The Silver Lining Episodes 2 and 3 PC Review

Gaming

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Released: 17/March, 2011
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Purchased from: Official site (free).

Overview:

The Silver Lining is a Point-and-Click adventure game from Phoenix Online, originally intended as a fan-sequel to Kings Quest, it was allowed to be sold as a stand-alone episodic title by the license holder; Activision and continues the story of King Graham who must collect specific items in order to awaken his daughter and son from a deadly curse which has left them in an endless slumber.

Story:

The story follows the King/Lord dude, Graham, who must find a cure for the terrible curse which has been bestowed upon his children by a maleficent evil. His quest leads him to a druid who provides him with a list of ingredients that he must obtain in order to create an anti-curse or something to re-awaken them. I don’t know, I never played the original – but one of our other editors did and here’s the review –  The Review for Episode 1.

In episodes one and two, Graham begins his quest to complete the requirements of the scroll / continues the quest of the scroll in order to reawaken his children. Along the way he encounters many interesting characters, puzzles, traps and dangers that impede / help him along in his quest.

The Second episode picks up just after he meets the druid dude and gets the scroll of awesome from him that enables him to magically see whatever it is that he needs to find or talk to over the journey. Using the scroll, he heads out and goes to a bunch of fantastical places that may or may not involve all kinds of weirdness, like objects being alive, or dog-headed guards. His boat takes him across the sea, to search far and wide for these magical ingredients he so sorely needs.

In Episode 3 Graham continues his quest to find the magical stuff to produce the anti-curse to reawaken his kids. This time however, his wife person is also in a coma, dreaming about her past experiences in this tower thing that she was captured and put in while she was young or something. It wasn’t too clear about what was happening. In this episode, he also quests around the world doing much of the same thing he did in episode 2 visiting more fantastical things like he did in episode 2.

Gameplay:

The gameplay behind The Silver Lining episodes 2 and 3 is your standard point and click fare. See somewhere you want to go, click there and Graham will move in to that spot. What I loved about the movement in episode 2 and 3 is that if the distance was great or you double click, Graham will run, making distance shorter and thereby superior to some adventure games.

Considering it’s a point-and-click adventure, many of the puzzles are also of the type that require you to use a specific item on a specific character or location. Though, sometimes, these puzzles are absolutely rediculously hard to figure out. Like, for what reason would you have to use a faux-hand on a spider for? Why do I need to choose the money in my inventory and then click on this NPC who just told me that he would sell me something? Why not give me an option to do this in the chat options?

The game is also one of those games that require you to collect every item you go past, just in-case you need it for later. Like for instance there is this kid with a fishing rod early on in Episode 2 and he requires you to give him a specific item to get the rod from him, why not just use your status as the KING to get the fishing rod? It boggles the mind. An extension on this is a puzzle that requires you to use the fishing rod and another item that you could have easily have missed and use it on these seer mermaid lady things. Whats strange though is that if you go through the entire sequence, logically, you should not have required this other item anyway. I mean, why go through all the trouble to get back the original item you gave them when the item you give them the second time is one you start off with and have a near endless supply of? Also, these same mermaids know everything apparently, why couldn’t they tell you where to go instead of following breadcrumbs the entire game (metaphorical breadcrumbs)? One other thing with the puzzles, some of them kill you the first time that you do something wrong to them. I hope you like dying, because I don’t. Why couldn’t they have Graham flinch the first time then kill him the second? Like these vine things with a key behind them, I see what to do, but and item that I could *logically* use would either fail, or not be compatible. Ugh.

screenshot-005

They know *everything*; just not when you need them to.

Anyway, these puzzles are are more fun then I make them sound and the dialogue in these sequences can be sometimes funny, though I’m not too sure if they were meant to be. Though, if you look at the world, like an Island of In-animate objects which are fully animate, a castle full of guards with the faces of dogs; you can probably say that they were intended to be. Oh yeah and that spider that I mentioned up there, she has a very sexy voice. Maybe a little *too* sexy.

This game does have some faults though, namely in the camera. Some areas have multiple sections to them which require you to walk to the edge of the screen by clicking. This will prompt the games camera to turn to show the next part of the area and this can sometimes cause Graham to walk back and forth between areas making it rather difficult to advance. I found that stopping usually helps with this, as does random luck. The game also stops you from going where it doesn’t want you to by blocking that section off, like that fallen tree in Episode 2 and the various castle rooms in both episodes.

The inventory system can be accessed by moving your mouse to the top of the screen, which also allows you to select additional actions. Your standard actions are selectable through the right click button, which at a click cycles through actions until you find the one you want. It’s an intuitive system, if you select an item it will become the default action of the mouse, but it can feel logically useless at time, like at the reason I gave above.

The Silver Lining has many bugs in it, both as characters and as gameplay glitches. When I first booted up episode 2 and went to start the game; I watched the somewhat interesting cutscene about druids and curses and stuff and was greeted to a tutorial on the magical list that Graham is given by the Druid. This tutorial occurs out at sea and as I found, can play up. I used the observe function of the mouse on the scroll to learn about it and then clicked off somewhere. Instead of the ‘Exit’ cursor showing up around the sides of the map like it was supposed to it had the walking symbol and wouldn’t let me click off. After spending 30mins trying everything I could think of, I saved and reloaded. Big Mistake. I found my boat sitting under the water with no scroll or no ability to do anything. I had to restart. Unfortunately, I was too exasperated to think to take a screenshot and any attempts to replicate it have failed. One time thing maybe?

Another bug that I found was that if you play on fullscreen and alt+tab while looking at the scroll then clicking back into the game would cause it to become distorted and unreadable. Even exiting the scroll and re-entering it does nothing to fix the problem. I have no idea what causes it to do this, but I don’t think it is expected behaviour. I’d recommend playing this game in Windowed mode if you’re busy and have to keep switching your focus.

Sound:

The sound is this game is pretty good, though it can become slightly repetitive. Like for instance, you’re likely to spend a fair bit of time in each area and hearing each theme on a constant loop can be quite annoying. Especially if you’re like most gamers and are pumped up on caffeine. Luckily, if you do find it annoying, you can turn it off by turning the music volume down to 0 in the options menu.

Each area has its own theme, some of which are quite enjoyable, while others are repetitive and long. An example of this would be the Shopping district thing just outside of the castle in both episodes. You do spend a fair bit of time in this area and after the 3rd or fourth time the piece has played through, you’ve either become accustomed to it, or you’ve become so enraged that you alt+tab out and switch Windows Media Player on, wrecking the readability of your scroll.

Even though the music can be repetitive, some areas actually don’t have it all and feature some pretty ambiance, which is great. The ambiance usually fits quite well, and can be quite relaxing, giving your mind room to be free to think of any solutions to weird or impossible puzzles that may arise.

screenshot-003

The castle, source of many camera problems, one of the more decent musical areas of the game.

Not only is there music and ambiance, but also voice acting. In this game the voice acting ranges from excellent to horrible. I know that reading online about this game will yield a mixed reaction on the narrator character, namely a mixed reaction on how horrible she is, but I actually find her quite likeable and she actually has a very nice voice. I know that one of her lines is ‘If it makes you feel any better, I’d have tried that, too.’ While it’s comforting the first few times, it does become an annoyance after the 50th failed attempt on something. Though, it’s not her only failure line, its the one that makes me feel the least bitter about being unable to work out the puzzle.

The quality of voice-acting does vary between characters, with some characters being better acted than others. This sadly brings the game down a notch due to the inconsistency in acting. I feel as though the game would have benefited from either a re-recording for some lines, or a switch to text-based banter for some of the lesser characters. Except for the black-widow from Episode 2, can we keep her?

Graphics:

Graphically The Silver Lining is inferior to most games that have been released this era. It more closely resembles a Playstation 2 game than it does a modern PC game, but that isn’t to the games detriment. By having a less detailed look; the designers were able to craft a more creative and fantastical world and be able to convey it more accurately.

Each character seems to be given the same level of detail, with the exception Grahams daughter’s boyfriend/partner. I swear there is something wrong with that guys neck, its like no chest – just neck. Graham who is sporting a similar unbuttoned shirt look has no problems with all neckedness, so I don’t know why this guy should have it. Though he is explained to be half-fairy or full-fairy or something, so maybe that’s got something to do with it?

screenshot-004

The Neck! Look at it!

The environments are cartoony and some regions look like they belong in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, though as a whole, they’re mostly large empty spaces with not much filling them. Some parts are just a field, a thing you interact with then a walkway to another section. But also, the castle looks like a castle on the interior, so that’s a plus.

Given the basic graphics of the game, you’d expect items to have a more basic appearance. Not so, everything looks as though you’d expect it to… with the exception of some items which have fantastical elements. So they kind of don’t look like anything based in reality, so they look as they do.

Conclusion:

The Sliver Lining episodes 2 and 3 are fun point-and-click adventures that everyone should at the least give a go. The puzzles can range from easy to use everything on this one thing and hope it works. The music is good the first few times you hear it but can quickly become repetitive and boring, while the voice work ranges from weak to really awesome. Can I get an Audiograph from the lady who does the narrators voice?

I Give This Game: 5 out of 10 Capsules.

5-0-capsules-out-of-10

Gaming for as long as my memory serves me, probably longer.
  • v8hilux

    missed the good old point n clickers (broken sword/beneath the steel sky) the screen shots don’t look like my kinda thing, not surprised it only got 5/10, bring back broken sword or a neeww steel sky!!! that would be awesome

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