There’s an old adage in business that an average but well-executed business plan is far superior to an excellent plan that’s not well implemented, and the same thing holds true for computer games. Case in point we have Silverfall, an action-RPG with some cool ideas that are absolutely shackled by poor execution and questionable design decisions, and a game that will have you longing to play a mediocre Diablo clone instead.
Silverfall opens with the fall of the city of the same name. As Silverfall succumbs to an invading force you’re thrown into the fire as a means to learn the game by taking control of Archmage the imaginatively named archmage. From there the action switches to a refuge camp that is now home to the remaining shambles of Silverfall’s citizenry where you begin the game in earnest as your level one character. Your goal is to find the truth behind the invasion of Silverfall and make things right again.
Silverfall’s world is one in which magic and technology uncomfortably coexist in a Greenpeace versus steampunk kind of way. In Silverfall it’s not whether you choose to align yourself with good or evil, but rather whether you choose nature or technology. Silverfall exploits this paradigm fairly well in the design of some of its environments and monsters (a clockwork dragon is pretty cool, after all), but it falls short when it comes to affecting your experience with the game. The spells and capabilities between the two schools have almost a one to one correspondence when it would have made things a lot more interesting if your choice had a more profound impact on your character’s strengths and weaknesses in the game.
There are no character classes in Silverfall. Instead the game uses a Diablo style skill tree that lets you customize your character’s talents to your liking. The degree of customization available is good, but it’s hampered by balance issues. Silverfall takes the RPG convention and turns it on its ear by making melee fighters the weakest class in the game. The game loves throwing multitudes of enemies at you that attack using mob tactics, and it is often difficult to click fast enough to make your way through them all before you die. Magic has a decided advantage in the game in that you get access to more crowd control and AOE spells that keep your attackers at bay.
Silverfall’s mix of magic and technology is not the only thing that makes it look different from other action-RPGs, the graphics themselves are physically different. The game has some really nice cel-shaded graphics that give the game a unique animated look and feel. The environments look nice, but the denizens of the world look even better and many of them are imaginatively designed. This all serves to make it an even greater shame that Silverfall’s world is so frustrating to navigate.