Silent Hope - Switch Review

Silent Hope by developer Marvelous Inc and publisher XSeed GamesSwitch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

A land bereft of voices, where you cannot speak. An abyss filled with malice on the Kingdom's edge. Seven brave heroes arrive, ready to aid a princess in returning the voices back to the people. Oh, there's a lot of monsters down in that Abyss by the way. Have fun traversing it in Silent Hope!

Long ago a kingdom experienced a tragedy. After this tragedy, the citizens blamed their king, and turned their words against each other. The king, distressed by what his once-kind citizens had become, sealed away their voices and threw himself into the Abyss. Three hundred years later, seven heroes arrive at the mouth of the pit leading to the abyss. Meeting a princess trapped in a crystal tear, the seven heroes who have gathered are tasked with clearing the layers of the abyss, reaching the bottom, and recovering the voices of the kingdom from the king.

Your seven heroes, yes they're all you, now have to venture through the abyss after setting up an encampment near the princess's crystal. The only problem is they haven't exactly brought much along with them. No worries though! The abyss is chock full of interesting creatures, plants, and minerals to help you out! The standard gameplay loop for Silent Hope will have you making a delve into the abyss, returning to collect completed materials and start production on new ones, crafting gear and food, then heading back into the abyss.

So, while six of the heroes are setting up the hub area for your return, let's take a trip into the "only one person at a time" abyss. The abyss is essentially a roguelite type dungeon, where every time you enter there is a new layout, albeit with some exceptions. Your goal is to keep moving down floors until you reach the bottom. This can be done either by killing all the monsters in your way on the way down, running by as many things as possible and avoiding combat when an option, or a combination of the two. If you do go about beating up the things in your way, you'll earn exp, as well as maybe items, runes (which are the currency used in Silent Hope), or equipment blueprints and food recipes. Some floors have gates barring entry to the route downwards, some require you to fight through rooms that will spawn a number of enemies while you are trapped in a room, and some are boss or miniboss fights.

So, the abyss comes in layers, with each layer having a set number of floors, with some of those floors indicated to you if they are a special or normal floor. Don't worry by the way, there are plenty of return crystals you can use, as well as the occasional checkpoint that you can choose to go back to when you return to the abyss. Dying in the abyss isn't super awful either, as while you do lose some items you've collected, you are returned to your camp area with all your equipment and levels intact, although you will have to start again from the nearest checkpoint.

Now that you've made a trip into the abyss and brought some spoils, it's time to take a look at what the other six have been up to in your absence! First up on the left side of base, they've set up an Atelier and Workshop. These two facilities allow you to turn minerals and wood based items into crafting materials, respectively. These crafting materials can then be used at the Forge in order to craft gear such as weapons, rings, and earrings, one of each can be equipped by characters. Something to note is that it takes time for the materials to be turned into crafting materials, while equipment is an instant completion item. On the right side of the base we have the farm, the fields, and the kitchen. These are similar to the left side, only result in the creation of food items, up to three of which can be set that will give you a boost on your next run through the abyss.

In the back of the base you'll find the princess trapped in her crystal. You can talk with her, the only one to retain her voice, and she will help you appraise unknown blueprints you find in the abyss, change your characters' classes, as well as check and turn in missions for rewards. Classes are individual to each hero, along with specific weapon types that are unique to the individual heroes, and have different stat distributions and unlockable skills associated with them. Once skills are unlocked they can be used on any class.

Before we go back into the abyss to teach you some of the combat basics, I do want to emphasize that each of the seven heroes is very distinct. Their classes, weapons, as well as combat style and skills are all unique to that hero. For example, my personal favourite unit, the warrior, uses a greatsword, has buffing and sword spinning skills that tend to stun enemies, and has the classes: warrior, paladin, and berserker. The caster on the other hand uses a staff, uses skills that are based around magic, and has the classes: caster, sage, and summoner. All the classes, associated skills, and unlock conditions can be checked at the class change menu. 

While this means there are a lot of different characters with cool sets of playstyles, the heroes do have different weapons, as well as levels. So, building all seven heroes at once could be a little rough on you if you want them all to keep pace with each other. There are also other factors to consider, like different effects built into weapon blueprints, and synth stones you can attach to gear to add different effects and elemental attributes.

Well then, let's hop back into the abyss for a bit to talk a little more about the exploration and combat. As you travel through the layers of the abyss, you will come across plants and rocks to break for materials, chests to open for blueprints and runes, as well as monsters to battle for, well, all of the above really. Exploring the abyss is a 3D active action style, where you have full control of your character as you attack, dodge, chug one of your two potions to heal, and use skills. Good news by the way, skills don't consume any resource, and just require a period of waiting time before they're available for use again, something that took me a while to get used to at first. As you level you will get skill points that you can spend to upgrade your skills.

Now, you may be wondering "why use multiple units then if everything is individual?". First up, there are plenty of enemies and bosses that are kind of rough with certain units. Using the warrior as an example, one boss hits hard and fast, so you want to stay far away from them, but if you don't have a character with some ranged skills, you're in for either a long "hit and away" tactic fight or a really rough slog. Second, as the heroes are individual, sometimes you might get really good gear for a hero you don't use and not the one you are currently using. I managed to go almost three full layers without getting a decent weapon for either my warrior or archer, for example. Also, class unlock requirements have to be earned individually as well, so a hero you don't like could have a skill set you may like but will never see if you don't use them. Third, and maybe most important for the more casual player, is that you can actually swap heroes out mid run through the abyss anytime you find a crystal, earning stat boosts when you sub out as you explore.

I'll be honest, if you're only going for a single run on the easiest difficulty, or even a little higher, you can certainly get away with only using one character, but you'll be missing out. Thankfully, since there are six heroes remaining at base at all times, any production requests you have will still be ongoing while you're out! Also, there is a post game and harder difficulties, so swapping out and keeping your heroes all leveled does have its share of benefits.

Silent Hope is wrapped in a neat package that any Harvest Moon or Rune Factory fans will probably recognize pretty fast. Yup, the farming game has an action RPG spin-off, so expect a lot of the same sort of colourful and chibi artstyle that you've come to love. Each layer has its own theme that is reflected in the terrain style and enemies you encounter, and while there is some repetition and palette swapping of enemies, they normally have at least one or two aspects that set them apart from their earlier counterparts.

So, we're nearing the end, but let's talk about a few things that haven't really fit in anywhere else yet. First up, there's a sizeable post-game. By this I mean that there are more unlockable difficulties, as well as extra stages that are unlocked by clearing the game. While some may find it gets a little repetitive, that's what the multiple characters are for. If you're a fan of the roguelite action RPG style then you'll also be glad there's more to it. Exciting news as well, class respecs are completely free and at will. I was a little worried about this when I first started, but after my first class unlock I tried it and it let me completely refund all my skill points, right before a boss that my set-up wasn't particularly good for. This is great, especially since there are a lot of skills I like, but might be situational or not good against large amounts of enemies, or vice-versa.

Now for the two really cool points. First up, your base camp will change to reflect your clearing of the abyss. As you continue to go through new floors, you'll start accruing items in the back near the princess's crystal. Also, your 3rd class will net you a cool wooden figure that gets a shelf you can view, which is really neat. My other really cool point is that the credit sequence is one of the neatest I've seen in quite some time. You'll have to see it for yourself, but I was a fan of it.

Now obviously, as a Roguelite action RPG, this won't fit in everyone's wheelhouse, especially if you consider it can get somewhat repetitive if you don't change classes or try different characters. While #MarvelousEurope didn't really break any molds with Silent Hope, that's not to say it doesn't have its fair share of charm and unique twists and takes on the genre. I thoroughly enjoyed even some of the rougher points while playing through Silent Hope until now, and will continue my harder difficulty runs after this for sure. Definitely take a look at this cool title for either your action RPG or roguelite needs, and I doubt you'd be disappointed.

Score: 8.5 / 10