Monday, January 18, 2010

Silent Conversation

Silent Conversation is an intriguing little flash game I was directed to by a friend. It's a remarkable fusion of classic literature and gaming. Unfortunately, some bad design choices prevent this game from being a perfect experience.

In Silent Conversation, each level is a different story or poem. You control a little cursor, and the words of the text light up as you move over them. At the end of a level, the game assigns you a score based on how many words you managed to highlight. You can later go back over the levels to try and get a perfect score or go through a time-trial mode, but the main appeal here are the aesthetics of the game.

Each level is, at its most basic, the text in front of a black background. However, the background changes in colour as you read on, with some objects described in the story appearing on occasion (for example, if the story describes a full moon, then some of the words describing the moon will appear above you as the moon). Similarly, the positioning of the text you need to highlight changes into formatting different from simply a flat line, which is a cool way of adding platforming elements into the game.

Herein lies the problem. Silent Conversation becomes a little too 'gamey' in places. Certain words in the text are 'powerful' words, and project their lettering in your general direction. Coming into contact with the lettering clears the screen of highlighted text, neccesitating going back over it again. Powerful words are always distracting and annoying, and occasionly appear within close proximity to each other in difficult areas to platform, leaving you with either the frustration of going over the same block of text again and again until you get it right or the frustration of having to move on, leaving areas incomplete.

Speaking of platforming, some of that is just plain impossible. At one point, I had to jump onto a row of five ellipses. I gave up on trying, as the directional controls were too sensitive, and any attempt I made to just scootch slightly over sent me toppling over the side, resetting me back to an earlier position and requiring me to go over the text on the screen yet again. What this game should be is a unique way to read literature, but these superfluous elements all but ruin the experience for me.

Regardless, give it a try. Your opinion, dear reader, may differ to mine, or you may be able to tolerate powerful words better than I could. Despite this game's failings, it shows a level of creativity and eagerness to try new ideas that we need in the gaming market now more than ever, and that kind of thing should definitely be encouraged.

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