During Square Enix's bizarre 2018 E3 conference we mostly saw nothing of value. However, there was one game that caught my eye. This was The Quiet Man, and I'm not sure it captured my attention for the right reasons. Since seeing more of it, I realize I was excited not as a game but as a possible train wreck. Now it's in my hands, and simply, it's hard to be quiet about how hilariously awful the game truly is.
You play as Dane, a name I only know because I read the game's Steam description. The best I can figure is that Dane works for a crime boss and is in love with some lounge singer. Then, some guy in a bird's mask shows up and kidnaps the lounge singer. After that, I totally lost the plot. At no point does The Quiet Man even try to make sense. Sometimes there are hints of supernatural stuff. I think three different characters betray you. I'm not sure any of it ever matters.
The reason I can't figure the game's plot out at all? Dane is deaf. The Quiet Man attempts to emulate this by playing no sound at all at any point in the game. This is a novel idea that can totally work if the developers build the game around it. However, The Quiet Man is not that game. It's overwhelmingly obvious that this was a regular game that quickly shoehorned this in. Cutscenes will go five or more minutes yet include absolutely nothing but two characters talking. There are no subtitles, there are no translations, there is no way to tell what they're saying. As such, the plot gets totally lost.
However, The Quiet Man seems particularly strange about this. The excuse given is that you "experience the world as Dane does." Yet, Dane can understand sign language, so why isn't any of that subtitled? It's later shown that Dane can read lips, but the game still isn't telling you what anyone is saying? Why are scenes that don't even have Dane in them silent too?
The truth is, The Quiet Man has no interest in showing you how a deaf person experiences the world. Instead, deafness quickly becomes an insulting gimmick. It's all part of an attempt to try to make a subpar beat 'em up stand out from the crowd. This especially feels true when you finish the game and it flat out tells you that you didn't actually get the story before showing a countdown timer that shows how long before they release the patch that puts all the noises back in.
It should be noted that many of the game's cutscenes are actually FMVs. It's clear this is a very low budget production, as the game only uses FMVs for the most simple of moments. Long car conversations play out in FMV and the game awkwardly transitions to CGI the minute any action takes place. It's hilariously obvious when these moments happen, as the CGI is awful. Sometimes the transitions are sudden, hidden behind a flash of white light. Other times the camera slowly pans to something innocent, like a wall, transitioning as it does so. I got the feeling the goal was to amaze players at these transitions. Instead, they just caused me to burst into laughter.
When its time to actually play The Quiet Man, you'll be punching people in the face. The game has a very basic brawling system where you combine light and heavy attacks into something that vaguely resembles a combo. I say vaguely because all of the attacks feel sluggish and I was never sure which button did what. There's a dodge button, and I could dodge attacks to counter-attack in theory. In practice, this only worked about once every five or so times I tried it. There's no tutorial or interface of any kind. If there's some secret to how to get consistently working counter attacks, it never revealed itself.
There are a few attempts to mix things up with a focus system. At certain times you can focus on an enemy to deliver a special super powerful attack. However, it's never made clear when these times actually are. The only way I ever got focus to work was by smashing the button until it eventually let me use one. The attacks themselves are only really noteworthy for how underwhelming they are. Nearly every time I performed a focus attack, I got the same one. A really goofy open-palmed slap to the top of an enemy's head. It's the kind of thing that makes you just want to say "boop" when it happens, and not once did it look actually threatening.
Not like any of this matters once you learn how easy it is to exploit the combat system. Every single enemy in the game falls victim to the same problem. You can pin them against a wall and lock them into an endless combo by mashing the light attack. This includes bosses and even the final boss. It turns an already boring beat 'em up into a trivially easy one that makes you a tired man. It's not like there's even simple enemy variety to change things up. Every enemy is exactly the same, even if they're holding a weapon. I can't think of a single fight where I had to do anything other than mash light attacks against a guy pinned against a wall.
The lack of sound is also present in combat, contributing to a constant feeling of apathy. A dull muffled "thud" is the only feedback you get from your attacks. As you can imagine, this fails to actually sell your hits. There's no soundtrack at all, which seems weird because it's not like adding a soundtrack would do anything other than make the game feel a little better.
Everything about The Quiet Man is just plain ugly. Animations are stiff and fail to convey any weight. One awkward scene saw the main character dodging a boss' punch, but it's tough to buy when the boss' fist clips right through the main character's face. Speaking of Dane, his design looks like someone decided to mash together Spider-Man 3's emo Peter Parker with a 16-year-old version of Resident Evil's Leon S. Kennedy. The result is a character that I can safely say made me laugh at every scene he was in.
Look, even as a "so bad it's good" game, The Quiet Man doesn't work. It's a boring, baffling, and genuinely insulting video game that fails at every single thing it tries. The story makes no sense as the protagonist's deafness becomes a mere gimmick. The beat 'em up elements are absolutely no fun, the controls are awkward, and the game is ugly. The only positive I can pull from this is that I always wanted to see how much worse it could get. The Quiet Man deserves to remain silent.
TechRaptor reviewed The Quiet Man on PlayStation 4 with a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC and Xbox One.
The Quiet Man is an absolute disaster of ideas that don't work, bad design decisions, boring combat, ugly graphics, and attempting to use a real disability as a gimmick in a way that feels borderline insulting.(Review Policy)
- There May Be Great Voice Acting?
- Dumb, Nonsensical Story
- Poorly Used Deafness
- Terrible FMV to CGI Transitions
- Boring Gameplay
- Ugly Graphics