NAG Online > Games > Review: The Silver Lining Episode 2: Two Households

Review: The Silver Lining Episode 2: Two Households

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Platforms: PC

I’ve written and rewritten this introduction, like, four times. Here’s a précis.

My point is, why – whyyyyy – make a 3D game when it looks totally revolting? Because this game looks totally revolting. It looks totally revolting in ways that other totally revolting things can only dream damp dreams of. It’s not that I’m a graphics slut, mind you, but rather that this game simply looks totally revolting in a way that’s so totally revolting, it’s actually distracting. I know I’m supposed to care about Alexander’s YouTube sex video controversy (or whatever royal scandal the plot is trying so desperately to impart; I stopped paying attention when the game started putting preceding King’s Quest narrative synopses into new sentences), but I just can’t stop gawping at King Graham’s grotesquely malformed limbs. It’s like watching a documentary about Chernobyl babies or something. I liked this project more when it was still a 2D AGS game.

At least they included multiple endings. Lol.

In theory, anyway. I mean, there’s not much making up for the fact that this game is just horrible, horrible, horrible. Okay, they’ve sort of improved the pathfinding algorithms from Episode 1: What Is Decreed Must Be. And… well, that’s about it, really. Pretty much everything that was wrong with that game is still wrong here, only there’s more of it this time around.

Tedious exposition? [x]

Atrocious voice work? [x]

Vapid dialogue? [x]

Characters that used to be cool, now tragically reinvented as maudlin, neurotic, and terminally insipid dorks? [x]

I can't work out where the rest of her is either.

Contrived fan service and excessive references to previous games that would be utterly inscrutable and of no value to newcomers? [x]

Drearily linear and obvious puzzle-solving with absolutely no evidence of ingenuity whatsoever, including a puzzle involving the acquisition of a map when the player apparently already has one? [x]

And as an added (un)bonus, they’ve also included the most hilariously awful running animation cycle I’ve ever seen. I won’t make a joke about the Special Olympics, because it would be insulting to the Special Olympics. But pretend I did anyway.

It's a coat of arms. Or something.

I previously summarised Episode 1 as “King’s Quest fanfiction with bad 3D graphics”, and I can’t think of a better way to describe the sequel. Where each original Sierra title introduced an entirely new adventure, the writers of these games have simply taken all that material and mashed it together – with no regard for its intended context or significance – into something you’d expect to find next to My Immortal in an Encyclopedia Dramatica entry of the worst things on the internet.

  • perceval16

    “I stopped paying attention”

    Yeah, that makes for a really credible review.

  • fluflu

    Actually, to call this a review would be being generous. This is an exercise in slashing a game. The review doesn’t contain any useful information about the game. I’ve seen two reviews already from this woman on the game, and seriously, she really needs to get some journalism training. The same faults she blames the developer in terms of videogames, she does ten time worse at even trying to write a review.

    What’s the game about? How does the interface work? Is she even recognizing the work of the developers as a all volunteer team with a non-existent budget? Does she even have any ideas of what it takes to make a game?

    To compare the graphics of this game to those in that magazine, I mean who can take this woman seriously when she’s just making a joke of herself in public. If you don’t like the game, give us a least a preface of the game before you comment on the negative points. This review tells me absolutely nothing else than you enjoying slashing something just for the sake of fun without any respect for the developer’s work in terms of taking the time to do a thorough review.

    Completely ridiculous. To the woman who wrote this, go get some education before you continue playing an online joke, and let’s see if you can write a better review than a 12 years old next time. Unless you really are 12, which wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Tarryn Van Der Byl

    Dear Cesar Bi- oh sorry, “fluflu”. *WINK WINK*

    I’m not entirely sure what’s offended you so much about this review, apart from it obviously slagging off yo- I mean Phoenix Online Studios’ game.

    How does the interface work? You click on stuff. Sorry, I realise mentioning that in the review would totally have made an enormous difference.

    While we’re on the topic, though, the way the game displays only a line or two of text at a time, at the bottom of the screen, in the world’s smallest font? Yeah, it fucking sucks. There’s a reason the old Sierra and LucasArts games used large floating boxes in the middle of the screen to display text. Hint: Because it’s infinitely better.

    When it comes to evaluating the quality of a game, it’s completely irrelevant to me that the developer has put a lot of effort into it. Would telling you that I spent five days writing this 400-word review change your perception of it? I mean, I put SO much effort into it.

    The hard truth of the matter is that while I respect yo- I mean the developer strictly on the basis of being, well, an indie developer, I simply have no respect for this game, nor the one preceding it. They’re both dreadful, and I think I’ve explained well enough already why I think so. You’re quite entitled to disagree, of course, but your complaint currently amounts to nothing much more than “U CANT RITE LOL” and a whole lot of butthurt, which sort of detracts from its credibility. At least I took the time to point out exactly what I think is wrong with the game.

    Perhaps if you weren’t so busy being offended, you’d take the opportunity to consider this as some meaningful criticism, and approach your next project with it in mind. WELL, YOU WOULD IF YOU WERE ACTUALLY CESAR BITTAR, AND NOT SOME RANDOM GUY ON THE INTERNET, of course.

    I love games. I’d say I’m actually quite lenient when it comes to reviewing, as I’d describe myself as quite easily entertained. But there’s simply nothing positive I could say about this game. I hated it, completely. I grew up playing adventure games, and as far as I’m concerned this isn’t one. It’s just a bunch of bad dialogue, bad puzzles, bad characters, and bad plot mashed together into the game equivalent of one of those trashy paperback fantasy novels with a watercolour dragon on the cover in a bargain bookshop that nobody with any standards whatsoever would consider buying.

    • fluflu

      Yes, you paid so much attention to the game in your review that you actually missed the part where you can set the font subtitles to a larger size.

      I rest my case.

    • fluflu

      Ok, I’m going to apologize for saying the things I said. I did say them out of rage. I kept my mouth shut the first time around, but I just couldn’t this time.

      I just wish I could understand what is really what you have against our game. I’ve seen you review other games where you found everything wrong with them, and the overall review wasn’t nearly as abysmal as it is with this one. You’ve reviewed games where they can’t even tell your from you’re and by that rule, something like that should have gotten a lot more hate, but for whatever reason, you chose to really slash this one.

      It is not normally my rule to question a reviewer’s look on our game. We’ve had many reviews praising our game (even from Ken and Roberta Williams themselves), and especially the look of our game given its non-volunteer status, and we’ve had other reviewers disliking the game, and pointing some of the things out you have pointed. However, I don’t normally feel outraged because the tone of the review is not nearly as aggressive as these two. Now, I’m not here to tell you how to write your reviews, I’m just expressing the reason why I was outraged. And I apologize for that –I don’t like falling into that kind of game, and before continuing it, I may as well draw the line.

      But it still baffles me that you would slash our game so badly. It’s our job to make a game, and your job to review it, and whether you like it or not, it’s not something we should question, but I feel that there is a lot more behind this, because by looking at your other reviews, you’ve certainly never written such a harsh review before –and enjoyed so much doing so. I believe that maybe King’s Quest may have been very dear to you and you consider we mutilated a kid that you loved, but since that’s nowhere to find on either review, as there is no background information or even information about The Silver Lining other than a check list of how horrible you think the game is, I can’t really put my finger on it.

      I will say that this is what particularly bothered me. None of the reviews have any information about what happened in the game. I cannot even get the notion of what kind of game it is, I don’t know how it is tied to King’s Quest by reading it, I have no idea about the background of the project, the fan support, etc. I understand some of these things are not relevant to the review of the game itself, but I wish this review at least told me about the set up of the story, who is King Graham, the music of the game, the features, etc. There was not even mention of how Episode 1 did not support widescreen and Episode 2 did. Also, for the record, this game was never a 2D game. Again, you have your reasons to have written the review in the way you did, and I guess I should respect that –I’m not even insinuating that you redo your work, I’m just really a little bit disheartened to see a work so beloved by the people that made it, people that gave up so much to put this together, reduced to so little. If I’ve been butthurt, I think I have reasons to be.

      In spite of that, and if it is of any interest to you, I would like to talk to you. Explain a bit more of the project to you. I think we’ve gotten off the wrong foot, and I’m certain that can be different. I’d like to show you the world behind what you hated so much, again, if that’s of any interest to you. It probably won’t change your view about the game itself, but maybe it’ll surprise you.

      If this is of any interest to you, please write me at cesar.bittar at postudios dot com

      Thank you for your time, and I hope to talk to you in the future,

      Cesar Bittar.

  • Tarryn Van Der Byl

    Huh. That was unexpected. I’ll be touch with you via email.


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