Every so often I get the chance to play a game where I know nothing about it and have zero expectations, but am left pleasantly surprised at the experience. The latest case of that came with The Thin Silence – a 2D narrative-focused adventure that blends puzzle-solving with a genuinely harrowing tale. It’s not really the kind of game that you’d call ‘pleasant’, but its easy-going vibe and intriguing tale kept me hooked in until the very end.
The big focus of The Thin Silence is based around its narrative, with protagonist Ezra waking up in a cave unsure of who exactly he is and how he ended up there. Memories begin to return to Ezra over time though, whilst objects he finds in the environment act as gentle reminder to his past too. Slowly, he learns more about the person he is and the things he has done – the ultimate goal is learning how to cope with them, too.
The narrative itself is told through a clever thought-provoking process, with the game drip-feeding more and more information as you progress but still leaving the player guessing at what exactly is going on. It’s mysterious but also emotional, with the isolating and painful vibe emphasising the struggle that some people (Ezra especially) have to deal with.
The bulk of The Thin Silence’s gameplay is spent navigating through 2D environments, all whilst using the items you find around you to solve puzzles. It’s like a puzzling-platformer, but with more of an emphasis placed upon the puzzling side of the game than anything else. The items you find around you can be combined in different ways, some logical and some illogical, and working out what works together is the key to progression. It’s simple, but satisfying.
Whilst there are plenty of puzzles to solve in the game, they aren’t always that challenging. I rarely felt like I didn’t know what to do, and even when I did it typically just boiled to using trial-and-error with each item I had. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t make the puzzling any less fun and there are some real clever ones thrown into the mix – just don’t expect to ever feel overly challenged by what The Thin Silence puts your way.
Outside of the lack of challenge, there were moments of frustration with The Thin Silence thanks to Ezra’s slow walking speed. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be a metaphorical thing to go along with his troubled mind-set, but it ended up becoming a bit of a nuisance. Thankfully, the areas you explore are never too big so you’re not stuck travelling stupidly long distances doing nothing else, but it’s certainly something that most players will notice during their time with the game.
On the visual side of things, The Thin Silence embraces a very simple 2D style that does nothing too impressive but still manages to work thematically. The world itself is well designed though and some neat lighting effects help it come to life, though you shouldn’t expect to be blown away by anything you see. With the audio, the ambient background music is great and helps highlight the sense of loneliness felt by Ezra. It’s not upbeat nor does it seemingly stick to a melody, but it’s still somehow catchy and certainly stood out during the emotional journey.
With its emotional storytelling and simple puzzle-solving mechanics, there’s a whole lot to like about The Thin Silence. It actually surprised me, because the game does nothing that’s particularly unique yet it still manages to have its own distinct identity that helps it stand out.
I enjoyed my five hours with the game, though I will admit that the annoyingly slow walking speed and somewhat easy puzzles do stop it from being an essential adventure to embark on. Those who like their video games to be emotional ones should certainly consider checking The Thin Silence out, though.
Developer: TwoPM Studios
Publisher: Nkidu Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PC (Reviewed), Mac