For quite some time now, many regarded the adventure genre a dying breed, but who could blame those making such accusations? The point-and-click platform had not seen any new titles for a considerable amount of time and the meager lot of games that were released were far from memorable. Thanks to "The Adventure Company", new life has been breathed into the genre and fans around the world are rejoicing with anticipation the extensive amount of titles announced. With such an ample selection, many have also started to wonder if quantity had become a larger concern over quality, in the case of "The Moment of Silence", the simple answer is No.
The game starts with a stunning cutscene. The year is 2044, Brooklyn, New York. The main character, Peter Wright, a man troubled and trying to combat against his own demons, is having another rough night sleeping when he is awoken by the sound of his floor's elevator opening. Peering through the peephole on his door, the open lift reveals a SWAT unit, armed to the teeth setting up shop in front of his neighbor's door to breach and enter. Storming out shortly after their entry and with a man in their custody, the man's wife and son close behind are soon returned to their apartment in a swift and rough manner. In the action, the man's son drops his teddy bear in the hall during the ruckus and this is where "Moment of Silence" begins. The events Peter witnessed that night set in motion a story of governmental cover-ups and conspiracy theories comparable to an episode of the X-Files. Moment of Silence's interface is straightforward enough, the inventory is easily accessed by lowering the mouse into the bottom area of the screen, which in turn raises up a bar presenting Peter's collection of items. The game does not incorporate any quick-save or load functions but players are compensated by being given the possibility to record their progress at any given time. The controls are straightforward as well. The entire game is played with the mouse and two keyboard buttons. While it sounds good in theory, Moment of Silence suffers from an awkward pathfinding method. This issue leads to much frustration when trying to navigate as your character ends up not responding on occasion or acts as if he is immobilized for some strange reason. The navigation issue aside, the controls are perfectly suited for the game as it is heavily dialogue oriented. Moment of Silence does not innovate on anything new to the genre, but it also lacks in an already important part, puzzles. Those that are present throughout the length of the game are not very challenging, which is somewhat of a letdown for an adventure game. Most action is presented through pre-rendered cutscenes, which isn't completely uncommon for the genre, but this title features an excessive amount of talking. Clues and plot progression is more often than not achieved through intensive sessions, exhausting all the possible dialogue options with the profusion of characters present in Moment of Silence, which leads to my next point. The sheer amount of characters and locales to visit and the lack of proper bearing on what it is you are supposed to do will leave many players perplexed. Certain actions Peter must accomplish are so ambiguous, I found myself referring to a walkthrough on more than one occasion to clarify what it was I should have been doing.
Thankfully, the game features a Hint key that is assigned to the "H" key. Pressing it will indicate all the entrances and exits to alternative areas and continuing to hold it down displays additional icons, characters and areas of interest, which may help alleviate the confusion caused by certain objectives. Even with the bugs this title suffers from, they are all easily tolerable thanks to how engrossing the plot is. Moment of Silence is one of the most captivating adventure games since Syberia. While the pacing may seem slow the first few hours, further into the game players will become so absorbed, the average 20 hours of play will have flown past if they can just stick it out through all the dialogue.
The visuals in Moment of Silence are also a mixed bag. On one hand, the game's backgrounds are all stunning. The amount of detail put into each scene is nothing short of remarkable. This title features quite the assortment of locales ranging from exotic outdoor areas in Puerto Rico to a futuristic downtown Brooklyn and even a brainwashing facility in outer space. The game does an excellent job at creating a futuristic atmosphere without feeling like an over-the-top exaggeration. Moment of Silence also boasts some nice graphical features such as reflections, which adds a nice touch to the world. The problem with the futuristic New York is the desolate feel it gives off. The environments present in the game feel naked. While there are a few static characters in the background, you still cannot help but feel alone in a city that is supposed to be so active. The details in the scenes are exceptional, but the same cannot be said for the models present. Characters are extremely low-poly and high in jagged edges, while Anti-Aliasing does improve the jagged aspect, the models still seem like bad quality "Sims" models. With that said, Moment of Silence also boasts some highly impressive FMV cutscenes. These help to convey the action sequences that are too far and few, but are always a welcomed change of pace from the game.
The sounds in Moment of Silence are also varied and impressive, for the most part. For a game so reliant on dialogue, some of the voice work is suspiciously stale and monotonous, but for the most part, the game's main characters whom Peter will interact with through out the course of his journey are fairly respectable. Moment of Silence features hours upon hours of recorded voice work to sustain each character's impressive dialogue tree. Each individual sounds and acts different from the last, but the lip-synching is simply horrid. The mouth movements rarely synchronize with the words being spoken and make the game seem like a badly dubbed movie (when are they ever well dubbed?). The main character himself, Peter Wright, sounds believable in his role of a man with nothing to lose on a quest for the truth. Furthermore, Moment of Silence's sound effects are quite low-key. The majority of sounds seem quiet or non-existent, which is somewhat a letdown as well. The music in the game is solid overall, the tunes range from classical/instrumental to higher tempo tracks, all the while never seeming out of place or intrusive to the gameplay.
While The Moment of Silence has its fair share of problems, it undoubtedly has its fair share of redeeming features as well. The story and visuals are nothing short but spectacular and the sheer amount of voice work put into the game will certainly please fans. Then again, Moment of Silence revolves almost completely around dialogue, so patience will be a necessity. The bugs present in the game are what truly withhold this title from joining the inner-circle of the great adventure games, which are far and few amongst each other. While Moment of Silence isn't perfect, it's still damn good and something every fan of the genre should try at least once.
A short gameplay video can be found here.