Silent Hope Review
Crawling through dungeons is a time honoured pastime for RPG heroes. Digging deeper for treasure, glory, and a chance to save the world are all these heroes can wish for. In Marvelous’ Silent Hope seven different heroes appear to brave the Abyss and save their world. Some time-consuming interfaces and a distractingly chatty Princess cause some consternation, but fun dungeon crawling keeps players on their toes while well-balanced combat and encouraged character swapping keeps things fresh.
Silent Hope’s story is very basic. The Kingdom has been silent for years, and generations have passed without once hearing voices. In the past, the populace fought with each other and grew angry and frustrated with the King for not fixing their problems. The King in turn took everyone’s voices and dove deep in a fissure at the heart of the kingdom that grew, called the Abyss. After spending years trying to help the populace, the Princess becomes encased in crystal and her pleas for help go unanswered. However, seven heroes finally hear her voice and arrive at the entrance to the Abyss, where they set up a base camp and prepare to explore. There’s little beyond this synopsis as many lingering questions go unanswered.
The Abyss features multiple biomes, with each layer representing the growing rift between the King and the subjects. Traversing through the biome has the Princess recounting her version of events while the King has left tablets behind each of the main bosses to recount his side, with the clear communication gap being one of the driving forces behind everything. However, there’s little context on the worldbuilding beyond some fun bestiary entries that show the monsters in the Abyss were formally citizens of the Kingdom that embraced some form of negativity, which cursed them to turn into these monsters.
With the protagonists naturally being silent heroes, most of the vocal heavy lifting is left to the Princess. Unfortunately, she’s taken loneliness a bit too much to heart and will talk nonstop in town. The slightest movement will set off her disruptive commentary, and many of the Princess’ lines will be burned into the subconscious similar to a chatty pet, but with less of the charm. Despite this, the voice actress does a commendable job of conveying the naivety and loneliness that the Princess is feeling, which makes story beats found in the Abyss welcome to hear. Fortunately, her in town distractions can be lowered or shut off entirely following a post-launch update to the game.
Joining the Princess at the base camp are seven heroes with different fighting styles who can all dive into the Abyss at a moment’s notice. The six members of the party not currently set to dive into the Abyss serve as shopkeepers in the base camp. There’s a farm and a garden to gain materials for cooking, while an atelier for metal refinery and a workshop for carpentry are used to create equipment. The interface for this is clunky, requiring players to scroll through a list and choose each option manually then waiting a set amount of time while combatting in the Abyss for them to complete. Keeping up with the newest materials is absolutely necessary though due to how quickly stats on gear progresses. Since crafting new materials is only done in town there’s a hindrance to staying in the Abyss too long. Finding the balance between crafting too much and levelling in the Abyss to finish the materials is frustrating since the combat is so much more fun than the crafting process.
Each of the seven playable characters can unlock two additional classes. These classes come with new outfits and skills, though the new abilities can be used by any form once the class in unlocked. The first unlock becomes available at level 15. The final form unlocks really late in the game after defeating a boss, and though the new skills are fun to play around with, by this point players will have their favourites and play style firmly established. Classes can equip three of their available skills with resetting all the points as easy as a button press. Skills tend to fit into either pure offensive or more complicated builds. The offense-centered builds generally keep combat fluid and the characters feel devastating. More complicated builds utilize buffs or attacks that require precise timing to be fully effective, and it’s hard to get them to work together usefully as they often leave players open to hits. Given players can easily be just as effective by simply combining offence with dodging capabilities, it’s often not worth spending the time to make the most of these more advanced abilities.
As each character can only bring two healing potions, planning ahead is important. The beginning of each biome shows how many floors it will take to reach the boss, with a legend on the right showing what will be found on each floor. Important elements include green floors that signify a locked enemy room as well as the orange campfire floors that act as checkpoints players can restart an Abyss run from. The green floors can be frustrating, handicapping player movement to a small circular room making it easy to get surrounded if not careful. Players can also find floors with crystals on them that can be used to swap to another character or escape the Abyss altogether.
Occasionally a regular dungeon floor will also have a separate gate that, when entered, transports the player to a land of treasure chests, or more likely, a lot of elite monsters to try and survive to get items at the end. These elite monster areas are the only method to obtain sands of time, an item that makes any material crafting immediately complete. Some of these areas are the hardest spots in the game as a locked room can appear and there are no crystals leading to a lot of the player deaths from hubris that they will survive.
Most of the game’s challenge can be overcome with thoughtful planning or outclassing it with high-level gear. Ranged classes make this distinction easiest, but melee classes have quicker speed or stunning abilities and higher health to balance everything out. Utilizing the crystals to swap between appropriately strong characters is important to maintaining progress, thanks largely to the limited healing options. The only way to replenish the two healing potions during a run is to find one of the appropriate animals within the Abyss. Boss floors will always contain a potion, otherwise it is unreliable to rely on finding a replacement once the potions have been used. Fortunately, the game makes it enjoyable to swap characters during a run, and as long as they are appropriately geared, characters can catch up on levels quite easily.
Keeping the heroes balanced through loot drops is uneven, further necessitating players don’t try and focus on a single class. Even finding the equipment is just the first step as they are just plans, called mementos in Silent Hope, that need raw materials to craft the gear. With new ranks of gear popping up every biome that need new base materials it can lead to moments of stuttering progress. Characters that tore through enemies with abandon have to be played more strategically when the difficulty curve shoots up for each biome. Keeping players on their toes by necessitating they shift from full offence to dodging is welcome and allows for more aspects of the combat to be experienced. Players can only change equipment in the base camp, necessitating some strategy in whether or not to focus one or more characters on the defensive side in case the going does get tougher.
Silent Hope has a very cute art style. There’s nothing too terrifying or frightening here, just a story of darkness-defeating heroes personified by adorable character designs that have pinch-able cheeks. Enemies such as a kitty gryphon with adorable meows, and poofy cartoon bees try their best to dissuade adventurers by being almost too cute to attack. Almost being the key word here, as the tortured backstories of these enemies make them rather less innocent. Sound effects are sharp and poignant throughout the Abyss making cues easy to focus on and help follow through with attacks and precise dodging mechanics. Background music is whimsical, whether it’s combining with jumping into the Abyss or setting up a climatic showdown with a boss, there’s a sense of wonder and playfulness to every track and area in the game.
Silent Hope is an adorable romp through some dungeons. There are some detractions with the Princess trying her hardest to chat the player’s ear off as they try to navigate the frustrating menus in the base camp. But, each dive into the Abyss feels fun. Customizing the characters, obtaining more loot and punishing the too cute enemies is addicting. Many players should be happy to dive in to the Abyss and hit those adorable critters even if they might want to leave the Princess on mute.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Solid and balanced combat Swapping characters and playstyles on the go keeps things fresh Designs are adorable
Clunky UI Interface in the base camp Princess does like to talk constantly