Exploration titles have been releasing off and on for the past couple of years and many tend to devolve into story-driven walking simulators with a bit of object interaction. I was getting a very similar vibe when I played through Apeirogon Games’ latest title, Silhouette, currently out on the Early Access program. Utilizing the Unreal 4 engine, this project is being spearheaded by a single developer. The current build offers a very small snippet of the planned 6-8 hour adventure, but it is enough to establish the main character and introduce the player to the dilemma he will be facing.
Author: The Mute Cynic
Steam: Early Access
Developer: Apeirogon Games
Publisher: Apeirogon Games
Genre: First-person Story Driven Detective Adventure
Release Date: TBA
Jim Grayson, a tired homicide detective, is called in to investigate a recent murder at an apartment complex. Assumed to be a simple case of neglect, Jim decides to look around the apartment for clues before heading off to the coroner’s office for further information regarding the victim. The coroner manages to give Jim a lead that points to a Texago outside of town, but no one appears to be around. Circumstances become more vague as a closer inspection of the station reveals a piece of evidence that would lead Jim to realize the magnitude of the situation. This is not a random murder and is possibly the work of a serial killer leading the detective down a gruesome rabbit hole.
The majority of the world is black and white with characters and special items (signs, police lights, evidence) presented in color. It is an interesting aesthetic choice that reflects the way evidence in general is perceived until context can identify its’ connection to a crime. I was rather underwhelmed by the music selection, but it might be due to the volume mixing making it rather difficult to listen too. Voice work is surprisingly decent and helps carry certain points of the game lacking background music. The little bit of music I could hear was alright, but the game is mostly filled with audio assets such as crow caws and the thunk of dropped books. It has a noir visual look as intended, but I do hope they decide to give their character models some pupils.
Game-play is made up of walking around and examining items in search of clues or leads. All potential clues (except for a few in mission two) are exposed by picking up items and seeing if they reveal their true color. If an item is not important to the investigation, it will turn black and remain select-able once it is dropped. Items can be hidden underneath boxes, inside drawers or visible in plain sight. It boils down to the bare-bones equivalent of a point and click adventure game with some dialog choices select-able during a conversation with the coroner.
Options are extremely limited in this title, offering a list of preset resolutions limited to 720p, 768p and 1080p. The game can be played with mouse and keyboard or handled with a controller. None of the controls can be rebound, but this isn’t as much of an issue given the simplistic nature of the game. One issue I did notice was frequent screen tearing while walking. Audio also overlaps if something is picked up while dialog is spoken and it can get annoying when mixed with the limited responses. Drawers also have a bad habit of closing on items, causing the item inside to sound as if it is continuously hitting the floor. The developer stated in a recent update that they are hoping to fix these sound issues.
Silhouette has a interesting aesthetic and employs a very underused genre in the form of noir. While it suffers from some annoying audio and visual issues, the story is at least interesting enough to grasp the curious and deliver a sneak peak into what could be. The current build is $5 and for something that I managed to complete in 30 minutes, it is a hard sell. It is a decent introduction with the full first chapter expected to be completed (first two hours) in Q2 2017.