The Silver Lining: Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be Review
The Silver Lining: Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Phoenix Online Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Phoenix Online Studios 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 11, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: N/A 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

The game begins where the old story left off. In the Land of the Green Isles, one of King Graham’s twins, Rosella, is set to marry her suitor, Edgar. On the wedding day, a stranger in a black cloak swoops down, places an evil magic spell on both twins, and disappears, leaving only the cloak. Playing as King Graham, you set out to find the stranger and break the spell on your daughters.

The Silver Lining: Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be screenshot

Clocking in at about an hour, with most of that time being taken up by cutscenes, the game feels more than a little sparse. There’s really only one puzzle in the whole episode, after which you sail between a few islands, watching cutscenes and looking for clues as to the stranger’s whereabouts. Though the world feels big and open, most of the paths are blocked, making the experience linear. If Activision were charging people to play this game, we’d denounce the entire project as a rip-off.

But as far as we can tell, Episode 1 is not really meant to be a full experience in itself. If you see it as a demo, or an introduction to a larger and more ambitious work, it holds a lot of promise. For one thing, the sheer attention to detail is impressive. Before games had great graphical capabilities and refined gameplay mechanics, developers had to use words to explain what characters could and couldn’t do. That’s replicated here. Walk out on a balcony, and the narrator tells you what your character is thinking. Touch a suit of armor, and the narrator notes that it’s too heavy for you to wear. (Yes, she sounds like she’s talking to a child, but we already admitted the voiceover work was terrible, right?) To those who enjoyed video games back when this kind of storytelling was popular, The Silver Lining is a great reminder of how much developers did with the tools they had.

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Also, while the in-game graphics lack detail, as noted above, they do a wonderful job of evoking the feel of old games and depicting the universe of King’s Quest in 3-D. The polygon count is low, but there’s a good degree of charm in the castle and the surrounding area. If you have memories of playing classic PC adventure games, The Silver Lining will bring them back. However, if you were a fan of the King’s Quest series in particular, the experience can induce déjà vu. Much of this world is exactly the way it was in the early 1990s, only with an extra dimension. Despite all the glitches we experienced with them, the cutscenes are well-done from a directorial standpoint: the camera is always artfully placed, and some of the imagery does a lot with a little bit of processing power.

Even the sound has its good side, at least if you ignore the voiceovers and concentrate on the music. The haunting pieces feel right at home in the game’s medieval setting, and they’re amazingly well-done for a free fan-made game. The compositions are all original, and we hope the musicians responsible for them get paying work as a result of the great job they did here.

Again, this game feels dated, and there’s really not a whole lot to this first episode. For Episode 2, we’ll be looking for a lot more (and better) puzzles and a much higher gameplay-to-cutscene ratio. The franchise’s storied history and surviving fanbase make it ripe for a continuation, and if it’s done right, The Silver Lining could be a real contribution to retro adventure gaming. Episode 1 is far from a masterpiece, but it could be the prelude to one. And as far as price goes, you can’t beat free.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.3
Graphics
They’re sparse, and we experienced a lot of glitches with the cutscenes, but they do give the game a sense of character.
2.8
Control
They’re not bad if you’re looking for a retro experience, but clunky if you’re used to modern games.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound is a mixed bag, featuring great music. but terrible voice acting.
3.6
Play Value
There’s less than an hour of play time, and most of that is cutscenes. For longtime fans, however, there’s a lot to like, and it’s free.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The first of five PC game episodes, “What Is Decreed Must Be” is available for free download from http://www.tsl-game.com.
  • The Silver Lining is the result of eight years of volunteer effort.
  • Polished 3-D artwork, high-quality animation, an original soundtrack, and a voice cast that includes professional off-Broadway actors.


  • Screenshots / Images

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