The Moment Of Silence 
by Lucien
February 27, 2005

 
German developers House of Tales are best known for Mystery of the Druids which achieved mixed reviews in 2001.

Four years later and they are back with The Moment of Silence.

The Moment of Silence (TMoS) is a huge game, spanning 75 rendered locations and about 500 screens, so thankfully in the UK it was released on DVD.

Published in the UK by Digital Jesters it has been backed by an aggressive TV marketing strategy where it sponsored Battlestar Galactica.  It’s refreshing to see a publisher actively promoting adventures games in this fashion.

So sit back listen to the orchestral music while it installs 3.5 GB of fun onto your hard disk.

Plot

The Moment of Silence is a conspiracy and espionage thriller set in New York 2044.

Step into the shoes of Peter Wright, a communications designer currently working on the Government's 'Freedom of Speech' campaign.  Peter is currently on hiatus from work after a “luddite” terrorist bomb blew up the plane that was carrying his wife and son.

His mourning is interrupted when his neighbor's apartment is stormed by a SWAT team and the Journalist husband arrested with no explanations.  Peter offers to investigate and is drawn into a world of corruption, power and global domination which will see you travel the globe in pursuit of the truth.

The plot is one of the games main selling points and although not entirely original, the Orwellian storyline kept me hooked right until the end.

It is a storyline that echoes current trends in today’s technological society and one that Science Fiction authors have used on several occasions.

Interface

The interface is standard mouse controlled Point and Click that most adventurers know and love.

Left click is used to move the character around the screen or interact with the hotspots. Right click the mouse to examine items or hotspots.

The inventory is located along the bottom of the screen and appears when you move the cursor over that area.  Items in your inventory can be examined with a right click or selected with a left click of the mouse button.

A nice feature is the inclusion of a few keyboard shortcuts.  Holding down the “H” will highlight exits in the current location (Sometimes), hold it down for a few more seconds and it will highlight the hotspots for items to collect or people to talk to.

The “M” key can also be used to call up your Messenger which is integral to the plot and some of the puzzles.  Think of it as a mobile PDA, vid-phone, Cash card and ID all in one.  It is the one gadget that people in 2044 can’t do without.

One of the major flaws of this game comes apparent when trying to move Peter around. Sometimes he has a mind of his own and will wander off in completely unexpected trajectories.  The Path-finding is extremely bad especially in smaller locations like the Cafe or Antiques shop.  It is also difficult on occasion to locate exits as they are not always highlighted even if you use the “H” to assist.  There were a couple of points in the game where I couldn’t progress further just because I hadn’t triggered a camera change that wasn’t indicated with the “H”.

Puzzles

Puzzles are mostly of the inventory and conversational type with a couple of logic puzzles thrown in.  Think Longest Journey and you won’t be far wrong.

The conversational aspects of the game are long and detailed.  It really adds to the atmosphere, characterization of the main players and the overall plot progression.  Although there are a few conversations that get a bit long winded and could have done with some editing as they don’t really progress the plot.

Fortunately for those of you adverse to long conversational type games, they can be bypassed by left clicking the mouse to skip sentences, but I think you are doing the game a disservice as you are missing out on some superb voice acting.

I also encountered a couple of occasions where the cause and effect connection of some puzzles was off.  For Example: You were given the option to ask about an item you needed even though you hadn’t found the item in question or at one point I talked to a character about a conversation that hadn’t taken place yet.  Spooky and mildly annoying to say the least.

Overall TMoS is a challenging game that should take about 20 hours to complete.  The difficulty level on the puzzles varies from the simple talk to everyone in sight to the frankly obscure.

Graphics and Sound

The Moment of Silence utilizes 3D character models in front of highly detailed 2D rendered backgrounds (displayed at 1024x658).  It is refreshing to see an adventure displayed at a high 1024X658 resolution which makes the game world appear highly pleasing to the eye.  Each location in the game looks stunningly realistic with nice shadow and reflection effects.

The cut scenes are uniformly excellent throughout the game.  I especially liked the transition between some locations with a sweeping camera that alters the viewpoint of certain locations in real time as you character runs past.

Unfortunately I was wishing for more life in each area I visited.  New York and the other locations felt very empty and devoid of life.  This is especially true of the character models that inhabit the world.  They all have noticeably short animation routines and you get the impression that they are glued to the ground.  No matter how many times you come back the same characters never move a muscle.

There were also a few graphical glitches within the game.  Most notably when you speak to one hooker her cigarette seems to float in the air independent of her hand.

Sonically TMoS is a joy to the ears.  The musical soundtrack is always excellent with some stirringly powerful tunes that always seem appropriate to the tone of the story and location.

Voice acting in adventures can vary from the superb Day of the Tentacle to the less than spectacular voices in “The Watchmaker”.

With a dialogue heavy game like TMoS, the voice acting needs to be of a very high standard.  Fortunately for us, in TMoS each character has a distinct personality.  There are a cast of about 35 characters, and the voices more than live up to expectations.  I can’t really fault the voice acting in the game (although there are a couple of strange accents).  It is a pleasure to listen to.

Summary

The Moment of Silence is probably one of the best adventures to be released in the last couple of years.  It is a giant step in the right direction for The House of Tales and one on which they can build on for future releases.

Overall TMoS is an excellent but flawed title that could have been a classic.

Highly recommended for fans of conspiracy theories and long conversations.

Rating: 7.5/10

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