Reviewed: May 4, 2007
Released: March 20, 2007
Strap on your armor and grab the nearest bladed instrument, weíre getting a little hack happy. Silverfall is a game that I would have thought to see these days, because itís a Diablo II clone with a little NWN thrown in for good measure.
Sound boring? Well, youíre right, but someone made it, which means someone will buy it, which I may as well get on with this and hopefully save you some cash.
Like any good Diablo clone Silverfall apes the look and feel of the template. You play from a top down camera angle and dispatch thousands of digital beasties to the dark recesses of your mainframe from whence they came. You have a variety of methods to make your way through these hordes of minions, and a similarly robust skill tree to hone those skills. Unfortunately the game really ends there. Most of the dialogue is riddled with typos and spacing errors, the quests are at best loosely tied together and the plot has holes big enough for several dragons to walk through comfortably.
To start with the good, Silverfall has a skill tree system like most RPGís these days. What makes the Silverfall system interesting is mostly the opposition setup between the nature tree and the science tree. While you do have access to the usual combat and magic options (specializations in ranged or melee combat, elemental damage, necromancy, or healing) but also there are the two opposing forces of technology and nature in the world.
Each branch has its own advantages, but you have to choose one or the other. So performing side quests and increasing your devotion to one cause gives you access to greater powers. While none of this is new, the skill trees were the best part of the game, though I have a bit of a weakness for messing with character creation and progression. I may not be a game breaker on a grand scale, but I enjoy trying. So if you arenít particularly interested in skill trees or stat boosting then you should just walk on by. Even if you are a fan there isnít a whole lot to recommend this title over, say a Disgaea type title, but you will find at least something to enjoy.
Unfortunately the "good" really stops there. Gameplay is dominated by mouse clicking ad nausea and a constant frustration with poorly executed mechanics. The top down camera is not too troubling most of the time, but you are restricted to such a close view it is often hard to find your way around. This is only exacerbated by the fact that the mini map is next to useless because it offers very little detail on the terrain around you. So if you have to go northwest to get to your next objective the arrow on the map with be pointing northwest, even if you first have to travel around three mountain ranges to the east to get there.
It also doesnít help that most objects in the world have a strange area of interaction. That is to say, many items that can be interacted with can be clicked on in only very specific areas, which may or may not correlate with their graphics. So selecting your character to cast those all-important heal or buff spells can be a difficult thing at times.
If that werenít enough there is also a slew of poorly executed secondary quests which are usually abruptly given out and usually involve about as much interest as farming quests in any MMO. Not only that, but many of them are so poorly worded or written that most of the plot is a series of forced scenes between what seems like bored villains, and it only gets worse as the game goes on.
Cell shading in a 3D game isnít exactly a new idea, but again thatís par for the course for Silverfall. Like most other aspects of this game the graphics arenít terrible in theory, but the execution is poor. The character models look like someoneís ham-fisted five year old drew them, and those are the actual game graphics. Close up images are even worse.
What puzzles me most about this game is the inclusion of a largely unused physics engine. Sure there are a few instances where doors open that have interesting mechanical effects that a physics engine probably helped, but the engine was used mostly when loot popped out of slain monsters. After dropping the latest slavering creature from whatever nameless depths loot would spring forth and bounce around almost as if rubberized. Aside from making one wonder exactly how lethal that broadsword they just picked up was. The net effect is more annoying than an interesting twist on an old mechanic. I mean how fun is it to have to chase after your ill-gotten gains after you already killed the dragon?
The special effects are great if it were five years ago. As it is, there are some pretty colors and the occasional nice flash, but nothing worth mentioning. The same can be said for cinematics, by which I mean that there arenít any.
Silverfall is one of the many games, which would actually benefit from removal of the voice actors. Not only are they at best homeless people drug off the street and given a script to read for their next shot of bourbon, but even they are bored with whatís happening.
The music is pleasantly forgettable, but that unfortunately leaves the sound effects little competition for your attention. About the fourth or fifth time you attack something you realize just how terrible a situation that is. This may have just been my misfortune, but one of the companions I picked up roared incessantly during combat. I considered killing him myself.
Despite a good skill tree I canít see anyone wanting to invest enough time to play through this game once, let alone wasting time on multiple jaunts. There is virtually no replay value, even with the idea of being able to play a wizard once and a warrior the other, even allowing for the nature and science aspects. Even worse, though there are several playable races they are a cosmetic choice and nothing else.
Silverfall is a title that had some potential, but suffers from a lack of quality control and an abundance of poor development decisions. There really isnít any reason to get the game, so save your money for PC upgrades so you can actually support Neverwinter Nights 2. That's an RPG worth playing.