The Thin Silence Review - A Dark Yet Hopeful Experience
The Thin Silence is a well-crafted game that weaves the intricacies of mental disorder into a story-line of recovery and self-worth. However, it also hiccups in its characters and the ramblings of its self-deprecating government.
The Thin Silence starts you off as Ezra, who seems to suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and more that snowball one after the other. Ezra was also a Minister of Borders during a war that seemed to end the world. The player’s goal is to keep moving forward in order to emerge from the underground darkness in which you find yourself. This game relies heavily on the use of allegory to underscore precisely what kind of state Ezra is in at particular times.
A Heavy Dose of Darkness
The developers wanted to use the world that Ezra is in to depict what is going on in his mind. Ezra sees things that aren’t there and speaks with himself in the darkness about knowing things, committing horrible atrocities, and not going back or thinking about what he’s done. In the beginning, Ezra is underground, but as the game progresses, it goes through stages of different illnesses that could be affecting the character.
We start off by shutting everything out; we are lost in darkness. The act that follows is bright and starts to touch on Ezra’s self-worth, and the identity of who his comrades-in-arms were. Ezra is thrown into despair again because of his conflicting thoughts over getting out completely free. Thrust down underground again, he accepts the past and what happened.
The game takes the highs and lows of each state of mind and accompanies them with dark and dimly lit or bright and radiant environments. The feelings of the character are considered at all times, which shows in the background with text and visuals alike. As we learn of Ezra, his illness, and his story, we also see an attempt and a desire to attack the government in some way throughout the game.
Time to Focus
The Thin Silence suffers from taking a broad topic and trying to redirect it too often. It seeks to speak politically of government failings, the trope of chaos begets order and vice versa. Since it also covers broad spectrums of mental illness and political topics, the story and its original meaning seem to be lost sometimes, especially in a game that only takes roughly four hours to beat.
Not only are you reliving war, you are also watching it through the eyes of a mentally ill person. But when the game becomes too focused on what the government is doing wrong and overthrowing it, you begin to feel like you are in a different game than the one you were just playing. The Thin Silence was built around the idea of a clinically depressed PTSD human, not government reform. Yet, the topic of reform comes in at two critical moments of the game.
One of them is in a collectible journal. The other is when you finally meet Ithaca, an old companion of Ezra, who calls for reform and asks Ezra to help. The game mentions Ithaca at the beginning, and she seems to be someone special, someone who directs the flow and narrative of who Ezra is. For her focus to be a corrupt government instead of pure loss or love is tangential to what this game is really about.
Characters are essential to the overarching story due to their unique connections to Ezra. However, the pixel graphics didn’t convey the characteristics you’d expect from influential people. They lacked visual impact equal to their noteworthy appearances in the text.
Crafting to Beat the Puzzles
One of the most phenomenal parts of this game was the crafting system. To make a simple crafting system for such a short game felt unnecessary at first but soon became one of the most excellent parts. To bypass individual puzzles, you need tools that you can craft out of three items or less. These items range from a boot, rope, or battery. By combining eight or so items, you could make a plethora of tools that each has its use or sometimes many uses.
Once you craft the necessary gear, the game’s puzzles are no challenge. The most substantial problem, other than figuring out which tools could make what, is walking everywhere in this world. With no speed up button, the game forces you to take things nice and tediously slow.
An Almost Clear Message
The Thin Silence really shows off its skills when you are watching the world change around you to match exactly what Ezra is going through. It tells a story of hope and meticulously explains it. Even when it treads off the beaten path, it manages to bring you back. The game’s focus lacks, but its message does not.
|Meticulously Detailed Text||Simple Puzzles|
|Simple and Fun Crafting||Diverging Focus|
|Intricate Story||No Sprint||Collectables|