reviews\ Mar 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Silverfall - PC - Review

Outcasts … refugees … struggling to find a safe haven and answers to what unleashed the evil and what happened to the lone archmage that stayed behind to protect the path of those who fled.

Silverfall, which generally falls into the hack ‘n slash genre, has some unique elements tossed into the quest-driven story. The game pits nature against technology, as well as throwing in the stock good-versus-evil element.

Monte Cristo Games is behind Silverfall which is published by Atari. The game can be likened to titles like Diablo II in that it is a rich hack ‘n slash, full of monsters, drops, quests and diverse environments. But the game takes a departure in the way that the skill progression is handled.

Because there is both nature and technology, players can choose the path they wish to pursue, or create a hybrid of the two. Remember games like Asheron’s Call, the massively multiplayer online title, wherein players could allocate points and skills toward a profession build that was uniquely their own? Well, Silverfall has that.

Silverfall Screenshot

As you level up, you will be able to allocate skill points and attribute points to build a character that can use ranged, melee or magic attacks.

It should be noted that the game is not without some pitfalls. There is a pathing problem that might have your character hung up on a piece of the environment until you find the right way out. The game has been patched, but this was digitally delivered and installed from the folder the client downloaded to. When attempts were made to install the patch and the editor patch, both of the patches returned a reply that they were not able to patch the game because it was not installed on the host system.

But back to the game and the skill system …

The skills are divided into a couple of groups, though there are three icons; there is ranged, melee and magic. The magic is divided into elemental and shadow. As you level, you can move attribute points around and specialize in certain skills. How you invest your points is paramount to your success in this game – which is dependent on the type of character you are playing.

Silverfall Screenshot

The game has the usual assortment of races (four total) that seem to pop up in most fantasy titles. There is not a lot of initial customization that you can do (slider bars have finite movement and not a bunch of options on each bar), but the meat of the game begins after the main city of Silverfall is overrun by demons, and what is left of the population is forced to flee. As a member of the refugee party, your job is to become the champion that solves the downfall of the city and corrects the imbalance.

It sounds easy, but while Silverfall does weave a bit of a tale, the focus of the game appears to be on building up skills and taking on the various undead and evil minions that have been unleashed. Killing monsters will acquire loot … well, this part is relatively standard to fantasy hack ‘n slash titles.

Graphically the game does a fine job. You can move the camera around and zoom in for a close-up of the cel-shaded graphics. The game will require a PhysX card to pull the top-drawer graphics from the game. The machine used to test this game has a top-of-the-line graphics card and chipset, but no accelerator card. The game asked for the PhysX card, but installed without it and ran just fine. The graphics are cel-shaded, which immediately takes the game beyond the realm of realism and plunks it firmly into the realm of the fantastic. While, at first blush, this might seem a tad different, the graphics are really quite charming. This is definitely a look that departs from the norm in the genre.

There are some gameplay elements, though, that are a bit frustrating. The first is the pathing problem. This is a point-and-click heavy game, so it is easy to get hung up on environmental elements and then you have to go through the process of rotating the camera to find the way out. The game also requires you to click on the enemy you wish to attack. The target zone is quite liberal, but still you can miss.

Silverfall Screenshot

Then there is the death penalty. This is a very old design element that is as flawed now as it was then. The game won’t take away your experience points for dying, but you drop everything that is on you. When you die, a grave marker pops up at the spot, and your character will respawn back in the encampment dressed down to his or her skivvies without weapons, unless you have an extra set in your inventory. In order to reclaim your dropped elements, you have to go back to the spot where you died and click on the grave marker. But this puts the dropped items into your inventory; it does not auto-equip them.

Now, before the more hardcore players write in to discuss how wonderful and challenging that is, let’s head that effort off with this – if you died it was likely because you ran into mobs that were very tough. What makes a development team think that going back into that area without armor will be better? It’s a suicide run, and not conducive to pulling less experience players into the fray. Some of us might enjoy the challenge, but for those new to the genre, this can be a source of frustration, and is archaic game design.

The game does allow, early on, players to run a mission for a camp NPC that will open up the ability to insure your items and have them returned to you if you die.

The soundtrack of the game is a solid support for the graphics. The game does have some moments of voice acting, but generally the game is text driven with typical battle sounds.

The game does have some stumbles but is generally an entertaining game that, while story driven, does have a certain amount of charm as well as a decent story. The fact that the character design is so open-ended makes the game very customizable as far as the experience is concerned. While not a top-tier game, the title still manages to make for an enjoyable experience.

Review Scoring Details for Silverfall

Gameplay: 7.0
Pathing problems and the old-fashioned point-and-click interface do not do this game any favors. Couple that with the archaic death penalty (and subsequent corpse run) and you have a game that is not that casual-gamer friendly. Silverfall does have a nice wide-open character customization and enjoyable story, and you have a bit of a mixed bag here.

Graphics: 7.5
The cel-shaded graphics are rich and lush and bring a nice overall presentation to the table.

Sound: 6.5
Merely average.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
This is a challenging game as you progress, and not a game that is overly friendly for casual or first-time gamers that have little idea what they want to do. Fortunately, there are NPCs that will allow you to reset your skills should you decide your build is not that great.

Concept: 7.5
Some old-school concepts

Multiplayer: 7.5
The game has multiplayer content in connecting to the Internet and joining rooms is not that hard. Each room will show the difficulty setting and level of players (up to the level cap of 80). Like other dungeon crawl RPGs, these can take place in the game world that supports the solo player. However the game also has the ability to enter an editor mode and mod levels for playing and sharing.

Overall: 7.3
Silverfall has a few problems but has a nice backdrop of multiplayer options, including mods, and has a nice look.


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