Children of Silentown is a lovely point-and-click adventure game by Elf Games, Luna2 Studio, and Daedalic Entertainment.
There’s an irresistible charm to the childish macabre aesthetic in Silentown. Most of the time the game presents its visuals with broad strokes and down-to-earth tones, then replaces them with a colorful and vibrant fantasy palette or a harsh and sinister chalky void, depending on the narrative tone. Accompany this with soft music that flips from sincere to tense to bouncy given the mood, and you get this emotional soundtrack from start to finish. I cannot praise the artistic vision enough.
That being said, the core gameplay doesn’t come together as seamlessly. You click around Silentown to solve environmental puzzles, but it inconsistently demands a strict order of operations or brute-forcing your way into a solution. The puzzle logic stretches itself just out of the realm of reasonable thinking at times, but you can play a song to reveal insight from the townsfolk. To do this, you have to solve a more mechanical sort of puzzle game like piecing together bits of torn paper or turning tiles to create a path.
These are a welcome reprieve from the rest of the gameplay, which feels like an exercise in leaving no stone unturned. The writing carries the experience and keeps you pushing through. It isn’t wholly original, but the familiarity makes it even more off-putting. People are disappearing in Silentown, and no one seems to care except you. Loud noises are banned, there’s a strict curfew, and singing is frowned upon by the elder curmudgeons, lest you be kidnapped by whatever creatures dwell in the forest. Each chapter is increasingly more foreboding than the one prior, but it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
The puzzles in later chapters offer more depth as the environment becomes more dynamic and you unlock more songs to control strange plants and animals. This is where all the gameplay elements come together to feel equally challenging and rewarding. But while the second half of the story is more meaningful and delivers a heartfelt moral, it feels more generic than the first half, which is shallower yet far more immersive.
Overall, Children of Silentown is a treat with fun gameplay and amazing storytelling, but they’re not always happening at the same time. The story and presentation have enough going on to keep you attached as the puzzles steadily improve in quality. The plot may fall out in the back end, but I’d still recommend it to anyone who can’t get enough innocent feel-good horror that resonates even in adult minds.
Children of Silentown is available January 11 for $19.99 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Children of Silentown.