Children of Silentown Review
In Children of Silentown you play as Lucy, a young girl who lives in a small village surrounded by dense forest. This may sound like an idyllic setting in which to grow up, but this forest is inhabited by unseen monsters. What’s worse is that these monsters occasionally kidnap people from the village and they are never seen again. The adults in the village warn the children that the monsters come after people who are noisy during the day, break the rules, or stay out at night. And, of course, you never, ever go into the forest.
These may sound like the kinds of stories parents tell their children to scare them into behaving, except people really are disappearing, both children and adults. The vanished are remembered by displaying their picture in the town square or outside their home, but no one ever goes into the forest looking for them. They are accepted as lost forever.
The children in Silentown are perceptive enough to know that there’s more to what’s going on than the adults are willing to tell them, and Lucy is determined to find out what that is. She has a special connection to the forest, hearing the strange noises the monsters make in the night and seeing the forest in her dreams. She’s also quite resourceful and clever, and with your help she will finally solve the mystery of Silentown.
Children of Silentown is an adventure game in the classic style. Each scene has different people and objects that you can interact with. Some of these are there just to help build the world of Silentown, but certain conversations will reveal important details and some objects can be collected for use later. The objects in your inventory can be used to interact with other things or people in the environment, to open new areas to you or solve puzzles that will move the story along. Some can even be combined with each other to form new objects. The application of the objects in the game is pretty logical, so you won’t have to sit there trying every combination of objects until you happen upon whatever odd combination randomly works. I found that when I encountered something new in the environment I had a pretty good idea what type of object I needed to interact with it.
The game also has a musical element to it. As you make your way through the game, you’ll learn musical notes. Collect the right notes and you’ll learn a song. The songs are an integral aspect of the gameplay. Lucy can use one song to read the thoughts of others, and another to replay images of past events. The catch is that in order for the song to be successful, you’ll need to solve a puzzle.
You’ll eventually learn three primary songs, and each will have its own style of puzzle. The memory song requires you to run a stitch through a sheet with buttons on it, the goal being to stich the holes of each button and reach the goal in the center without crossing any prior seams. Another song has a light beam puzzle in which you redirect beams around a checkboard so that you light all squares except for a few marked ones. These puzzles are enjoyable, with just the right amount of challenge to engage you without becoming frustrating roadblocks to the game.
The last puzzle type isn’t so. It requires you to place gears between tiles marked with pathways laid out on a grid. A knob turns the first tile and any others attached to it through your network of gears. The goal is to create a continuous pathway from the start to one or more safe exits around the edges, while avoiding opening a path to a dangerous spot on the edge of the board. These puzzles are pretty difficult as there are a lot of moving parts and countless possible interactions. I made my way through all of them through persistence and a little bit of luck, but I have to say that I wasn’t thrilled when I had to solve one of these.
Overall, the pace of the game is good and the story is compelling. I really connected with Lucy and was determined to help her solve the mystery of the forest, although towards the end I had a pretty good idea of where it was going. The rotating tile puzzle was a bit frustrating – it felt like a master level puzzle that should have been a single encounter near the end of the game and not something that had to be returned to throughout it. Also, the last part of the game drags on a bit, featuring a large, multi-location puzzle with a simple mechanic that requires a lot of backtracking and a mid-puzzle requirement that’s not at all obvious and needs to be found through trial-and-error. Also, there are four possible endings to the game, but the ending that you’ll see will be based entirely on which song you choose to sing during the game’s final interaction. Each ending will give you enough to go on so that the story reaches a conclusion and leaves some questions open-ended for you to ponder later – enough is left answered to leave room for a sequel, though. Unfortunately, the only way to see the other endings is to play through the game again. This seems like a big ask just to get a little more insight into the game’s central mystery. Once you’ve solved all the puzzles, do you really want to play them again three more times? There are collectible “stickers” to obtain while playing, so if you missed any at least you can try to find them the next time through, but that’s something that will only appeal to completionists and not your average adventure gamer. I can easily recommend the game to those who enjoy a good story and don’t need everything to be neatly tied up in a bow at the end, and who also have the persistence to push through the game’s tighter spots that may send the easily frustrated in search of something else to play.
Final Rating: 79% - Help Lucy solve the mystery of the forest surrounding Silentown.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.