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June 2024

Songs Of Silence

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Chimera Entertainment
Release Date: 2024


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PC Preview - 'Songs of Silence'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 19, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Songs Of Silence is a story-rich strategy game, set in two distinct fantasy worlds threatened by the all-devouring Silence.

For the most part, games are initially categorized by their genre and then further classified by the different types of games in said genre. For example, with strategy games, you can come up with designations for play style and scale. It isn't too often that you see a game try to embody all of the different subgenres at once, but that's exactly what the team at Chimera Entertainment has done with its upcoming title, Songs of Silence. We checked out the game's closed beta build to see how it's coming along.

We're starting off the analysis with the game's basic elements, which are few yet prominent. You control groups of units that will be familiar to genre veterans, like archers, horseback riders, infantry, and so forth. Leveling up will also get you access to things like catapults, and you can also access hero units with their own special abilities. Those units are all trained at a base where you manage resources like gold and magic. For the most part, the process is streamlined to where you don't need to build different structures to train people or gather resources, as everything is handled at the base, including the act of setting up armies.

Songs of Silence mostly takes place on a world map like an RPG, while the movement is more akin to a turn-based strategy game. You click on your group and move the mouse around the map, and a number shows how many action points the group can use before it stops moving or doing anything else for that turn. Entering combat immediately depletes them of action points in their reserves, and you can take control of however many unit groups you want in the map before ending your turn and letting the opponents perform their moves.

There are some interesting abilities present that you don't commonly see in turn-based strategy titles. For one thing, you can have two groups meet up to exchange units without going to the base, mimicking what you would do in a real-time strategy game when you form up and disband groups on the fly. Battles mostly end with retreats, and you can chase down retreating enemies if you don't want them to regroup and try attacking again. Taking down a base requires you to lay siege to it for a turn before you can attack. Once you conquer a base, you can also choose to raze and pillage it instead of taking it over, which has potential consequences in the future.

Troop movement is always done in a straight line, and you can move multiple times to go around objects in one turn if you have the points for it, avoiding the need to burn turns to navigate around something. Unlike other turn-based games, Songs of Silence has no visible grid, and that can be a problem when you try to send troops to a locale that the game deems as an invalid movement. The lack of clarity can lead to frustration, and hopefully this is addressed before the game launches.

When it comes to the battles, the game takes inspiration from two completely different sources. The fights mainly play out as auto-battling sessions where you have no control over where your troops go or who they attack. You simply sit back and hope that things play out in your favor. If you're not content with that, you can use cards to issue more general commands, like summoning special units on the field, powering up troops for a few seconds, or retreating. It doesn't play like a standard card battling game, as your cards always remain in hand, but you are beholden to a cooldown timer before you can play any of them again. While the developers argue that the use of cards is more of an aesthetic choice, that isn't necessarily true, as you get a choice to upgrade those cards or adding new ones to your arsenal whenever you level up.

The choice to make this part of the game an auto-battler is interesting until you realize the developer's desire to ensure that it doesn't take much time to finish a map. It works well enough for those with busy lifestyles, and using cards provides some level of control. The demo didn't provide us with too many cards, and some options were blocked, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of cards are added later and whether you can customize that selection to give the game a deck builder feel.

The presentation thus far is alluring. The illustrations for the character portraits are gorgeous, and the rest of the game takes on that style on a smaller scale. The world map and battlegrounds have a good amount of detail, while the units animate well despite their diminutive size. There's been much fuss made about the involvement of Valkyria Chronicles composer Hitoshi Sakimoto in the soundtrack, and while there weren't many tracks in the demo, what's present shows an epic fantasy style that sits high alongside his previous works.

At the moment, Songs of Silence is intriguing. The idea of creating a strategy game that borrows elements from almost all other types in the genre seems daunting, but the execution works. With a general 2024 timeline set for the game's release, there's plenty of time to iron out things, and we're hoping to take another look at Songs of Silence in a few months to see how it progresses.

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