Before the title tornado in October with stormy games like Lords of the Fallen, Super Mario Bros. Wonder or Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 descends upon the editorial office, I spend the last silent hours with Silent Hope.–>
The cuddly dungeon crawler promises pleasant distraction, where neither the screen should explode with special effects nor my controller keys with frustration. A promise that is confirmed after about ten hours, even if Silent Hope repeatedly balances on the fine line between relaxation and boredom. Our first impression.
Silent Hope: Don’t be long…
Once upon a time there was a king who, at the sight of the lying and cheating masses, took away his people’s ability to speak and subsequently plunged into a bottomless abyss called the Abyss. His daughter wept bitterly at her loss and sealed herself away in a crystal tear to shut herself off from the harsh outside world. But when one day seven bright lights shoot out of the abyss, the titular Silent Hope awakens in the princess and she recruits the seven companions to find her father again: Curtain up for Silent Hope.
The fairytale-like beginning of the game, which you can listen to in either English or Japanese with German subtitles, is nice, but worn out after a minute and a half, whereby the second style break already takes place here with the picture-book-like backgrounds: The very fancy animated intro sequence, which can be watched at any time in the main menu and is prominently advertised in the trailers, has little in common with the droll chibi optics of the characters, which can be seen 99 percent of the time.
Before I blather on with details about the story or visuals, I’d rather take the game’s title to heart and quietly sneak over to the gameplay. Let’s start with the aforementioned seven heroes, who are not purely narrative tools, but are all at your disposal for trips into the abyss. From the pitchfork-wielding farmer to the nimble archer to the classic knight with sword and shield, each of the characters relies on different weapons and abilities.
In addition to a combination of standard attacks, each character can learn three special attacks, and upgrading to a new class gives them even more options to find a individual play style. With that, it’s now a matter of plunging down into the Abyss, eliminating monsters and finding plenty of raw materials and new weapons on the way towards the ground, which are then processed into stronger equipment on the surface, which in turn allows the next expedition to advance even further. A eternal cycle also.
Made in Abyss
On-screen death means the end of the current outing, of course, but what sounds like classic roguelike structure is extremely softened in favor of a constant sense of progression. Thus, at crystals scattered on almost every level, you can return to the surface at any time to really keep all the items you’ve collected or switch to one of the other six characters, which means a full life bar and replenished healing potions. So, to get as deep as possible, you should level up several heroes, so that powerful options are also waiting for their use on the spare bench.
In addition, there is also a campfire every few levels, which you can return to at any time, so you don’t have to start every expedition on the second floor. Because the abyss of Silent Hope comes up with a number of different areas, which are visually different and still have a lot of levels, a good idea – because who wants to defeat the initial mobs again and again with the level 20 character? In order to stand a chance against later opponents and bosses, however, the continuous development of one’s own arsenal is also part of the game.
So, on the surface, you can make new weapons and amulets from the resources you collect, which you can use to get more experience points, deal higher damage or enjoy other useful bonuses. This creates a motivating loop: you find new items, from which you make stronger swords or pitchforks that make the numbers go up and make it easier to find new items, which you then use in turn … You get the idea.
Predestined for pop and podcast
After about ten hours, I’ve tried out all the characters and explored a total of four areas of the hopefully not endless abyss of Silent Hope, confirming my impression after the trailers: Marvelous’ latest prank has the words “blunt is blunt” written all over it, making it the ideal gap filler between the big blockbusters that either demand more attention for the artfully staged cutscenes or more dexterity for the crunchy boss fights.
The excursions down into the Abyss are perfect for turning off the head and enjoying the defeated monsters as well as the collected loot masses. Sure, it lacks a bit of enemy variety, gameplay depth as well as an overriding motivation aside from the increasing numbers, and Silent Hope shouldn’t want to compete with a Diablo either. But if you find the visuals at least “quite cute” and don’t want to think or be challenged in the after-work hours for a change, you should definitely take a look at the free demo.
My personal tip: Because the music gets pretty monotonous in the long run and the characters’ battle cries quickly become exceedingly annoying, it’s worth turning down the game volume almost completely and turning on your own music or a podcast instead. Whether with or without sound: Silent Hope will be released on October 3 for the PC and the Nintendo Switch and will cost 39.99 euros.