The Silent Age brings time travel, the apocalypse, and good old intrigue to your iOS device.
It’s a story you may have heard before: following the collapse of civilization, a man travels back in time to try and prevent the impending apocalypse. Just because it’s not an original story, though, doesn’t prevent The Silent Age from sinking its fangs into you. The free point-and-click delivers a tale with mystery and character, and the promise of a new spin on an old idea.
The Silent Age is the first episode in a series and it gives away just enough to provide an intriguing hook. From the beginning, you’re in the dark about practically everything. A series of montages show the man you are about to meet in years past, as he moves from one dead-end job to the next. As the years roll by, the glimpses are accompanied by soft music – a bit melancholic, a bit discordant, and just a bit unsettling.
When the actual game begins, you are given control of Joe. The year is 1972 and Joe is just a lowly janitor in a large corporation with no obvious purpose. Joe may as well be any other average guy, blending into the nameless corporation with his own featureless face. Through a sudden stroke of luck, Joe is “promoted” to a janitor position with access to the deeper parts of the company. It’s here, in the bowels of the corporate building, that you find a dying time traveller. With only a few minutes left to live, the man entrusts the hapless janitor with a solar-powered time travelling device, and some information: the world as you know it is about to end, and it’s now your task to stop this from happening.
From here, Joe is thrown into something much bigger than himself. Using the device can send him between his own time and a point in the future where all that’s left of humanity are corpses and destruction. There’s a stark contrast between the shiny, well-lit vector art of the present and the dark, broken appearance of the future.
Many of the puzzles in the game are based on the simple but effective feature of travelling between these two points in time. A door that’s locked in the present may be open in the future. A key you need now might be in the hands of a future corpse. The transition between the two times becomes natural and presses the story forward instead of locking it down.
Another locked door…
On the other hand, there are way too many locks and most of the obstacles Joe must overcome deal with locked doors. Often, progressing in the game means finding a way to open a closed door. Sometimes all it takes is a few time jumps. Other times, you may have to get more creative – like when the door is blocked by a wasp nest. But any way you paint it, the locked door device is a little overused.
The rest of the obstacles before Joe can be overcome with the exploration and testing of your surroundings. The controls consist of a simple tap to move or interact with an item, double-tap to do it faster. Get to know Joe’s surroundings and the path you have to take generally becomes pretty clear.
Joe picks up a few items in his travels too, but their uses are intuitive and not too far-fetched. In the case of the previously mentioned wasp nest, for instance – don’t wasps hate fire? And isn’t that a conveniently abandoned lighter laying by the corpse of a man who’d been out on his cigarette break? Once you see all the options, the way forward is often that easy to spot.
The Silent Age – Episode 1 is a very short game. It’s also not a particularly difficult game. But the creepy atmosphere, the skeletal remains of the future, and the big question mark that hangs over the entire affair will leave you eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the story. Will our lowly Joe the janitor manage to save humanity? I hope episode two will uncover the mystery. For now, check out the first episode, and find yourself inexplicably hooked.
The Silent Age, by House on Fire, is available now for iOS.