Silence of the Sleep is centred around Jacob Reeves, a man with no desire to live. He voluntarily plummet into the darkness, hoping that doing so will end his existence, but instead it casts him into a fate worse than death. When he awaken in the bowels of a dilapidated hotel without any memories of his past. The player is unaware of where they are, how they arrived at this place or, more importantly, how to escape. There is no indication whether this world is real or some nightmarish conjuration from Reeves’ imagination. It quickly transpires that any hope of leaving lies with solving “the riddle”.
As you soon learn from the other lost souls who have flocked to this madhouse, the burden of trying to solve this riddle becomes too much to bear and you’d be far better off accepting your place here. This is Silence of the Sleep, a psychological horror-adventure game hybrid created by Jesse Makkonen.
Silence of the Sleep unravels at a creeping, plodding pace, allowing its deeply unhinged world to coil around the player and then tighten its grip. The game’s presentation is one of the largest feathers in its cap thanks to a striking art direction which seems to blend the best of Limbo, Lone Survivor and Bioshock. Characters are simple silhouettes, with key figures highlighted through smart visual cues.
The game’s soundtrack is haunting, understated, yet present enough to evoke despair and isolation. One design choice that really pays off in spades is the decision to not include voice acting. All dialogue is delivered through text boxes, eliminating all possible barriers between the player and the eerie stillness of the game’s atmosphere.
The game plays out on a side scrolling plane. You can move forward and back, and pivot left and right to interact with objects not directly in front of you. Though the story is pretty linear and methodical in how it progresses, you’ll find yourself backtracking across multiple rooms Metroid-style in order to activate the next plot point. The game is simple in its interaction, with movement keys and a single interaction key. Objects, the environment and the people that populate this dark world are all accessed through a single button push. This offers a simplicity that allows the story and lore of the game to be passed acrossed easily.This one button system actually pays compliment to the game’s approachable mechanics which can be picked up, understood and enjoyed by all.
There’s no combat, just point-and-click puzzle solving. Silence of the Sleep adheres to that classic adventure game adage of clicking on literally everything just to make something happen, but the game streamlines matters to make it less of a headache. You’re given a handful of rooms to explore and a handful of characters to interrogate in any given portion of the game, and the linear fashion with which it unfolds means that, while the puzzles are challenging, you’ll seldom be stumped as to where you are supposed to go next.
Silence of the Sleep is a truly remarkable game, and the fact that it was all made by one developer lends even more magnitude to it’s achievement.The only negative aspect of Silence of the Sleep is the save system. It utilises a save point system in which any failure or death results in a reset to the previous point. While many horror and puzzle games utilise this feature, the save points feel too spaced out. Instead of the tension involved with encounters and a possible failure, there is sometimes an feeling of exhaustion as the player is required to play through a massive chunk of the game again simply because of the distance between save points. Other than this, Silence of the Sleep is intimidating and engrossing in equal measure and required playing for fans of the unique and unusual.