Search for the missing inhabitants of Silentville after a strange storm makes them vanish
A common theme for hidden object games is the search for missing people. At this point, having looked for countless villagers, patients, kids, parents, damsels in distress and significant others, I was hoping upon firing up 1 Moment of Time: Silentville for a new spin on the “missing persons” idea. Alas, while Silentville does offer an interesting approach to cinematics and a few interesting puzzles, in the end it fails to bring much new to an overused story concept.
The game starts fairytale-like, with a narrator explaining how the quaint village of Silentville—once an idyllic, happy place—was beset by an inexplicable storm. And how after the storm, its inhabitants vanished one by one. You arrive soon after the storm and set to work searching the abandoned town for clues to the villagers’ disappearance. Soon enough you realize that rather than vanishing, the villagers have instead been trapped in specific locations where they’re forced to continually relive a single moment in time. Despite their atemporal state, you can speak to these people and gather their impressions of what happened the day of the storm. While you’d expect these anecdotal fragments to blend smoothly together to form a single flavorful narrative, what they actually do is congeal into something more like a series of unappetizing lumps.
The story is mostly nonsensical and vague, with people in a tiny village referring to one another in oddly generic terms such as “the mine owner” and “the rich man on the hill.” This lack of specificity runs throughout the story, making it feel lazily conceived and worse, providing little in the way of logical motivation for doing anything. The effect of this is that roughly half way through, I found myself not caring to figure anything out on my own and instead using the hint button to teleport as fast as possible to my next nonsensical objective. Of course, even this strategy wasn’t foolproof since the hint button let me down on several occasions, repeatedly highlighting something I didn’t have the tools to complete.
Because of these things, 1 Moment of Time: Silentville feels sloppily made; add to that the consistent crash I experienced (until I downloaded a patch), the clumsy English translation (for instance, tutorial text that read, “objects hidden beside doors”; also a baffling hidden object scene that referred to a hand drill as a “wimble”), hard-to-read font in the hidden object lists, scenes that are only narrowly interactive, and some clunky puzzle controls and you have a game that really could have used another month or so of work before being released.
Although these things undermine the game and prevent it from being more than fair-to-middling, there are a few things it does well. The villager interviews are handled through beautiful hand-drawn sketches and because of this, the sequences build on the game’s fairytale foundation and provide some much-needed individuality to the game’s graphics. Supporting this, the game’s narrator and voice acting are pretty good, and the music is pleasantly quirky. Gameplay-wise, on occasion, there are some interesting puzzles (several plant-related ones in particular) and it’s obvious some real effort was made to make the hidden object scenes more interesting by making them not just about finding single items, but about matching items and using them together.
Despite this, 1 Moment of Time: Silentville sells itself short. By failing to provide a hero for us to identify with, or motivation to complete its tasks, it prevents us from caring about what happens and quickly becomes tedious. Further, it tells a disjointed story, gives us useless hints and subjects us to largely lackluster puzzles. Although its sketchy cinematics are cool, and both the hidden object scenes and some puzzles are interesting, they’re just not enough to carry the game and ultimately, leave us feeling that this is one moment of time that’s been seriously misspent.