Review – Silent Hope
Since it was released, Diablo 3 has reigned as the top of my most-played titles on Nintendo Switch. I’m a loot fiend, hopelessly obsessed with finding bits and bobs. Being able to lounge in bed with a cup of coffee to one side and the fan blowing on my person on the other is just a heavenly, no, orgasmic experience. Since that fateful day in 2018, a slew of impersonators have come out, attempting so badly to emulate that formula. I gobbled each one up, too. Some manage to nail it, but theres a handful that would’ve been better off sitting it out to bake further in the oven. Almost five years have since elapsed, and no one has dethroned the king, but that could change with a new challenger.
Silent Hope is the love child of Diablo 3 and Rune Factory after a meeting at a bar. One thing leads to another, and bam, a pregnancy crops up. If anyone doubts who the daddy is, well, one look makes it abundantly clear. The question is, who has the dominant gene? Well, let’s answer that, and kids, remember to wear protection.
The narrative is minimal, with the bulk of focus being on the gameplay. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s not a sliver, though. Now, when I say sliver, I mean minuscule, to the point of being an afterthought. I suppose that should be expected, as the seven protagonists are silent. You heard correctly; that age-old JRPG trope is alive and thriving, but, to Silent Hope’s credit, I love how it infuses it into the world’s lore. I appreciate the inclusion because it’s a huge pet peeve of mine when characters gesture as if they’re talking to another, but we only see one-side of that interaction. That’s not a factor here, and I enjoy how it even pokes fun and references at that very notion. Honestly, centering the adventure around finding voices is applaudable.
What I believe will be divisive is when I’m in the hub base and making preparations. The issue I foresee potentially creeping in has to do with The Princess, who helps our heroes. Basically, she’s a Chatty Cathy, and I was slapped with her quips until I decided to journey into the Abyss – the main and only dungeon. I didn’t hate anything she said, but because of the limited script, it will eventually repeat. However, for what it’s worth, I did grin a couple of times and even softly chortled once or twice. She’s the vessel that will fill in the plot, doing so as I’m traversing the depths, revealing the events that started the current predicament, while also explaining away the muteness. I do, however, still have the tiniest of gripes with this facet.
As I explore, I may encounter a circular light, which triggers the exposition, and that’s dandy, but not when it’s tied to me physically standing within. I can’t venture out to continue my kill streak. In an Action RPG like Silent Hope, that’s pretty detrimental. It ceases any momentum I’ve built in combat, breaking the fluidity of movement. Thankfully, I reckon it’s easily addressed with a patch, and while it might not be a deal breaker, it’s a quality-of-life change that would contribute to a better romp. There’s no reason I can’t be murdering lizard men and puffballs as The Princess fills me in on The King. Sure, it’s a wee nitpick, and honestly, those spotlights are sparse, but easing out the session can only be beneficial.
Before I keep going, remember that Silent Hope is a smaller title. The systems aren’t extensive, going the route of being easily understandable instead. That’s a fact that’s obvious in the structure of the abilities tree. See, each warrior is tied to a class, whether a wanderer or a caster. On top of that, they also come with a pair of possible upgrades that unlock as certain criteria are met. Again, these aren’t extensive, with the first step for everyone being to reach a specified level, while the second caveat is to defeat an enemy – it’s important to note that it’s identical throughout everyone. I would have liked variation as it would have been fun to work towards getting the final forms. It’s a missed opportunity to help elevate the session.
When it comes to the special techniques, the characters can select from nine total, with three dedicated as I ascend ranks. Sure, it might be a low number, but I adore this implementation. Not to mention it doesn’t overwhelm me like several have before. Hell, I can readily mix and match abilities that perfectly complement one another for seamless usage. I don’t feel stressed trying to decide where to invest my skill points, which, by the way, I can reset at any time if I feel so inclined. Yes, there’s a cooldown, but the duration is reasonable. If I did find it egregious, by simply spending said points, I can decrease my wait. Even then, I never had an example of needing to execute a maneuver, only to be yelled at because it wasn’t prepared. The frustration it can cause is minor, but it isn’t elsewhere.
To no one’s surprise, dodging is vital to survival, especially when a plethora of monsters flank me. It’s a common occurrence, too, so as I’m positive y’all can imagine, I used it frequently. If there are worries, don’t fret as the motion is responsive, but the collision detection is too fantastic. If I’m not making sense, then picture being surrounded. You attempt to evade, but due to the volume of foes circling you, you’re incapable. You’re stuck and praying an opening big enough to squeeze through appears. Usually, players are given a bit of leeway with this mechanic, allowing them to do it with the slightest of holes. Silent Hope is a strict parent, though, refusing lenience. I perished on countless occasions due to this faux pas. Luckily, this stumble can be corrected with a quick patch.
My purpose for advocating for the above is because there were instances I’d try to shuffle off, but the incoming attack had a long range. Despite moving backward, it felt unavoidable and I’d suffer damage – the same can be said for left or right. If I could slide at the enemy, it would help to minimize any impact.
Moreover, it wasn’t always apparent when I had to move. The animations are snappy, and my reactions were slow by comparison, meaning I succumbed to a fair share of preventable deaths. Having a clear tell, such as a color flash, in conjunction with perhaps a merciful dodge aspect, would aid in boosting accessibility for us old farts. At risk of repeating myself, yeah, a patch could fix this hiccup.
Okay, when it concerns the Rune Factory DNA, it’s actually not a potent strain. Your farming isn’t farming in the sense of actively plowing soil. It’s automated, and all I do is decide on what to plant, while one of the seven heroes who aren’t who I control does the labor. It’s a disappointment as a fanboy of Story of Seasons and whatnot because I find those mundane chores calming. Apart from that, I can cook, which functions the same way as carpentry, alchemy, and other jobs. What I will note is how, while I’m scavenging through The Abyss, I’ll also be simultaneously doing the tasks I assigned. Silent Hope respects your time, and regardless of my preferences, that’s a plus.
When discussing the Diablo 3 influence, things begin heating up. Never in a million years did I expect there to be a large, and I do mean large, emphasis on looting. It has a crucial role in Silent Hope, and it taps into the part of my brain that goes bonkers at the mere thought of treasure. The dopamine rushes, and I turn into a crazed addict. What I really love is how whenever a Legendary drops, chances are, it’s going to be the best option. Firstly, it has three spaces for passives. Secondly, there’s even a slot to embed a jewel for an additional perk, making four. I had more fun than I care to admit, and when I spotted that orange beam, My eyes lit up. If after getting one, does that mean lower-tier items become useless, or do they not?
The answer is a flat no; they don’t. By visiting a forge, I can reinforce whatever equipment I find. Naturally, a form of currency is required, and to obtain it, I have to dismantle the junk in my inventory. My only qualm is the maximum level for an upgrade is five, and it won’t take too long to hit that ceiling, rendering grabbing armaments null. By that point, it negates this feature because of it becoming redundant. Eventually, I didn’t bother at all. The one saving grace is that unless Lady Luck smiles upon you, it can take a decent chunk to locate something worthwhile. It’s frankly a coin flip if it’s a hindrance or not, but it did affect me, so I had to gloss over the possibility, just in case y’all have similar luck.
I’ve said it much earlier, but for the majority of my play-through, I didn’t notice a drop. Animations never looked jarring, and every strike was swift. I’m absolutely over the moon that it seems very well optimized where it matters, and that’s during general gameplay. Rather strangely, there’s a second or two of screen freeze when transitioning between Abyss floors, and if I had to surmise the cause, I reckon it’s due to loading the following procedurally generated area. The first time it occurred, I was afraid of a crash, but as I sunk more and more hours, that fear alleviated itself. Sadly, my eyes can’t differentiate between 30fps and 60fps, but my money is on the former. The good news is that given the aesthetic, I don’t anticipate the latter is impossible, or go PC.
Within my inner circles, I often hear a ton of disparaging comments on chibi art style in general. That said, if you fall into that belief, I don’t think Silent Hope is changing your mind. I personally find it adorable. The colors are vibrant, particularly popping on an OLED screen. The character portraits are stunning, but I can’t say the same for the environments. They’re plain, but I can understand the decision for the genericism. The Abyss isn’t created by human hands, being plopped together by AI. I’d assume that having sweeping detail may mess with how clean it looks. Clipping could be a factor or there could maybe be an oddity in the visuals. In the end, it’s serviceable, and I’ve no complaints. It won’t be peak graphical prowess, but it fits nicely, and the flourishes that do exist are delightful.
The soundtrack for Silent Hope isn’t memorable, but I can’t, in good conscience, say that it’s terrible. None of the songs are offensive. In fact, I thought they melded well with the area they represented. The snow level is one I couldn’t help but be reminded of Blue Reflection, and that’s a good thing because that game was pretty damn swell. Sadly, thanks to the structure of the gameplay, it doesn’t take too long before the audio musings blend into the background. On the flip side, I’m a sucker for that because it means I can toss on a podcast while I mindlessly massacre my way deeper into The Abyss. I can catch up on some pro-wrestling while out collecting as much loot as I can carry, and I rate that as a win.
Yes, Silent Hope isn’t profound, but what it does manage is being stupid fun. The loot grind, when paired with a silky combat system, makes for an enjoyable romp of treasure hunting. Sure, it’s not going to win Game of the Year Awards and won’t redefine Action RPGs, but it accomplishes something I think is more important. It’s a bloody good adventure and has a concept that I hunger to see honed and improved upon for a possible sequel. Okay, that’s likely my wishful thinking, and it’s probably a one-off, but a man can dream. Even if it is, it fills the hole of its niche snugly. It’s priced as a budget title, as well, and thanks to that, the value is nailed at $49.99.
Nothing about the visual fidelity is going to blow your mind. However, that doesn’t matter because the character models are crazy good. The environments are decent, but hey, AI generates those areas, so I get it the want not to overcomplicate. I do like the hand drawn portraits, but I’m a weeb. Unsurprisingly then, that anime opening is chef’s kiss.
The mechanics are simple and nothing is going to astound. What I like is how everything so nicely melds together seamlessly. If you’re not going to innovate, I say do what you do perfectly and the accolades will follow. It does that, but moments of frustration holds it back.
Nothing is particularly memorable about the music. The audio musings are good, and when I’m playing, they’re beautiful to hear. The voice acting isn’t bad either. Yeah, the Princess is the prominent actress, but she kills it. If only she took a rest when in the hub base instead of blabbering incessantly.
Its straightforward without fluff. I loved going around, opening chests and collecting loot. Maybe I’m just a materialistic boy, but it tickles my taint like nothing else.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Silent Hope is available now on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Silent Hope was provided by the publisher.