on 15 April 2008
It's clear that the creaters of Silverfall had the best of intentions. They have combined much of the tried and tested gameplay from classics such as Diablo and Dungeon Siege with a twist of their own fresh ideas, adding concepts such as nature vs technology and pro active death insurance to try and make this game their own.
I'm going to try and focus on the positive sides of this game at first; graphically it is not so bad, the characters appear as though out of a cartoon comic strip, and though not to everyone's taste, I found the models used to be quite fun! This goes for all the models, from the characters themselves, be it a cheeky goblin, or a hulking troll, to the weapons and armour, offering truely murderous looking crossbows through to a porcupine fish-on-a-stick.
Well that's the positive bit done, now down to the negative aspects of this game. For ease of reading, I'm going to have to break this down into sections.
Installation: OMG this takes an age and a half to install, and then, when you think it is finally over, you find out that the installation failed. I have a few PC's in my home, myself and my gf often play co-op network games together, which is the reason we purchased (two copies of) Silverfall in the first place. We have two identical PC's but funnily enough, after installing Silverfall I had different problems on each of them, neither of which would run the game. It was after some significant amount of troubleshooting, reinstalling, patching and file manipulation that I could get the game to run on both PCs. Fortunately for me, the bugs and errors others have had getting Silverfall to run are extensively documented and available online, so I had resources enough available to get the problem fixed.
Character selection: Other reviews have criticised that the character creation of Silverfall is limited, this is not true. I found that there are many different variations and combinations available, however during the character creation purpose, there seems to be no, or at least very little, relational structure between slider bars. This means that a troll missing an eye with silder bar A set to a certain position, will look completely different if you change silder bar C, this leads to frustration from the very start to those who like to have their character looking "just right".
The Interface: The UI used is inflexible, but I have played on worse, they tried hard with frilly borders etc, but I for one would have liked the freedom to move the various boxes around screen to match my clicking and cut down on mouse distance travelled. The Mini-map, the colour coded blips that represent NPCs, and the directional compass are all sub par, and make navigation difficult. NPCs such as vendors, quest givers and utilities a pain to find, and make it all to easy for you to accidently wander into a large group of hostiles.
Gameplay: The best that can be said for the gameplay is that it is simple and works (to a degree). It's pretty standard for a "left click to move and small attack, right click for a power attack" type setup, but for some reason Silverfall just isn't fluid. When you try to run away you can't help but select new hostiles who have a grossly oversized "click to select" box, making it impossible to escape. Things only get more complicated once you have picked up a companion, where after every second click seems to open a dialogue instead of move, this is symptomatic of the companion always being about one footstep behind your character.
Character progression: there are two sides to character progression to note. Firstly the skill trees, which despite being badly explained and confusing as to which skills are a right click attack and which are a left click attack, I quite liked to start off with. However, when reaching about the middle of the game I discovered the min max sytem behind it, and my character suddenly became almost invincible. I actually had to stop using a certain skill to give the monsters I was fighting a fair chance. At least Silverfall offers a method to recover skill points spent so you can respec yourself if you feel you made a mistake. It's an expensive process, but there is heck all else to do with the money you get (except for one payment needed to progress a quest) and paying for death insurance, which becomes moot once you have a few skills anyway.
Secondly, there is the case of armour and equipment progression. Now I will say that Silverthorne has some great looking gear, I especially liked the backpack line, where you can sport banners and other stat boosting trophies for that extra bit of individuality. My gripe with the equipment system is that there seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to what will constitute an upgrade. This means that you need to check every single piece of gear that drops just in case it might be an upgrade, and so much stuff drops that you spend more time picking up junk than you do actually killing the critters who drop it. At least raising gold never becomes an issue because of this, not that you have anything to spend the gold on.
The plot: To me, the definition of a good rpg is one with a good storyline that you can really get yourself immersed into. RPGs and lore go hand in hand, and always have since the good old days of pen and pencil D&D, I just wish someone had told the makers of Silverfall! The plot they came out with has the feeling of one of those stories teenagers write at sleepovers, where they write a few lines each, fold the paper over and hand it to the next person to write the next few lines. It's disjointed and inconsistant, not just in the lore, where some trolls are classic "thick as pig dung" trolls, and others are haughty nobles, but the main quest NPC seems to jump from a "he" to a "she" throughout the duration of the game. You would have thought the game designers might have realised different actors played the voiceovers for the same character part, but apparently not.
In conclusion, my experience of Silverfall is: 1 and a half days installation frustration, 10 minutes of being impressed, 2 hours of frustration, and about a day of just wanting it to be over.
After completing this game I am happy to say I have removed it from my PC completely and will never be reinstalling it.