Silence of the Sleep takes players into the burdensome life of Jacob Reeves, a man who can no longer live with his actions. To end it all, he climbs the nearest cliff, and jumps, wishing to forget it all… But in the end, after all the darkness succumbs him, he opens his eyes, not to find death, but something worse...
Developed and published in 2014 by Jesse Makkonen, a one-man studio, Silence of the Sleep is a psychological horror adventure, with visceral puzzles and twisted outcomes. If triple A games avoid horror, indie developers embrace it, and in this case, with the right efforts in mind.
Jacob wakes up in a strange place, with total loss of his memory and no recollection of any of his life events, he wanders in what seems to be a hotel, among closed doors and empty corridors. After randomly roaming this grim location, he finds a bar, where he meets one of many characters to come, the bartender. This mysterious character serves as a purpose till the end of this nightmare-is journey, as well as any other NPC. Jacob must walk through darkness itself to unveil the biggest mystery of his life, but many dangers await him, in which some will scare him, and others will try to destroy him. Can Jacob reach the truth behind walls that bleed? Dreams that haunt him, or is this purely a dream, portraying the most terrifying scenarios hidden in his subconscious?
Silence of the Sleep plays out almost like a Point & Click game, if not by its immersive controls and functionalities. Player control Jacob, the main protagonist in a 2D perspective, choosing left or right using A and D. E is the key for Action, and sprint with Shift. Controller support would suit this game perfectly, since it tries to deliver an honest emotional horror experience, and less a pragmatic one. This affects player movement, avoiding a fluid behavior and a more slower and realistic one.
Despite the game’s fantastic atmosphere, there are real dangers that can define a Game Over, and running away aren’t always the best option. Sometimes one must be prepared, and in those situations, the game uses the ability to peek or listen behind doors, or any sort of entrance, before advancing. Jacob will describe what he sees or hears, by choosing the Right Mouse Button. Left Mouse option is reserved for the flashlight, which is reasonably well implanted, and very much needed in those dark areas.
In his path across the different five chapters, Jacob will come across different areas, and in some, monsters lurk waiting to mutilate him. The shadow-like creatures move from point A to point B, always with the same routine. Players can avoid them by hiding behind specific boxes, and going in cover mode. Some covers won’t avoid monsters from reaching you, therefore a mini-game of holding your breath will take place, where the objective is to keep your mouse cursor inside a box that moves up and down.
Exploring the strange locations of Silence of the Sleep is one of the best things one can do while playing, and the monsters sure don’t make it an easy task. They can make your journey quite frustrating, even wishing they weren’t present. Surely players can hide in pipes, safe rooms, or simply running back. However, the completion of specific puzzles may require some major walking across the same areas, and even completing particular objectives between a monster presence. This clearly is deliberate to create thrilling moments and tension among players! The real frustration may come from the archaic controls, that would serve much better as a traditional Point & Click game, with more puzzles, and less monsters.
Now that puzzles were mentioned, I must say this game does them almost perfectly, over exaggerating in one in particular, where the player needs to create combinations from a master key, out of a bunch of possibilities, and while trying to confirm this possiblities, a monster will most likely devour Jacob after awhile. Every other puzzle was interesting, and they mostly result in finding objects, discover secret combinations and search every place meticulously! Other puzzles are present, but they represent small interactions, such as finding an object in a pool filled with blood, in which playing special attention to hall Jacob's senses may help.
Silence of the Sleep is in his majority a psychological horror game, although all the tension explicitly described above is real, sceneries depict a very different game. It’s impossible not to think of Silent Hill when we first laid eyes on the visuals for this game, the changing buildings in a morbid state, the baby screams turning into agony, Jacob’s emotions portraying his despairs in horrific elements, it all combines into that visual representation we came to associate Silent Hill with. However, Silence of the Sleep has its own story and describes it perfectly well through its narrative. It may take inspiration, but surely delivers a unique experience and solid feelings of uneasiness and a couple of jump scares with its own personal story and narrative.
Digitally hand drawn from scratch, Silence of the Sleep is presented with an aesthetic concept through a realistic approach for characters and backgrounds. Jacob for instance, as well as any NPC, is entirely black figures, with small exceptions that characterize them, like hair or a specific cloth that show colors. They are still perfectly detailed, and the effects of cloths and objects is very well done, and blinds amazingly with the backgrounds. Some areas describe destroyed areas of emotional torment, as others are just pure anguish decaying rooms, but that’s not all Jacob is going to face deep down… His mind will take him to a mysterious hotel where no one leaves, but no one dares enter… They all sing and dance all day! If that’s not all, Jacob will face yet an even bigger challenge, such as the enigmatic psychiatric in a remote place, where every day one gets a very special cocktail of pills. Locations arise and erupt, but Jacob persists, the only question is; Can his mind handle it?
In technical terms, manual save games are not available, and they could be handy, but the option here is to save at the gramophone, and if anything, it’s part of the old-school horror atmosphere, like we had in early Resident Evil games. The only real issue is no doubt the usage of only one slot to save the game. Would have come in hand to choose different saving slots, especially since players can and mostly will backtrack, particularly in Chapter 4.
Resolution is locked at 1280x720 and Fullscreen expands the game to your desirable resolutions. Upscaling doesn’t affect it considerably, but may affect if one uses resolutions up to 4K.
If there is one specific thing horror games need, is a solid story. Silence of the Sleep delivers exactly that, and emotionally driven story through horror elements, and occasional psychological events that are bizarre and unexpected. The narrative is fantastic, and dialogues with other characters are available through a simple chat box. It’s a shame we can’t enjoy voice-acting, but in the end, it makes things even more interesting. The story is driven by chapters where one learns more about Jacob, as he learns about himself as well. His disgrace won’t be finished until the final chapter finally lays down all the answers, and every or mostly, all abstract pieces of dialogue start to make sense. It’s indeed a great ending, but an overall outstanding story and plot, driven by feelings and uncertainty, even during small cutscenes, that shows some sort of raw amateur footage, being extra creepy for obvious reasons.
Soundtrack is available for free to everyone who purchases the game, and can be found by browsing the local game folder. Soundworks composed of 32 tracks at 320kbps, and include the whole in-game music that combines the perfect mood for each situation. Music is also composed by Jesse Makkonen, with guitar chords in melancholic tunes, and piano also at the same rhythm for critical emotional moments. Different sets get different music, of course, and there’s a lot in this title, including sounds to make you chill!
A game that will play with scenery, events and characters themselves, to deliver a solid horror journey for those who are looking for something unique, yet, still honour to true horror, with no compromises!