Silent Hope has a strong opening, with a straightforward premise and approachable controls. It effectively points you at a target and says, “Go!” all while lulling you in with its charming chibi style and disarming color palette. After playing Silent Hope for review, I'm not sure if that premise holds up in the long run.
This game comes from the same universe that brought us Story of Seasons and Rune Factory, as evidenced by the cute farm animals and adorable art style. This hack-and-slash isometric dungeon crawler is an exercise in simplicity, and it finds a lot of joy in the basics.
However, the difficulty curve creates a consistently frustrating experience over the long haul. There’s a lot of grinding, which makes it a decent contender for one of those kinds of games you play while listening to a podcast. But when you’re thrown into a mosh pit of spongey enemies, its rudimentary fundamentals start to feel like bare-bones restraints.
Dive Into the Abyss
In Silent Hope, you play as seven different heroes who have to fight their way through a seemingly never-ending abyss. The king has disappeared, taking everyone’s ability to speak along with him. Only his daughter, encased in crystal, can telepathically speak to your characters.
She can also protect only one of them as they dive into the void, creating a gameplay reason for you to only control one character.
Each layer is broken up into multiple floors, with a checkpoint at every couple of floors. Between you and each exit is a labyrinth filled with enemies, which you can dispatch using basic attacks or three active abilities.
For example, your basic warrior wields a sword and shield and does a three-hit combo for his attack string. He can tackle with his shield, which stuns enemies he hits, or do a spin move to knock back enemies. He can also do a shout that increases his defense for a short period of time.
That’s the sort of stuff you can expect from each character. You’ve got lots of the archetypes covered here, although some have a fun twist. The mage also wears a doctor’s coat, and the spear wielder actually uses a pitchfork because she’s a farmer. And the rogue is a maid because anime, I guess.
While you explore, you’ll come across crystals, which you can use to return to the surface or swap to another character. Whoever you swap from will leave you with a passive buff, and you could theoretically get a buff from all seven characters if you swap enough.
It’s a nice way to incentivize investing in every character. Additionally, each hero comes with only two potions, so for basic survivability, it helps to be proficient with most if not all the characters.
When a character hits level 15, they unlock a second class, which comes with a set of three new abilities that often felt like game changers. For every one of them, I ended up using a mix of old and new attacks, and it was fun respeccing and tinkering to find the build that worked for me.
Attacking enemies, dodging their attacks, and using your abilities are pretty much exactly what you’re doing for most of Silent Hope. When you’re on a floor that perfectly matches your character’s stats, it’s pretty fun, all things considered.
Unfortunately, you learn pretty quickly that the game rarely matches your stats. Sure, games are supposed to get progressively more challenging and, by extension, more fun. Every time you hit a new layer, however, there’s a drastic shift in numbers here.
Enemies get way too much health, and your defense stat becomes effectively useless. I’m all for difficult combat, and dodging is easy enough. But on a fundamental level, wailing on a basic mob for 30 seconds is just not fun, and the elite enemies are worse.
Of course, the more you progress, the more you get your hands on stronger weapons and sturdier accessories, so it gets more tolerable. But instead of feeling like a gradual increase in your power, it’s a drastic, dramatic shift in your survivability and power.
And every time you enter a new layer, there’s an equal and opposite shift that spikes the difficulty. It creates this exhausting grind that only soured my overall time with Silent Hope.
Loot With a Lot of Extra Steps
As you progress through a layer, you’ll harvest materials from resource points and enemies. You can use these to craft better equipment, but you’ll need blueprints, which also randomly drop in the dungeons. Each blueprint has a rank that tells you generally how strong an item is; the higher the rank, the better the stats. They also come with a rarity; rarer items have more randomly rolled bonuses (and slightly higher stats). Once you craft an item though, that blueprint disappears.
If that sounds exhausting, that’s because it really is, in multiple ways. You’ll quickly rack up a ton of blueprints, making overall inventory management a literal chore. And because you get a finite amount of resources, it’s simply not worth spending your ore on lower-ranked equipment.
Additionally, some enemy loot drop rates feel really low, which isn’t inherently a bad thing. But when almost every defense upgrade requires the same Burnt Bunny Tail, and that bunny rarely drops its tail, and you're outfitting seven different heroes, your patience runs thin pretty quickly.
The tedium doesn’t end there, either. Between runs, you’ll return to your home base, where the other six characters will run stations. You can leave the farmer with some seeds and the blacksmith with some ore, and after a set amount of time, they’ll give you crafting material.
That time seems to be measured by the number of enemies you kill or resource points you harvest in the dungeon. So if you need to stock up on some platinum, you literally have to grind it out by actually playing through the dungeon.
The sour cherry on top here is that every time you return to base, you have to reset every one of your stations to work on material. It gets tiresome after a few hours of going through the same menus over and over.
All the while, the princess will constantly comment on what you’re doing. At first, it was charming. After you hear the same lines repeated, especially while crafting, it gets even easier to justify muting the game in favor of a podcast.
You can pay with in-game currency to complete resource processing instantly, but when the choice is between paying to upgrade equipment or speed up your resources, it feels like a painfully unnecessary choice to put on players.
Unfortunately, at the end of it all, I didn’t find much that made me want to keep going in Silent Hope. The story is told primarily by the princess, who speaks to you every couple floors to give cryptic hints about the kingdom’s downfall. The narrative felt pretty by the numbers, and it isn’t really a driving factor.
Silent Hope Review | Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for an isometric dungeon crawler to sink your teeth into, Silent Hope tries to rise to the challenge with loads of content. I beat the fifth layer’s final boss, which is where the main story ends, but there’s an extensive endgame that awaits.
It goes up to seven layers, and then there’s Hard and Master modes, effectively giving you 21 iterations of layers to go through. When you beat the seventh layer, you unlock a third class for all your characters. However, I feel comfortable stopping at the fifth.
Silent Hope serves up the same gameplay loop again and again, introducing more spongey enemies for you to overcome with nothing but patience and perseverance. By the time I finished the main story, my patience ran out, and I’d rather persevere in another game.
Silent Hope was reviewed on PC (Steam Deck) with a copy provided by the publisher over the course of 17 hours of gameplay. All screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Cute chibi art style
- Basic combat is simple but enjoyable at first
- Spongey enemies make combat boring
- Loot and crafting system forces grinding
- Very by-the-numbers narrative