The following is a guest review from DrXan.
Release date: 2015
Version played: PC via Epic Games in 2023
The one and only game published by Danish indie devs House on Fire, The Silent Age is a side-scrolling point and click adventure. You play as Joe, a janitor working for the Archon company in the 1970s. With the sudden and unexplained resignation of your co-worker, Frank, you are told to take over his duties (for the same pay and no change of title, of course). This is just the beginning of a time-spanning, apocalypse facing point and click adventure.
+ the actual story beats of the game are excellent and all happen with the backdrop of increased Cold War paranoia between the USA and the USSR. The time setting of the game is used to explain many of the characters motivations and why they would go to such extremes in their actions.
+ the few conversations you have in the game are all fully voiced and do help lend some life to what can sometimes be some lifeless environments.
+ the core gameplay gimmick of switching between two defined time periods to solve inventory puzzles is great for avoiding the usual ‘how do I get around this’ problem that some point and click games have. There is almost no backtracking in the game, and most areas of 3-4 rooms are themselves self-contained chapters, meaning you will never have to carry around a receipt for a dead pig for the whole game.
– this game is woefully short, coming in at between two and a half to three hours for most people. Whilst I know this is fine for some people I think the asking price of around $15 for a game that is now seven or more years old is a bit steep.
– as is par for the course for many of these point and click inventory puzzle games what you can and can’t use is strictly controlled, and each item can only be used once for its intended purpose before mysteriously breaking. While this makes sense for sticks and keys, the same is hard to swallow for swords and chainsaws.
– while the game builds intrigue up to the penultimate scene the actual ending seems like the devs just couldn’t think of a satisfying way to end it. Whilst it’s not as bad as ‘it was all a dream’ it does feel like they wanted an ending that was neither happy, nor sad, and just ended up with something boring.
> Its worth mentioning I received this game for free via Epic and went in knowing nothing about it other than it being a point and click game. In writing this review I’ve found out that it was originally released on iOS and Android as well as PC and Mac. This made a lot of the simple game mechanics and the ability to one-click-exit the game make much more sense.
> for my own sanity, know that double clicking any action will make Joe sprint to complete it. Not knowing this fact until half way through the story is why my playthrough came in closer to the three hours mark.
Should you play this game: I think a better question would be “Is this game worth the price?” For all that it does well with building an intriguing plot set during the Cold War, and using the time changing mechanic to good effect, the game is just too short to recommend for the $15 price point. If it goes on sale feel free to pick it up but just know you’ll probably only get 3 or so hours of bang for your buck.