The Thin Silence Review
PCAlso available on PC
Whenever it was your birthday at primary school, you were always the person to bring in sweets or cakes to share with everybody else. And I never entirely understood that as a child. Surely everybody else should bring in cakes for you. And no matter how I phrased it, people thought I simply wasn’t getting the overall point of the day. And to me, Two PM studios struck a similar mark. I felt as though I should have understood the game. The theme and notes that allowed the exposition to show a slowly degrading man should have encouraged me onward.
And it did. To begin with I was genuinely curious. The art pixel style was simplistic enough to make the story even more compelling. The puzzles easy enough to complete, but not a simple step by step. And the combination mechanic, of creating solutions from discarded mining apparatus felt clever. When I created steel capped wire boots, I proceeded to walk up and down rails with renewed enthusiasm.
Perhaps, like when I was younger, the message has gone past me. The walking creates the draining effect, but slows the player's progress so much that it feels as though I was wading through mud. And although that may have been a design feature, ideas should never hamper a player’s enthusiasm. Some parts when I kept falling I just wanted to run back to where I was in the puzzle, but instead I was treated to a slow stumble for hours at a time. Perhaps the idea of slowing down at certain cinematic moments would have created a more streamlined effect. Or having the ability to run when you are redoing again and again to keep the story and game play progressing.
Two PM studios genuinely like making games in their spare time, and created an invocative study into depression, and the effects it has on not only the person themselves, but the people around them as well. The setting of being underground, trying to solve puzzles to reach sunlight was a subtle barrier that many with mental health problems feel on a day by day basis. This was only reinforced by the minimalist music sequences, which ranged from the almost silent backdrop, to the loud sudden notes of a past recollection. Your character does not in any regard want to remember what has happened to them, and the auditory sounds reflect this.
And yet, the main game play motion seemed stop start. It was a difficult idea for me to get past, as the story and symbolism was beautiful in its own minimalist way. And yet I had reached the gamer’s plateau, the gameplay was too distracting for me to properly immerse myself within the story. Perhaps I have missed the slow start point, but in terms of the game theory of flow, a player should never be stilted for a long period of time if it prevents a gradual increase in the development of the plot.
Like the mining shaft you find yourself stranded in, The Thin Silence has core ideas, music and mechanics which are diamonds among the rubble. I look forward to the studio bringing forth these winning aspects in their future games. After all, themes and ideas are difficult to begin with, but with practise anyone can create a more streamlined game.