The Silver Lining Episode 2
I will admit that after playing the first episode of The Silver Lining that I was not looking forward to playing the second. I was pleasantly surprised when I dug into episode 2 and found the gameplay to be much more reminiscent of the classic adventure game that The Silver Lining is founded on.
The presentation of Two Households is, for the most part, identical to that of episode 1. Keeping in mind that this is an independently developed game that is free to play, Phoenix Online has done a very good job with the graphics and level design. Many of the locations from the first episode return this time around with a bit more exploring to be had as well a few new locales to poke around in. These areas are rich in color and there’s plenty to look at. You won’t need to worry about finding any blood, gore or other obscene imagery in Two Households. The main story revolves around a mysterious cloaked sorcerer, so there is a bit of mysticism weaved into some of the cinematics but nothing too intense. Speaking of cinematics, this episode has the right balance offering players much more gameplay while using the cut scenes to supplement the story.
The ambient sounds used in episode 2 are fantastic. Near the shore you’ll hear seagulls calling, in the book store you’ll hear nothing but a soft crackling from the fireplace. These background sounds really help draw you into the game and give you a feel for your surroundings. The music is excellent as well. The story is presented with a lot of drama and the music compliments this. The voice acting of the main character is done well and many other characters are pretty good with a few exceptions. One of my big problems with the first episode was the excessive amount of narration. Happily this episode provides an option to turn on “short narrations” which apparently eliminates some of the unnecessary commentary. I can’t say that I could detect exactly what was different with this option on, but I do know that the narrator did not irritate me quite as much this time around. Players will still find massive amounts of dialog to be had with other characters in the game. Phoenix Online has been very ambitious with this game and has created a very detailed story. It is my opinion that too much dialog has been crammed into certain conversations making it difficult to discern what the important information is and what is just extra mustard. Another thing players should take under advisement is that once you’ve completed a dialog option it is gone and you have no way to repeat it if you missed some important detail. Amazingly, even with all of the dialog being thrown around, I didn’t detect a hint of profanity. Kudos to Phoenix Online for keeping it clean.
There’s nary an extra feature or unlockable to be found in this game. This shouldn’t be a surprise as the adventure genre generally doesn’t employ these tactics to entice players. When you complete this episode you will be offered a sneak peek at episode 3, but that’s the extent of the bonus features. Keep in mind that this game is free to download and play so you can’t really beat the value.
I was very impressed with the gameplay of episode 2 in comparison to that of episode 1. This time around players will experience true classic adventure gaming. And by true classic adventure gaming I mean that you will search, and search, and search a while longer for that one object that you’re sure you are overlooking until you reach your breaking point and turn the game off. After an appropriate cool down period, you will fire the game back up and realize that you simply weren’t thinking clearly and will find the solution to the problem almost instantly. This should resonate with anyone who has played the classic Sierra adventures of old. I give Phoenix Online a salute for managing to capture this illusive style of gameplay. Players will enjoy the fun of filling their inventory with many seemingly useless objects and discovering the somewhat illogical use these objects have within the game. I did find my mission to be unclear at times which was frustrating. Having a minor hint system in place or at least the option to revisit previous conversations would have been helpful in gaining some direction.
Two Households is family friendly for the most part. I actually found
many good values and views expressed in the game on dealing with bad
things that happen in life. Traditional marriage is promoted as well as
the need for a family to stand by one another during difficult times. I
was also encouraged when the story of Samson and Delilah made an
appearance, but then disappointed to realize that the narrative had
removed any mention of God from the story and replaced Him with
“angels”. Players will also need to interact with a seductive spider
that makes several attempts to entice your character. Even though this
is kept light and not explicit, some may find the dialog offensive. The
only other questionable material I found were a few suggestive comments
made by a sailor regarding the sea nymphs. Overall this game is very
clean and what I would consider safe for preteen to adult players. If
you enjoy classic adventure gaming and haven’t given The Silver Lining a
chance, or if you were disappointed by the first installment, now would
be a great time to get in on this adventure.
Family Friendly Factor: 78%
System: Personal Computer
Publisher: Phoenix Online
Rating: 'NR' for Not Rated
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