I’ll admit that The Whispered World completely passed me by, back in 2010, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when Silence: The Whispered World 2 was announced at the end of last year. Yet it grabbed my attention, with that initial trailer looking so beautiful and its apparent blend of fantasy and WW2 for the setting. Needless to say, I then took a peek to see what the first game was all about too.
However, I was not expecting the tonal shift to be quite so great. The first game’s protagonist was a clown for one thing. It featured the rather melancholic Sadwick with his sidekick, a caterpillar named Spot, who had to face up to the fact that he was the reason why the fairy tale-like Whispered World was collapsing in on itself.
Silence stars Noah and his little sister Renie, as their world is shattered by a war. Hiding in their bomb shelter, the game starts to tie back to the first one as, in order to keep his little sister entertained, Noah recalls the events and characters from the first game. You see, and this is a huge spoiler if you plan on playing the first game, Noah and Sadwick are one and the same, with the latter a creation of Noah’s mind as he once lay in a coma.
However, as more bombs are dropped outside, one strikes the bunker they are hiding in, cutting out the power in the process. As Noah comes to, Renie is nowhere to be seen, and as he tries to locate her, he finds himself reentering the Whispered World and the land of Silentia. However, this world has been transformed since the first game, from just being a bit depressing to one that is divided by conflict and potentially hostile to Noah and Renie, just as the world from which they came is.
Almost as soon as he arrives in the Whispered World, Noah, with a little help from a Rebel, has to avoid a Seeker, a particularly ominous looking creature with long grey limbs and a white masked face. However, this is still far from being an action game, and so puzzle solving and avoiding the various threats will be key.
In a shift from the more traditional point & click formula that Daedalic have generally stuck to in the past, Silence does away with the inventory system entirely. It’s a move made to try and make the puzzles in the game more intuitive and accessible, while also trying to allow them to avoid building in an overt hints system.
Instead, everything plays out within a given area. During the introductory bunker scene, for example, Noah was picking up stuffed toys, lampshades and socks and combining them on the fly to tell the story of Sadwick to Renie. However, once in the land of Silentia, Noah is soon accompanied once more by Spot the caterpillar, who is actually a multi-purpose puzzle-solving companion, able to flatten itself into a sheet or balloon into a ball and use these actions to do things like get under and shift a rock out of the way.
Even without the inventory, there’s still the potential for some large scale puzzles that go through multiple stages. If you do get stuck, it’s pleasing to still see the ability to hold the space bar and view all of the interactive items in the world, and you’ll naturally be able to pick up hints by listening to character dialogue as you do so. Additionally, you’ll be able to switch between Noah and Renie as playable characters in order to make progress elsewhere.
Throughout all of this, the wonderful graphical style that first attracted my attention in the reveal trailer are actually possible within the game, thanks to some clever graphical techniques within the Unity engine. Using a method they call ‘Camera Projection’, Daedalic take the original 2D artwork of a location and then morph it into a pseudo-3D scene, going beyond parallax techniques to something more akin to a pop-up book that allows the camera to move and shift more dynamically. Blending into this are then the painterly characters, 3D moving elements and lighting effects within a scene, to create some particularly rich vistas to take in.
The release of Silence: The Whispered World 2 is currently set for the start of 2015, and then primarily for PC, but with the cross-platform Unity engine running in the background and the slight shift in the point & click gameplay, the possibility is there for this game to see a console release. If that were to come to pass, this could be an important step for Daedalic, at a time where adventure games are enjoying something of a renaissance.
Even if they don’t release on console though, this is something to look forward to for fans of adventure games. The particularly lovely graphics lay the groundwork for the interesting fantasy setting and the journey that Noah and Renie will go on that will see them coming of age and discovering what exactly the Whispered World is.