01/05/2018

☆ Review: The Thin Silence "An introspective, narrative-driven puzzler" ☆

Share This Post On Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share This Post On
Game Title: The Thin Silence

Developer: TwoPM Studios

Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)

Rating: Ice Cool

The Thin Silence puts the player in control of Ezra Westmark, a soldier who wakes up in an underground cave system, refusing to face reality and haunted by his choices, he begins the journey upwards. 

It’s a very deliberately-paced game that slowly unfolds the story to the player very carefully as they make progress.
 When I first saw the Trailer for The Thin Silence, I was prepared for an emotionally heavy-duty game. The developer narrates over the game play footage talking about his personal struggles with mental illness and it becomes clear that it’s the undercurrent of the game, the title itself refers to an emotional state and the game appears loaded with subtext in relation to mental health and whilst this is the focal point, I was pleased to find upon playing the game that the gameplay was also quite involved and didn’t feel secondary.

As you travel through the game with Ezra, you’ll come across various obstacles that impede his progress, these can take the form of boulders, chasms, generators and various other situations that need to be resolved. The inventory mechanic is quite an interesting one in that you can combine items to make various others. For example, at the start of the game you find a boot which you can combine with fish hooks to make climbing boots, as the game progresses you will have quite the collection of items and crafted, makeshift tools to clear your path ranging from a simple hook used  to climb boulders to zip-lines, levers and the like.

The graphical style works for the game, keeping everything clear and simplistic with a pixelated charm, the initial location of the game for some reason reminded me of Lemmings, even though the games aren’t in the same genre, I couldn’t help but be reminded of it. The characters are all portrayed facelessly with their individual personalities unveiled through gestures and text-based dialogue.
Accompanying the graphics is the games audio. As the title would suggest, The Thin Silence is quite a minimalist game in terms of sound with ambient, sparse (and looped) soundscapes and gentle tunes enhancing the thoughtful mood. The game is split into several chapters and the game is around five hours long in total. Although it’s not swiftly paced, the tone and speed and which you move through Ezra’s world feels fitting, although it may not be for everyone’s tastes. Puzzles are a single-screen affair and if you mess one up, you can hold down a button for a few seconds to retry the screen (Ezra turns grey and collapses, which is quite harsh).

The shadow of mental wellness and the dangers that can arise from bottling up emotions and refusing to face situations is a key point of the game which it doesn’t shy away from addressing, and there’s a reluctance to Ezra’s movements, the useless jump, the bored kick, the laconic shuffle, even a confused head scratch when you use the incorrect item on something, it all adds up to paint a picture of a man removed from the world around him, reluctant to engage with reality and retreating into himself and his  loneliness as a coping mechanism.


Summary
The Thin Silence is a solid narrative-driven puzzle game that I enjoyed spending time with. I was engaged enough in the story enough that I wanted to know Ezra’s fate and I found the item combination mechanic and puzzles in general were logical and gave a sense of achievement upon completion. 

On top of this, the changing locations kept the visuals and music from becoming stale. I don’t personally suffer from issues stemming from mental health so I wouldn’t feel comfortable commenting on how the game portrays the issue but from comments and articles that I’ve read written by people with first-hand experience who can relate (I understand that the developer is also donating 10 cents of each sale to the charity Checkpoint), it’s clear to see how invested TwoPM are in assisting others and raising awareness where possible. 

Aside from all of these noble plus points, The Thin Silence is also a very well-made game that is worth checking out purely for its quality.

I’d also like to congratulate The Thin Silence on being the winner of my inaugural Games Freezer ‘Most Impressive Jump’ award, quite frankly I think this game is going to be the champion for a while.
 


❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt