Have you got your thinking cap on? You better, and it best be pushed on hard and seriously secured to your head. Chronique Des Silencieux isn’t the sort of game you can just cruise through. This point-and-click-like detective mystery game requires you to pay close attention, spot inconsistencies in your lines of questioning and play the best amateur detective you can possibly imagine.
If you prefer to coast through the events of a game, simply following waypoints and being guided from one key moment to the next, this isn’t for you. Chronique des Silencieux needs you to be the driving force, and while there is a hint system on-board if you get stuck, it’s never going to spell out what to do. And using it will affect your score at the end of a chapter. Use it at your peril, then.
You will want to pay attention to the events here, though, because the story of Chronique des Silencieux is beautifully told and instantly captivating. Playing as Eugene, you’re thrust into the murky underbelly of 1960s and 1970s France. At the beginning of the game you’re naught but a teenage boy, but you’ll be dealing with investigating tales of brothels, working girls, drugs and murder. On top of it all, your uncle, who you’ve come to visit, is in prison.
Being given the role of an amateur detective, then, it seems Eugene has his work cut out for him. You’ll have multiple leads to follow, beginning with getting your uncle out of prison – but it won’t take long until you’re also investigating a drug dealer, a seemingly kind-hearted teacher who has some dark secrets and plenty more.
There are some classic point-and-click moments in Chronique des Silencieux: you’ll need to sort through a stack of papers to find something useful, for example. Or maybe you’ll need to click around an old wardrobe ’til you find its secret hiding space (a little clue for you there!). But much of its gameplay comes in the form of talking to characters. Translated from French, the dialogue here is rich and fascinating – and while there’s been the odd small translation error there’s been nothing major enough to break our immersion in the game’s world.
The characters here are wonderful, and you’ll want to chat with each one as much as possible. Thankfully, every conversation will be recorded in your journal – a key detail, since you’ll need to pick out important snippets of information that either back up a theory or contradict something else you’ve learned elsewhere. You’ll need to join up information from a document with something from a conversation, leading to a key piece of evidence being uncovered.
The trouble? There’s absolutely no guidance here, and if you’re anything like us you’ll spend a lot of time painstakingly matching up bits of information that feel like they should go – like the package of drugs you’ve found in a furniture store, and any one of the multiple lines of dialogue stating there’s nothing untoward happening there – only being hit with a brick wall. We’re not ashamed to say that after five hours of playing, we haven’t made it very far through Chronique des Silencieux.
We want to, and we will persist, but it’s slow going. To really get to the bottom of Chronique des Silencieux, you need to pay full attention to every conversation and read through every document you collect with a fine-tooth comb. You need to undertake every conversation the game offers to you, and be able to recall details you’ve seen or heard earlier, to know what might make a valid connection. When something does click, it feels incredible: you are a true detective. But getting there can be a tiresome, frustrating slog.
If you’re up for the task, though, Chronique des Silencieux is, in many ways, a triumph. This is a game made by a very small team and the amount of detail put in not only to its art style, its characters but its story and mechanics too, is unrivalled by just about any other detective game out there. However, if you’re hoping to have your hand held – or at the very least, a helpful pointer in the right direction – you’re going to want to look elsewhere. You’re on your own with this one.
Chronique des Silencieux is available now on PC, with a free demo available to try.