Silent Hope (Nintendo Switch) Review
By Philip Watson,2023-09-27
Marvelous Games is known for its approach to easy-going slice-of-life titles, and Silent Hope bleeds that very aesthetic the company is known for. Including beautiful anime-inspired artwork and excellent sound direction, fans only have to erase most of the slice-of-life bits from the Rune Factory series, kick up the focus on material gathering and dungeon diving (without farming mini-games), and toss in the ability to play as seven different main characters.
This is the formula Silent Hope is the creation from. Albeit a harder action title with a lot less of the personality and character autonomy that slots right in with the company’s usual fare after taking the reins on the Harvest Moon (now known as Story of Seasons ) franchise in 2013. Except Silent Hope focuses on action and leaves out a lot of what separates the Rune Factory series from “just another hack-and-slash adventure title” and inserts many mechanics that make Silent Hope feel more like a Rune Factory Rogue-like.
I was thrown into the world’s lore without training wheels (despite the tutorial), and it’s up to the player to figure out what exactly happened to the Kingdom and its inhabitants after catastrophe struck. A once-prosperous Kingdom is stricken with a calamity, and the King uses his magic to steal away the voices of the people (hence Silent Hope ), adding a layer of canon to the silent protagonists, of which there are seven (no relation to The Boys ).
The Princess of the Kingdom summons forth the seven heroes of Silent Hope to solve the mystery of why the King stole the Kingdom’s subjects’ voices and ultimately find out why the King abandoned everyone. This is a copy-and-paste feeling storyline set up. Still, as you adventure through the hardships of The Abyss (the title’s resident dungeon players must explore many floors of), you uncover more about why the King did what he did. Thankfully, there is a payoff when all is said and done.
“Marvelous Games is known for its approach to easy-going slice-of-life titles, and Silent Hope bleeds that very aesthetic the company is known for.”
The seven heroes are represented by their class names: a mage, a brawling fighter, the balanced sword-and-board wanderer; and what anime game could even exist without a maid (rogue) class with dual-wielding daggers? There’s even a warrior class who follows a common anime trope of a small female character with a comically sized great weapon (similar to Tinkaton from Pokemon Scarlet & Violet or Seras VICTORIA from Hellsing ). Each character features a different fighting style and different damage types that make it easier to slay certain enemies than other classes.
There’s slashing, blunt, and magic damage in Silent Hope , along with elemental damage. Water is good against fire, blunt damage hurts armoured foes, and so on. Using these matchups is crucial in dealing with foes most effectively, but I’ve noticed I hardly ever needed to use more than the basic Wanderer class, it features a defensive buff and a shield bash that makes short work of armour. Speaking of, each character comes with its own set of abilities that do different kinds of damage as well. The warrior class has a blunt skill, the mage class has a slashing skill, and you get the point.
Classes can rank up as well. Each class can become an advanced class if the player levels it enough. This provides the player with three more skills to swap in and out of their repertoire. This does add variety to the gameplay, changes the character’s outfit, and gives Silent Hope somewhat of a progression system.
“Silent Hope is a solid action title that is almost roguelike with its varied random dungeon generation, but too Silent for my tastes.”
But it just doesn’t feel like genuine progression when the other six characters don’t level up with the one being used. This feels like punishment for using one class more than the rest and artificial game lengthening for those who just want to try another class. A level one character almost needs to start from the beginning, considering their HP bar is so small.
Silent Hope has an amazing presentation. The Princess’ guiding voice is done admirably (hats off to Dani Chambers), and the art style is simple but wondrous to look at. This meshes well with its excellent soundtrack and a simple but tight control scheme that makes Silent Hope play well for what it is. There are even randomly generated floors in the title’s central dungeon, which makes it feel like Persona 3 ’s Tartarus, except with a more varied atmosphere. While the combat does work, and the title looks pretty, I do have gripes to contend with.
Although Silent Hope takes place in the same universe as Rune Factory , the main plot foil of the title, the silent characters bit tear away much of the personality those titles came equipped with. We have a rogue maid that dual-wields daggers in The Abyss and runs a woodworking shop in the hub area outside of The Abyss, but without a voice, the character falls flat. The same goes for the rest of the cast. More context on who these characters are could help create interest in them.
This spin-off Rune Factory includes the adorable cow aesthetic from Story of Seasons but does not allow players to interact with them individually. All farming is done from a tedious menu that does not feel fun to navigate. The same goes for every other workshop, and the process is inserting ingredients, paying the price, waiting, and Voilà!
“Each character features a different fighting style and different damage types that make it easier to slay certain enemies than other classes.”
The crafting and crop cultivating systems have been declawed to such a degree, that all the functionality may as well have been thrown into the same menu to save time. While each station has a different function, they all operate in the same manner, which makes plodding around the hub world more of a chore than it should be. Ultimately, it feels like more artificial game lengthening.
Lastly, Silent Hope screams that it wants to be a multiplayer title, but it isn’t. With the seven solidly designed main characters and the way each would play better off each other if they were on the same screen, it just feels like a missing component that would make the title feel less empty. Without any voices besides the Princesses’ endless serenade on the player, it would have felt cool to explore with a friend. This could be a me problem, though, considering the title has a good difficulty curve in single-player and Silent Hope was designed with single-player as the prime focus.
Silent Hope has some good ideas. Use the tried-and-true Story of Seasons aesthetic (especially those cows), insert combat and a randomly generating dungeon, with the plus side of living inside of the Rune Factory universe and beautiful graphics and musical score make this a functional action title for fans of the Marvelous catalogue. However, the lack of multiplayer, endless menus, and the empty world without voices make Silent Hope feel like it lacks character other Marvelous games pedal in droves. Silent Hope is a solid action title that is almost roguelike with its varied random dungeon generation, but too Silent for my tastes.