Children of Silentown

I’ve never been big on point-and-click adventure puzzle games, mostly because I struggle with puzzle-solving occasionally. But Children of Silentown caught my eye with its gloomy and gorgeous art direction. So I decided to give it a shot (thanks to a review code from publisher Daedalic Entertainment).

See, Children of Silentown (developed by Elf Games and Luna2 studio) came out way back in 2020 on Mac and Windows, but it recently got ported to the Nintendo Switch. This is my first time experiencing the game, so I don’t have any input about how the different version run comparatively. But I can tell you how I feel about Children of Silentown after completing my first playthrough.

The game features a stunning hand-drawn look, overflowing with style and atmosphere. In every area you come across, there will be something that attracts your attention based on how beautiful each set piece is. From the character design to the town itself, whether you’re exploring the forest or the protagonist’s nightmares, everything around you gives a sense of unease. Something is happening, but you aren’t sure what.

You play as Lucy, a big-brained twelve-year-old girl, as she attempts to discover the mystery behind the continual and sudden disappearance of townsfolk into the forest, never to be seen again. The roars of monsters shatter the night sky, giving her nightmares about what these creatures are and what their motives might be.

Children of Silentown

Gameplay is straightforward: You’ll talk to people, find items, use those items to solve puzzles, and discover the truth about the missing people. As with other point-and-click adventures, you will spend the majority of your time running from area to area talking to everyone and interacting with every prompt you can find.

There were several times I got stuck for long periods of time because I wasn’t aware that I needed to talk to the same person twice, or because a necessary item made no sense to me. For example, at one point I got stuck for over an hour because I was supposed to use a hammer on the lock of rabbit cages, setting them free to distract a farmer. I have no idea how I was supposed to know to do that.

One other important element here is singing.

Lucy’s mother, Eloise, was once taught by the town’s crazy old lady how to sing. Eloise, now a mother, plays the lyre and teaches Lucy how to sing as well. As you explore the world you uncover “Notes” to these songs. There are four songs total, each requiring you to find the three notes to sing it. Think of the songs as spells in a way. The first song you learn is “The Children’s Song.” Using this song on other people works like a mind-reading spell, where you can see that person’s current thoughts. Occasionally people will have torn or damaged thoughts that you have to repair, which will allow them to remember something important to Lucy. This is done via puzzles.

Children of Silentown

The first type of puzzle requires you to sew buttons, and it isn’t terribly difficult to get used to. The second type of puzzle requires you to get water to flow from point A to point C without going through point B, by placing gears and turning tiles. This puzzle type was the most difficult for me to get used to, and it became more of an annoyance than an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Honestly, I looked up a couple answers. The third type of puzzle requires you to light up all the tiles on a board without over-exposing certain ones; I thought this was probably the easiest of the puzzle types.

Unfortunately, there’s no hint option, but I did notice that if you at least make an attempt on some of the puzzles, it will count as a successful completion, even if you don’t finish it.

There are several moments — mostly during the nightmares — where the game takes a sudden hard turn into horror, and this is where the art truly shines. That level of unease and discomfort comes full force as the hand-drawn dream creatures torture Lucy each night. The children are told that as long as they behave, the monsters wont bother them.

Children of Silentown

Along the way, Lucy becomes more wary of the adults around her, angry that they won’t look for the missing people, and even angrier that they won’t explain anything about what is happening. This gives off the feeling that the adults are far more aware of what these monsters are than what they’d like to admit, which reminds me a bit of the M. Night Shyamalan film The Village.

Children of Silentown isn’t super long; I finished my first playthrough in about a day, and there are four endings depending on the song you sing at the end. I’d say most of that time was me struggling to figure out what item or song to use where. Once I completed it, though, I have to admit that the game is satisfying to complete. I do wish there were true save states where I could go back to the end and see a different ending without needing to play the entire story over again.

Children of Silentown

In the end, I’m happy I had the chance to play Children of Silentown. It features a gorgeous world with unique and intriguing characters, and a compelling narrative that makes want to find out what’s happening. The art design to me is the true selling point, as the game mechanics aren’t generally what I would normally search out, but if you want a beautifully dark and tragic world to explore, I highly recommend this.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for Children of Silentown on Nintendo Switch, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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