” Nothin’ happens…”
This is the gunslinger’s tired phrase that describes this tired game. Let me briefly try to describe it. You are a wandering cowboy in search of a son of two settlers kidnapped during a raid, and taken to a town called Silverload. The town is rumored to be controlled by devils, werewolves, and vampires, with a deeper evil lurking within. It’s your average “people-come-in-and-don’t-come-out” song, but depending on your interest, can get kind of deep. Other than a somewhat original plotline and a few attempts at opening up gameplay, it’s problems like bad graphics, poorly engineered play mechanics and control, and a really corny Clint Eastwood imitation that spell doom for this game (especially that Clint Eastwood problem — ugh)
For starters, the control is bad. It seems as if Vic Tokai tried to port over a pure PC-type game, with PC-type controls, and something was lost in translation to the new platform. The control mechanics are pretty much the equivalent of the mouse on a computer, or at least they try to be. This type of control on a Playstation game is often annoying. As with many PC games, to enter or exit an area you must be on a computer-specified pinpoint (of course, that point is not shown on the screen). If you don’t point-and-click at this exact point, and not a nanometer away, you will be pointing and clicking for hours trying to do ANYTHING. It can get frustrating, as in the case when you enter a hotel through a door, and spend hours finding out that you can’t exit through a door, but out a window (?!). Also, at one point, this innkeeper gives you a choice: sleep in the stables with your gun, or in a room for two dollars. If you choose to sleep in a room, you can’t open the door with a key, but have to wait for awhile to find out how to get in. If you sleep in the stables, you are automatically killed in your sleep.
If you take too long, a cinema of some werewolf-devil thing with long teeth pops up. Then, just like that 1/3 of your energy is gone. No gunfight, no surprise, no fending off the beast, just a dinky cinema. If the programmers wanted you to know you were taking too long, they might as well have put up a sign on the screen every hour, or half hour. Even that would’ve been more realistic. But then again, that wouldn’t be a problem if the game weren’t so slow. (Although this is mainly due to the faulty controls).
Every time you learn something new, which feels more of an achievement than it should be, you run into problems with the mechanics. There are command icons for looking, moving, talking, operating, sleeping, and taking. The problem is that use have to use the right icon on exactly the right part of the screen or ‘nuthin’ happens.’ For example if you use the pointer, to say, open a door, you can put the icon on the doorknob and get no response. An hour later, you might come to find out that you had to point at the door itself, not the knob. It’s so bad that they had to put a whole segment in the instruction booklet on how to begin your quest. As a matter of fact, I guarantee this game will be nearly impossible to start if you rent it without the instruction booklet.
Some of the things on this game are annoying, from the Tough Guy Tom image, to the fact that you can’t do much with the stuff you get, which is also frustrating. At one point, you see a dead man hanging and the ‘gunslinger’ suggests you find something to cut him down. The closest thing I could find was a hickory stake with which you not only can’t cut him down, but you can’t fend off the things that attack in you in your sleep, or that cinema thing. I bet its used for vampire stabbing later in the game
Other than the nice SGI cinemas the graphics are pretty subpar, like advanced SNES graphics rather than decent Playstation graphics. Most of the art is unappealing, looking sort of ‘realistically cartoony’. The characters voices and accents are pretty well done, although the way they move their lips is repulsive. The boy’s father talks like he swallowed down a whole clove of garlic with a side of cod liver oil.
But hey, at least now the bad news is out of the way (but if the article is almost over. . .). I personally liked what they tried what they to do with the game, but the whole game is a near miss. But if you specialize in this puzzle/adventure genre, and can delve deep into a plotline like this, this could be your game.
This game just missed on a lot of things Resident Evil had, such as simpler, user friendly player interface, and good control. These games are obviously different, but share a similar adventure format, which makes it easy to see why Resident Evil became,…well, Resident Evil, and why Silverload basically, bites the dust. . .