Completion time: 12:07:15
I knew of Silver before coming into this. What I didn’t know, was what kind of an RPG this was. Was it a JRPG? an action RPG? Something else? Well, it’s an action RPG, and boy, is it something else too.
Right off the bat, Silver gives heavy Final Fantasy VII vibes. Not because of gameplay or story similarities, but the art direction looks like a higher res FFVII. Pre-rendered game world (occasionally with some quality scenery) with that chibi-esque FFVII character visuals. The only oddity from this all is the insistence of giving the main protagonist a semblance of a unique face, which looks hilariously bad. The unlocked frame rate gives an occasionally disjointed visual presentation, where things are silky smooth when there are 0-1 enemies, but drop down to a modest 30fps when more than one enemy is around.
I’m not sure what developer Spiral House were aiming for with regards to the gameplay. I knew that Silver was also a PC title, so maybe some of the funky melee combat originates from there. Players can swing at will with A, but holding R and pressing one of four different directions on the analog stick will produce different attacks. You’ll learn quickly that the key to surviving the melee onslaught from your adversaries is to hold R and press up over and over for the lunge attack. With the right weapon, you can deliver the best overall damage, all while producing a bit of a stunlock/knockback with each hit. Items as a whole felt like an afterthought; keep using the weapon that provides the most lunge damage and that’s basically it. This will work wonders on the general grunts and weakling foes you encounter, but taking on bosses is a whole other subject.
In a whole other language.
The early, non-dragon related boss battles are fine enough; you usually see a spot where you can attack them with little to no aggression from them, sometimes doing double damage given your position. But taking on the dragon enemies of this game becomes an exercise of patience, and I ran out of patience quickly with each of them. For the most part, range attacks are the only way of taking them out. Problem is, range attacks on a non-magical side have limited resources and produce such piddly damage, and the magic/wand based attacks produce just as meager gains, with even more limited resources that takes time to replenish. The ice dragon has a very distinct pattern, where landing any hit (even a melee, though not advised to be that close ever to it) after it shows that it’s panting, does at least 25 damage. The problem is it was 45 seconds or more to run through its offensive cycle to get back to that point. By then you’ve already depleted your non-magical ranged items, and getting pot shots in while it flies, while it does damage, is almost pointless. Any boss battle that requires ranged combat to fell is an absolute nightmare to partake in.
The biggest black eye in Silver‘s experience is the third act. You’ll discover quickly that magic finally has a use, as the teleporting wizard enemies are some of the most obnoxious enemies you can fight in a video game. Get in melee range, they teleport away. Shoot ranged weaponry or spells at them, 1/3 of the time they’ll dodge. It made the final dungeon an unbearable slog, to the point where I was considering tossing my Dreamcast against the wall. The second to last boss fight is an extreme exercise in patience. I won’t spoil it here (you’ll see it in the VOD if you choose to view it), but the idea behind it was highly clever, but the execution is drawn out and tedious. The ending didn’t fill in any gaps that were created within the final 10 minutes either, leaving one major question forever unanswered.
One of the bright spots to Silver is its audio, mainly the voice acting and the script. The quality of voice acting is….special. Think Resident Evil mixed with Silent Bomber, but very British. It’s awful, but it’s so endearing that it’s hard not to do anything but laugh and enjoy how cheesy it is. The comical writing adds to the experience as well, making dialog portions of the game its highlight. On top of that, the soundtrack is actually really well done, with only one song that got annoying quickly (library).
Is Silver worth playing? It’s kind of hard to really give that thumbs up, especially due to the final act. The storyline works, and with the hammy voice acting and quality script, it’s very much worth playing just to hear this all unfold. The thing is, combat on a whole is very uninspiring, and boss battles are a war of attrition. They are not fun at all, and the combat as a whole outside of that is serviceable, yet unremarkable, to the point where it’s just kinda “there”. It’s during the final act that the game falls apart, and becomes a test of patience that I nearly failed. If you’re a Dreamcast game collector, I’d say pick this up if it’s not too expensive. If you want to experience Silver but don’t want to put the time and effort into playing it, watch my VOD’s or a longplay on YouTube. Honestly, it’ll be a much better experience watching and not participating.