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The Moment of Silence
Developer:House of Tales
Publisher:The Adventure Company
Platform:PC
Genre:Adventure
Release Date:2004
Article Posted:March 2006
Grade:93/100
System Requirements


Story:

This is a game about mystery, conspiracies and corruption. Ď1984í comes to life right in front of your eyes. Your thoughts imprinted in a journal, your strictly confidential conversations, and all the things that you may regard as personal data are no longer considered as such. Manuscripts are forbidden. All information should be available in the Global Network (todayís internet) in order for anyone to have access to it. You will be playing The Moment of Silence as Peter Wright. You will be helping your neighbor to find her husband, who has been kidnapped by the NYPD. As you proceed through the story, you will hear theories talking about aliens, talk to some obviously mad characters, and seek evidence on government conspiracies. Little by little, Big Brotherís conspiracy will be uncovered... Or is it all just a myth that captured your fantasy due to the circumstances? Whatever the truth is, one thing is for sure: MoS is not just another game in which your character is trying to save the world. It has gist and substance.

MoSís unreal story is characterized by a combination of todayís conditions with myths and possible futuristic scenarios. The developers managed to combine all these elements in a unique and exceptionally solid story that will strike you as incredibly realistic. The strong taste of realism is mostly due to the fact that everything has been based on todayís technology and actual events. The game might bring a smile to your face every time you recognize the source of inspiration behind a particular portion of the game. However, even those who will not connect the story elements to actual events will be fascinated by the gameís story.

There are many things Iíd like to add regarding this gameís story. That way you would be able to understand how many of its elements and ideas are based on real facts. Not to mention the fact that I could prove why this game surpasses by far many others with its mature and exceptional story. Unfortunately though, Iíd prefer to let you be excited while weaving possible scenarios as the story unfolds and be surprised with the unexpected vindication that awaits you at the end of the game. Words were never capable of describing the feelings you have while playing (or even watching) a story based on mystery and conspiracies. So Iím not going to ruin it for you by revealing anything else. Half the fun with this kind of story is trying to figure out whatís happening, why itís happening and whoís behind everything...

Puzzles:

MoSís puzzles donít lack imagination even though theyíre classical. Theyíre all logical and indissolubly connected to the story. For the most part, you have to solve the one puzzle before proceeding to the next. You also have to carefully examine screens for possible hot spots. The dialogues must be heard thoroughly, and Peterís messenger and PC must be used in several occasions since they are useful tools in solving the puzzles. These tools also help develop the story.

Mostly, MoSís puzzles consist of a combination of dialogue-based and inventory-based ones. Dialogue-based puzzles are quite interesting since the actual dialogues are very well-written. In these types of puzzles, you need to cover all possible dialogues with other characters in order to find out the information you need to proceed. Inventory-based puzzles are rather standard. You need to find items during your adventure and use them on the proper hotspot or give them to another character. The inventory-based puzzles will also occasionally require you to combine items. None of the puzzles are irrational, but you will have to be quite imaginative for some of them. During the majority of the game, the difficulty level is between easy and fair. However, two puzzles in particular demand a lot of thinking before you can solve them.

Players who despise action elements in adventure games will be pleased to hear that MoS features no action sequences. You cannot make any mistakes during the game that will cause your character to die either.

Graphics:

One of the gameís most appealing features is its graphics. The introduction video of MoS might make you think you are watching the beginning of a movie. The intriguing opening cinematics do an excellent job of pulling you effectively into the gameís world. MoS presents an astonishing world through its unreal and yet realistic sceneries. Realistic yes, but with futuristic elements since the story takes place in 2044. The apartments, the park, the office, the airport, SETI, Lunar 5 and all the other locations you are going to visit are proof of the hard work that has been put in this game. Detailed and colourful sceneries will make you feel as though you are really travelling to a strange yet familiar world.

All the 3D characters are rather convincing through their movement and expressions. Details like lip-synching or facial expressions are also remarkable for each interactive character. Unfortunately, the same level of detail wasnít given to the non-active characters. On one hand they always appear at the same spot (a day later and sheís still sitting in the airportís departure lounge?!) and on the other hand some of them arenít in realistic positions (they appear as though they are climbing down stairs, but they never move). This of course is a tiny detail compared to the overall graphic presentation of the game thatís unique in every other aspect.

The movie scenes are top notch. All the action sequences of the game take place during the cinematics: police Special Forces swoops, flying objects that scan Peterís face in the middle of the night, destructions, dental removals, and many more. The direction and image succession is really outstanding. The cinematics kick in at the most fitting moment to push your excitement to the next level, to make you laugh, and to climax your feelings in a masterful way that many famous movies would envy.

Music - Dialogues:

Excellent work has been done in this department as well. Unlike many games, in MoS you will never be tempted to lower the volume of the sound, to press the mute button, or to shut down your speakers. The acoustic pleasure that MoS offers sets a standard that other developers should strive to achieve. The atmospheric music changes depending on the place youíre visiting and generates strong feelings on its own. MoSís voice acting is also of great quality.

The dialogues are indeed one of the main highlights of this game. The lengthy dialogue sequences are reminiscent of The Longest Journey. Through the various conversations, you will come to hear the background stories of important characters, discover information that you need in solving several puzzles, learn to cope with the reality of 2044, and get to know your character Peter. The dialogues combine true events with myths and hypothetical future scenarios (Echelon project, SETI, Orwellís Ď1984í, worldwide alien conspiracy, political corruption, matrix theory, etc) in order to create a seductive and addictive story. Finally, to my delight, the subtitles are also excellent.

The dialogue trees are rather practical and user-friendly. Thereís no right or wrong sequence of asking the questions youíre given within your dialogue tree. When you ask a given question and receive all the possible answers on it, the text changes color to indicate that the person you are talking to can offer no new information on the indicated topic. However, the question still remains available on your dialogue tree. This makes for a crystal clear dialogue tree, where you know which things are yet to be asked. You are also given the opportunity to listen to any of the conversation threads again. Another great detail is the possibility of escaping the dialogues in case you donít actually want to hear them again and chose the question by mistake. But please donít think that a game with so many dialogues will be boring. MoSís quantity of dialogues is one of its pros. They are so good that it would be a pity if there were fewer of them.

Technical Problems - Bugs:

I must admit that MoS is not a perfect game. And Iím really sorry that I have to say this because I think it could have been much better if some technical problems had been solved before the gameís release. First of all, Peterís movement is rather awkward. Regardless of the spot he is standing on the screen, when you press on a hot spot he will always follow the same path to get there. So, you often watch Peter go back to the spot where the animation starts and then go where you wanted him to in the first place. You will end up watching Peter go back and forth across rooms many times. Furthermore, he sometimes walks through trees, on walls, or even completely disappears off your screen while walking on a side wall! Another frustrating surprise that is in store for you is the fact that some exit points arenít always obvious and demand of you to move Peter to a specific spot in order to become apparent. I should, however, mention that House of Tales made sure that this wouldnít be a serious problem by adding a button that marks all possible exit points of a screen.

Some have encountered more severe problems, like disappearance of the cursor and system crashes. Even though you can have an immediate solution to those problems on the official Web site of the game, they are still problems that should have been avoided in an otherwise great game. Finally, I feel the need to point out that you must install the patch of the game in order to be able to complete it. Thereís a puzzle that cannot be solved without the patch, since the information you are given on that puzzle is mistaken.

Conclusion:

With its cinematographic flow, MoS takes you to a possible future reality in a realistic and above all imposing way. Having played this game you will think twice before mentioning Bin Ladenís name on your cell or in an e-mail. Donít forget that the future has already begun...

Itís an impressive game that will nail you down for approximately 25 hours (a lot more than most recent adventure games will do). It may suffer from some technical problems, but I honestly think that the gameís great features far outweigh the technical problems. MoS brings intrigue, conspiracies, challenges, worries, and above all entertainment through a feast of colors and sounds. I truly believe itís one of the best adventure games that was released during the past few years and should be a role model to future projects.

The final grade is 93/100.

The original Greek version of this article can be found at Adventure Advocate.

            


PC System Requirements:
Windowsģ XP/2000/Me/98
Intel Pentiumģ II 450 or equivalent
64 MB RAM
32MB 3D graphics card
DirectXģ 9
DirectXģ 9 compatible sound card
2x speed DVD ROM drive