellent point and click adventure with sharp visual design, an interesting time-hopping puzzle mechanic, and a tantalising story that left us waiting for a sequel.
A year and a bit later and here we are with the second (and final) episode. It's longer, more polished, and wraps up the story nicely. But it's also filled with little disappointments that sour the experience.Groovy
For starters, this chapter squanders the clever time-travel mechanic where your actions in the past have a helpful knock on effect in the future.
In the first game you had to kill a fledging plant in the 70s to stop it growing into a gargantuan obstacle in 2012. But even with its extended runtime, Episode Two only features one puzzle that makes use of your timeline-hopping powers.
For the most part, you simply yo-yo between the years to get through doors that are locked in one era, or find items that are gone in another.
Luckily, that nifty visual trick of swapping the groovy 1970s environment with its decaying 2012 equivalent never gets old, and every time you enter a new screen your first instinct is to pop through a wormhole and see how things change.Not so groovy
Otherwise, the puzzles are well designed and sufficiently satisfying. And protagonist Joe's responses to your proposed solutions always help point you in the right direction with a subtle hint that says "you're on the right track, but…"
The game could be a little easy, though, as there are only a few interactive objects in each room, and almost all of them will be used for a puzzle.
And it'll definitely be accused of artificially stretching out the running time by having you wander back and forth across entire sections of the game to carry out chores.
While the puzzles are interesting and keep you plodding on, Episode Two is also focused on the story of Joe - an average janitor with a killer 'tache, who gets his hands on a portable time machine and ends up entangled in a plan to stop the apocalypse.
There are some clever twists and turns, but like any narrative involving time travel, it quickly devolves into long complicated diatribes about causality, timelines, the butterfly effect, and unintended consequences.Guess you guys aren't ready for that yet
Also, the game has a nasty problem of always telling instead of showing, with massive revelations explained in unvoiced text bubbles which deflate the drama and tension like a farting helium balloon.
In one painful example, Joe walks into a room and is shocked by what he sees. But the surprise is muted because our humble protagonist describes the scene while the grotesque element is still out of view.
Despite this, the story will keep you playing until the end. And little touches of humour help soften some of the grimmer elements of the story.
The Silent Age: Episode Two is a suitable closing chapter with more smart puzzles, interesting locations, and a plot that wraps up everything quite nicely. But its slightly amateur storytelling and squandered concept keep it away from being a true classic.