Silent Hope Review
When Silent Hope was announced as a spin-off to the Rune Factory series, I found that an intriguing concept. As a hardcore Rune Factory fan, I was interested in seeing what they could do with that world. It's not an especially interesting world as it is right now, but it's always been hinted that there's more to this world than meets the eye. The Kingdom of Norad and the Sechs Empire have always been present in the background of most Rune Factory games, and if there was a game that could go more in-depth on those two nations, there might be something to be had here. So I took a look at what Marvelous dug up for Silent Hope.
A prosperous kingdom was suddenly deprived of all forms of communication by its king. After sealing away the voices of the people, he dived into the Abyss - an area located below the earth. His daughter, the princess, stayed near the entrance to Abyss, crying and praying for his return. Over time, the princess' tears formed into a crystal around her. While still alive, she was now trapped inside. A thousand years later, seven heroes decide it's time to reverse the kingdom's fortunes and they decide to tackle the Abyss themselves to save their land.
The princess is the only person still capable of communication through thought projection, so she acts as the guide for the adventurers. As you explore Abyss, you can stand in certain spots for the princess to give you some more background on the story, or she'll share a personal moment from her past. How much you care about the princess will likely affect how much of her chatter you can stomach over the course of the game. Marvelous recently released a patch that lets players adjust how much she will talk at base camp. Before the patch, it seemed like the princess would always have some kind of comment to make, as if the game developers didn't want any empty silence while you were going about your mundane activities.
Silent Hope's main draw is its hack-n-slash RPG gameplay similar to Diablo. The Abyss is a multi-layered dungeon that randomly generates a different layout for each floor. Killing enemies will reward players with EXP and various materials that can be used for forging, cooking, and crafting back at the base camp. Currency takes the form of "runes" which plays a much different role than in Rune Factory games. You'll need to spend runes to do pretty much anything in base camp, which includes creating materials and equipment. Certain equipment will need to be appraised by the princess in order to be used, and these are usually powerful weapons.
Silent Hope has seven playable characters, each offering a different playstyle and weapon type. Each character is simply named after their class, giving you a basic idea of how that character will play right away. The Warrior plows through enemies with charges and heavy blows, the Caster can set up powerful magical combos, and the Archer can deal out quick hits from a safe distance. One of my favourite characters to play was the Rogue, with her ability to teleport instead of dash like most other characters, which allows her to get out of tight situations. Each character has a small set of skills that they can equip in battle, but the limitations of putting this on consoles instead of just on PC is that consoles lack the number of buttons you can use for skills.
In order to incentivize players to use the entire cast of characters instead of just a select few, players will be able to get temporary buffs when they switch characters in a dungeon. Each dungeon has large crystals that can be used to either return to base camp or swap in a new character. Swapping in a character that has yet to participate in the current expedition will get a buff from the previous character. Swapping out the Warrior will give a physical attack buff, the Farmer will provide an increased Rune bonus, and so on. Using the big crystals will destroy them, so players have to use whichever character they swapped in.
There are a couple of ways to cheat the system so you don't have to use a character you don't like to use. The game provides a preview of what players can expect to find on a given floor, and that includes if they have big crystals. Sub-boss floors will provide the big crystal right at the start of the floor, so you can clear out the floor before the sub-boss, use a big crystal on the floor previous to the sub-boss floor to swap in a character, then swap out that character once you progress to the sub-boss floor. I wasn't a big fan of using the Farmer, so I used this trick regularly to swap her out for a character I actually wanted to use.
To mix up the gameplay, Silent Hope will occasionally spawn you in an ambush floor, where you have no choice but to fight your way out of. There are also difficult areas of a dungeon marked by a glowing portal that will take you to an area with powerful or large amounts of enemies in exchange for a chest with good rewards inside. This is a cool little risk-reward system to test your abilities for better loot.
Silent Hope employs chibi-style characters and a colour scheme that reminds me of a fairytale. The models remind me of the older Rune Factory games if they upscaled the models for a real 3D environment. It's charming and gives the characters a unique look from a lot of other RPGs released in recent years. With the rise of more powerful systems, games that employ this kind of visual style are becoming scarce so it's refreshing to see a game like this again.
Silent Hope is a decent budget title that can scratch your itch for a quick action RPG. If Diablo IV's price is a bit too steep to pull the trigger on and you want a quick fix, Silent Hope will satisfy you. While Silent Hope's light story and simple gameplay may not be the most exciting, it's a charming game that can still hook you with its gameplay loop.