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Silent Hope Review: A Fresh Breath in Roguelike Dungeon-Crawling

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via XSEED Games

A Nintendo Switch code was provided to GamingPizza for this review. Silent Hope will be available on October 3, 2023 for Nintendo Switch and PC.

In the vast universe of isometric dungeon-crawlers, few have managed to carve as distinct a niche as Silent Hope. XSEED Games, a subsidiary of Marvelous, has managed to deliver a tale that feels both nostalgic and refreshingly modern, culminating into a near-perfect gaming experience — made even more impressive by the fact that I’m someone who doesn’t necessarily gravitate towards roguelikes or dungeon-crawlers.

From the onset, the game’s premise is instantly captivating. Imagine a world stripped of verbal communication, where our only connection is through action and the occasional telepathic touch. The backstory, centering around a former King who deprives humanity of speech and a heartbroken Princess whose tears lay the foundation for our journey, sets an emotional tone that stays with you throughout.

Suited to your style of gameplay

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via XSEED Games

Venturing into The Abyss offers a blend of combat, unpredictability, and anticipation. No two journeys feel the same, thanks to the randomized layouts. This uncertainty, while echoing inspirations from Hades, is presented in a more toned-down manner. For newcomers to the dungeon-crawling genre, this makes Silent Hope a welcoming entry point. The challenges are evident, but not insurmountable. And for the seasoned pros of the genre, there’s enough depth to keep the intrigue alive.

The ability to change characters is, without a doubt, one of the game’s crowning achievements. Each of the seven heroes presents a unique combat style and a distinct non-combat role. Encountering a boss or section that’s giving you a tough time? Simply switch characters. The Farmer, with her intriguing control, feels reminiscent of an actual Rune Factory game — another XSEED title — while the Mage manages to capture the crowd control and offense-from-afar aspect often associated with those types of characters. Meanwhile, the Warrior’s slower yet powerful strikes offer a stark contrast to the swift and deadly Fighter. This diversity ensures that there’s always a fresh approach awaiting you.

More than just a roguelike

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via XSEED Games

But it’s not all about the battle. Back at the Base Camp, a whole new dimension opens up. Each hero contributes differently — from alchemists to blacksmiths. The strategic planning and upgrading that happens here is just as crucial, if not more, than the combat itself.

Localizing a game where most of its cast can’t verbally communicate is no small feat. But Silent Hope handles it with grace. While the narrative might sometimes appear to be surface-level, the emotional tone is undeniably profound. From the Princess’s monologues to the little battle grunts, there’s a surprising connection with the characters that’s hard to ignore. In no time, you’ll find yourself deeply invested in the characters’ journey, rooting for their every step.

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Visually, the game’s storybook aesthetic is an absolute treat. The combination of its vibrant colors with its melancholic narrative backdrop creates a contrast that is both jarring and beautiful. The result is a world that feels as though it’s sprung right out of a fairytale, albeit with a modern twist.

A silent success

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via XSEED Games

A major draw for Silent Hope is its masterfully crafted boss battles. These encounters are grandiose affairs, captivating in their design and escalating in intensity as you dive deeper into The Abyss. They aren’t just about raw power or flashy moves; understanding each character’s unique strengths and employing them at pivotal moments becomes essential. With every subsequent challenge, the game ensures that players are both rewarded and pushed to adapt, making every victory feel earned and memorable.

Yet, even with all its strengths, Silent Hope isn’t without its shortcomings. The narrative, while emotionally charged, occasionally feels underexplored. Given the richness of the premise and the group of characters that seemed destined to take part in this grand adventure, I’d love to take an even deeper dive into the story’s intricacies. However, these moments are few and far between, overshadowed by the game’s myriad strengths.

Silent Hope is a shining example of how games can evolve within a genre while staying true to their roots. It combines the thrill of dungeon-crawling with a deeply emotional narrative, packaged beautifully in a storybook aesthetic. For anyone seeking a blend of action, strategy, and story, this is a must-play. Come October 3, 2023, when the game officially releases on Nintendo Switch and PC, you’ll do well to embark on this unforgettable journey.

And remember, in the silent world of Silent Hope, actions speak louder than words.

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