Silent HopeNintendo Switch, PC ¦ RPG
The daily grind. Now we’re not talking about the one in our daily lives, where we sleep, eat, work, repeat, but the one that many of us do for fun. In video gaming worlds.
It seems a peculiar pastime, levelling up a character so they can progress deeper into their adventure, but there’s something almost therapeutic doing so, as you manage to rise their stats and gain a certain kind of pride in levelling them up.
This RPG dungeon crawler from developers Marvelous, is a grinder’s wet dream, as it gives you a number of characters to contend with throughout your adventure.
The story is surprisingly on the dark side, which sees a king force his subjects to never talk again. Then one day, the king finds himself disappearing into a very deep hole known as the Abyss. You would imagine this would prompt the locals to find their voices once again and have a good old knees-up, but no.
Instead his daughter, the princess of the land, weeps so hard she crystallises her tears around her so that she is encased in them. She then asks the help of seven adventurous types to go down into the Abyss and rescue her father. Now if we were them, we’d sympathise with her plight, but then point out how better off we are without him, seeing that we could have a chat about what was on Gogglebox and that. But not these well-meaning shmucks, who agree to risk it all for a king who really doesn’t give a damn about them.
So within the game there’s a central hub, where you can do a number of things before setting off down that big hole. You get to choose your character first of all, as they can only disappear inside the Abyss one at a time, and equip them as best you can.
Once inside, you travel through a map killing all the creatures there until you have found the way out. Killing critters leads to levelling up, but only the character you’re currently playing. You then continue for as long as you can through the various levels, until you die, which means you drop all the bits and pieces you’ve collected along the way, and return to the hub. The good news is that dying doesn’t affect your levelling up, so you will return with whichever level you have achieved.
Now once at the top you can do a number of things; tend to a farm, tend to a field, create some recipes to improve your abilities and use a forge to create and upgrade items. It’s all very basic stuff, especially as you only have a couple of slots open to you initially, but it gives you a slight break from your killing spree in the Abyss. They tend to take some time to create, so by the time you have done your thang, they’re usually done by the time you return. And then you repeat.
Now every character you choose has their own abilities, sword, knives, magic etc. They have special abilities too, that can also be upgraded along the way. Now each character is supposedly more suitable to particular areas of the Abyss, but we didn’t necessarily find that to be the case.
We started off swapping them out on a regular basis, just to try and keep the levelling up process fairly even. But by the time we got to level 10 with a few of them, we had already worked out our favourite, as you invariably would, and just stuck with that one character. For us it was the mage, as her powers had a little more range to them, so you wouldn’t have to get into sticky up close combat scenarios. So far we’ve levelled her up to 17, and we’ve kind of lost interest in the other characters. Which begs the question – why have so many? Perhaps it would have been more apt to have you forced to play certain characters for certain levels, just so they feel that there was a reason for them being there if nothing else. You can imagine hanging back at the hub, milking a cow, thinking that you’re missing out on all of the fun, hardly living your best life. But sadly there is no necessary juggling act, which means a number of the characters are surplus to requirements. This may change the deeper into the game you go, but 20 plus hours into it and we haven’t found that happen yet.
That said, even if you don’t rotate characters, there’s plenty of grinding fun to be had. Obviously the deeper you go into the Abyss, the stronger your foes will be. We found the slowly, slowly catchy monkey approach suited us, just continuously levelling up at a rate where we felt competent at the level, or floor, of the map we were comfortable at. There is incentive to go deep however, as the deeper you go, the greater and more varied rewards, with some items that can only be created with items found in the depths.
Each floor is made up of a number of levels, and has a distinct look and feel. And each one has at least two fires that act as starting off points, so you don’t have to start from the first level every time once you’ve reach it. This allows you to replay various sections again, just for the sake of levelling up, without putting you in a great deal of peril.
So with your weapon and magical abilities in hand, you go off into the depths, killing and collecting stuff. And that’s pretty much it.
And yet it’s probably enough for lovers of this type of game. Admittedly you can fall into quite a pleasant trance-like state as you go about your business, happy grinding away. The only time when there’s a sense of tension is when you push yourself just a little too much, possibly just getting a bit too cocky for your own good, as you find yourself surrounded by some tough enemies, running low on life, about to lose some nice new additions to your ever-growing bounty.
It’s a style of game that we have admittedly shied away from, as it’s never really appealed, and yet Silent Hope has a genuine charm about it, sucking you in to a world of exploration, constantly upgrading equipment, and doing all you can to keep on levelling up.
The only one annoying issue would be the princess herself, who, ironically enough considering the game’s name, never shuts up when you’re at the hub, going through your chores. So much so that it’s recommended to turn the sound down when you’re there, because it’s guaranteed she will do your head in.
If you are new to the world of dungeon crawlers, as we were, this could be the considered the perfect introduction to the genre, with its well-balanced pacing, varied characters to choose from, intriguing story and wide selection of monsters. So pick your weapon and dive into the world of the Abyss and get your grind on, because it could be highly rewarding.