The Moment of Silence Review
The Moment of Silence is set in New York City 40 years in the future. It is a world in which, um, things are…, er, I don’t know. That’s how I felt even a few hours into the game and how you will feel if you try to describe the world of the future to someone after you start playing the game. The problem is that things 40 years in the future look pretty much like they do today. You start the game in an apartment furnished as you would expect to find these days, a PC with a flatscreen monitor, a flatscreen TV, a PDA/phone unit, etc., etc. Considering that in the past 40 years we’ve gone from rotary phones tethered to a wall outlet and large TVs with small screens to tiny camera cell phones and flatscreen HD TVs, it’s disappointing that there was not more imagination put into the look and technology of a world 40 years in our future. There are also vague references to the fact that the political climate has change significantly, especially in the area of personal freedom, but you are left clueless about this for quite a while. You’re not even quite sure what exactly it is that your character does for a living or how he fits into this future society. You’re a stranger in a strange land even though you’re playing someone fully familiar with the landscape. This state of cluelessness detracts from the game’s immersion factor, especially at the beginning when it is supposed to be drawing you in to its world. The game does provide some background information in the manual, but these types of games are supposed to make you feel as if you’re an integral part of the story, like you’re in an interactive movie. Last time I checked you did not have to read a page of background information before seeing a movie to understand what the heck was going on.
|In 2044 they have such marvels as Windows and chat avatars.|
That all being said, what you do know about the story at the beginning of the game is that your neighbor’s apartment is raided by SWAT-like police and a man is dragged out. Being the nosey neighbor that you are, you pry the man’s wife for information and then offer your help in determining why her husband was absconded and by whom. It’s an interesting start to the story, but as it plays out it tends to rely a bit too heavily on conspiracy theory clichés that have already been explored with deeper insight in other media. Also, the story just doesn’t seem to draw you in from the start. The game fails to make you really care about what has happened to your neighbor and this shortcoming will dampen your enthusiasm for the mystery. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the disconnect between player and game as I discussed above.
The game itself plays out as is standard for the genre. You move your character from one connected screen to the next, and then move the mouse in search of interactive hotspots or items to collect. For those of you without the patience for pixel hunting, the game provides a help system – press the [h] key and a room’s interactive spots and exit points will be marked for you, although it seems that you must hold the key down or press it several times in order to see all of these points. For some reason the game likes to include a lot of cabinets, drawers, and the like for you to open that don’t contain any items and seem to just serve the purpose of padding out the game length.