A new Story of Seasons spinoff has entered the chat.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: 10/3/202
Review Score: 7
Silent Hope is a dungeon crawling RPG that benefits from simple gameplay and fun looting, but struggles with too much grinding.
Reviewer played on Nintendo Switch. A code was provided by the publisher.
Silent Hope launches on October 3, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch and PC
I feel like we were just talking about Rune Factory not too long ago. Huh! Silent Hope is a brand new game from Marvelous, but it’s vaguely set in the Rune Factory universe. You can tell by looking at the livestock - those cows are unmistakable! That’s about where the similarities end, as the unifying element for Story of Seasons and Rune Factory, farming, is all but gone. Instead, Silent Hope goes all in on the dungeon crawling, trading crops for color-coded loot.
Pure, unfiltered dungeon-diving
There are some neat ideas here, especially with how streamlined Silent Hope is. This is a game designed to get the player in and out of its dungeons with as little busywork as possible. You pick your character, jump into The Abyss, fight until you leave or get kicked out, sort out your goodies, then jump back in. Everything else on the margins is as simple as can be, intended to facilitate the most important part.
This is a game designed to get the player in and out of its dungeons with as little busywork as possible.
Silent Hope gets pretty close to hitting a home run in that regard. As the player you’re watching over a group of seven explorers, each with a combat class and a special role back at the base camp. Each role is some type of grindy resource-management, from planting crops and tending livestock to crafting components for blacksmithing. It’s all different-flavored versions of “number go up” menus, but it’s all so quick and simple each stop at camp is just a little dopamine injection. I dig it.
The part that doesn’t land is the grinding curve. The chunk of game between the beginning and endgame is not measured well, and progress grinds (ha) to a halt. Good equipment drops slow down, cooking becomes less fruitful and crafting turns into a lot of labor for the sake of exp. By the time things pick up again you’ve already spent several hours spinning your wheels and dealing with HP sponge enemies so long the momentum struggles to turn around.
The anime grindset
All that said, I found a quiet boost in swapping characters. It isn’t super clear in the game, but when you change to a different fighter in a dungeon, your new hero gets a notable stat buff from the departing homie. The new guy also comes in with a fresh HP pool, extending your run if it was starting to turn down. So there’s a reason to try all seven heroes instead of sticking with the one you like the most. And catching up in levels and gear helps keep the dopamine flowing.
While that does help, ultimately Silent Hope is still a slow burn, without a ton of gameplay variance to freshen up the novelty. Unless you’re fully bought into the grind loop, it’s hard to feel driven to see things all the way through. And I can’t imagine wanting to go back in after rolling credits, especially since there’s no multiplayer.
It’s all different-flavored versions of “number go up” menus, but it’s all so quick and simple each stop at camp is just a little dopamine injection
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of stuff to like about Silent Hope. The vibes are adorable, and it’s fun to get those orange drops because they’re as goofy as they are powerful. Playing around with the different skills and combos each class has is compelling, and the story happening in the background is more interesting than you’d expect.
It’s no Diablo IV, but Marvelous has made a solid effort here in trying something new with the Story of Seasons/Rune Factory/comically rotund livestock brands. A pure dungeon-crawler is not what I would’ve expected from the folks known for farming games, and especially not one so geared towards fast, simple action. A lot of Silent Hope’s problems stem from under the hood tuning, and I can see another swing at this idea landing a much cleaner hit.
A lot of Silent Hope’s problems stem from under the hood tuning, and I can see another swing at this idea landing a much cleaner hit.
I’m down for another one of these, especially if I get to keep bludgeoning monsters with a greatsword-sized turnip.
Silent Hope launches on October 3, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch and PC. A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher for this review.