The Moment of Silence Review

The year is 2044. The Earth has for many years been a united planet under one government, and futuristic technology has made life much easier and more streamlined. Most everyone seems to like things the way they are, and the world seems on the surface to be running very smoothly. However, there are a few exceptions to this, such as Luddite-style terrorists doing bombings and alien conspiracy theorists spouting paranoid propaganda.

Peter Wright is not in any way a part of these radical factions. He's a well-to-do communications designer who works for a prominent firm that does advertising campaigns for the government. He doesn't believe in aliens or secret government conspiracies or anything like that. Furthermore, Peter's wife and child were recently killed in what appeared to be a Luddite-related bombing incident, so he has good cause to hate the Luddites and all they stand for.

However, he is in fact destined to follow in their footsteps. It all starts one evening when his neighbor is forcibly abducted by the NYPD. The man's wife and child are shocked and have no idea why he was taken, and the police department officially denies the incident ever happened. Having lost his own family members, Peter is determined to do what he can to help find and return the missing man to his loving family. As the player, you direct Peter throughout the course of his investigations. And so it begins!

I found The Moment of Silence (TMOS for short) to be a very enjoyable adventure game. I haven't played many adventures recently, but ones like this are definitely going to convince me to get back to playing more in the future. I found the progressively ominous and complicated plot very intriguing every step of the way, and I was always anxious to find out what Peter would uncover next. I also found the ending very satisfying, and -- though it's not really all that original -- a bit surprising.

The game's graphics and sound were really very good, with lots of finely detailed backgrounds and appropriate mood music. The cinematic cut scenes are some of the best I've ever seen in a game. The animations in the game aren't bad, either, but they are often disappointingly minimal. This is especially true of character interactions. The NPCs (non-player characters) rarely move around at all, and often stand very still without even facing you when you're talking to them. They don't look bad as still graphics, but that's not what they're supposed to be.

But don't think that NPC interaction is minimal or of little impact on the game, though. Their animation may not be very detailed, but the dialogue certainly is! That's one aspect of the game that is very complete and satisfying. Instead of just letting you talk to a few key characters about only what's of importance right then, you've got a lot of people you can talk to about a lot of things, many of which are important to the plot and many of which aren't. Also, every line of dialogue is spoken aloud (with optional subtitles to go along with them), and the voice acting is mostly good. All of that really contributes toward making the storytelling aspect of the game a success and helps you to actually care what happens to these people.

As for the puzzle-solving element of the game, it's a real mixed bag. There are always "puzzles" of some sort to solve at every point of the game, but many of them involve simply finding the right person to speak to and choosing the right dialogue options or doing a simple and obvious thing with an inventory item. There are large stretches in the game where there are no puzzles of any real significance or difficulty, and then all of a sudden you run into a real puzzle, and it brings you to a screeching halt -- possibly for quite some time. No puzzle seemed completely random and unsolvable, but a few of them are very difficult to figure out. The big parabolic-dish-rotating puzzle near the end of the game was particularly dizzying with all its running around and experimenting to see what did what. A little more "evenness" in the puzzle difficulty would have been appreciated.

One thing that is often frustrating is the process of simply moving Peter around. There are no keyboard ways to do this (like the good old W-A-S-D or keypad arrow key ways), but instead you can only use the mouse to click (or double-click) on where you want Peter to walk (or run) to. That sounds just fine, but there are a lot of path-finding problems involved. For starters, in large open areas where it looks like you could walk around all over the place, you can often only follow very narrow, invisible paths from one point of interest to another. So all you have to do is click on where you want to go, and Peter will take the nearest invisible path to get there, right? Not necessarily. I can't count the number of times I've clicked on something and he started going in the opposite direction. Also, he has to be standing in a very specific spot in order to talk to people or examine items, even if it looks like he can do so from any number of other spots. Another problem is that many areas consist of several different closely connected screens which can be hard to navigate due to the above problems.

I'm happy to report that there are none of the infamous, inappropriate "action sequences" in this adventure game, and there's only one little timed sequence at the end that's very easy to get right (and that you get to try again if you happen to get it wrong). I greatly enjoy action games like Half-Life and DOOM, but I still don't like action or timed sequences of any sort in an adventure game, and on that score I'm very happy with TMOS.

Also, I didn't experience any major bugs at all while playing the game for this review. There were a few very rare and minor ones, such as Peter walking directly through a solid object and "floating" up some stairs instead of climbing them, but that's nothing. There is a version 1.01 patch available for download that fixes some problems, so give it a try if you have any bug or glitch difficulties.

Two more nice things I'd like to mention are that the game makes an autosave whenever you quit (which is autoloaded when you next run the game), and it has a helpful feature where you can press and hold the H key to have some (but not all) exits and interactive items and people highlighted. Every adventure game should have these.

Overall, TMOS is a very enjoyable adventure gaming experience. Some of the immersion is taken away by minimally animated NPCs, bad path-finding AI, and a couple of mind-twistingly inobvious puzzles. But these flaws are more than made up for with great graphics and sound and a well-developed storyline, which create a very enjoyable adventure gaming experience.

-- Stanley Dunigan