The Silent Kingdom (Demo) | First Impressions | Game Review
Follow the dark tale of a princess who must corrupt her own soul in order to save her people in ‘The Silent Kingdom’, an upcoming indie otome RPG by Lucky Cat…
Currently, ‘The Silent Kingdom’ only has 3 days left of its Kickstarter campaign – so be sure to pledge now while you still can! If you want to try before you buy, there is a free demo available on Steam and itch.io – which I highly recommend playing to get a feel for the game and its mechanics.
The final release of ‘The Silent Kingdom’ will be available on Steam, itch.io, and the Nintendo Switch – so otome fans who aren’t able to back the Kickstarter will still be able to play the game once it’s released – which is estimated by Lucky Cat to be around 2 years away, at the time of writing this review.
☆ Game Name: The Silent Kingdom (Demo)
☆ Developer: Lucky Cat
☆ Publisher: Lucky Cat
☆ Platform: Steam, itch.io
☆ Age Rating: TBA
☆ More information: here!
“The Silent Kingdom is a story-driven, otome RPG where the player’s choices and interactions with other characters set the narrative…”– The Silent Kingdom (Kickstarter)
You’re a badass warrior princess, living a life of luxury in your father’s castle. You wake up one sunny morning to the familiar voice of your maid, Denise, but you quickly get the sense that something is a little… off.
Brushing your confusion aside, you start your day like any other – but the oddities continue to pile up, until you can no longer ignore the pervasive feeling that not everything is as it seems. Determined to get to the bottom of your mysterious circumstances, you’re forced to choose between your pure, good intentions, and doing what’s necessary for your people…
It takes a while for the core concept of the game to reveal itself, but I never felt frustrated with the lack of information presented. Instead, I was consistently engrossed in the plot, keen to figure out what exactly was going on in the castle, and where the story was going to go next.
The demo also effectively introduces the two base-game love interests (the stretch goal to add the Gladiator has been reached, but he’ll be added as DLC), who both get ample opportunity to establish their characters, as well as their prospective dynamic with the main character.
Despite the limited cast, both love interests were intriguing enough that I didn’t feel anything was lacking from there only being two of them. Interestingly, they’re described as being party members on the Kickstarter page – rather than love interests – which suggests that the romance with these characters will be less prominent than the non-romantic plot.
However, as I said previously, the non-romantic elements of the game are entertaining in their own right, and I’d be hesitant to dismiss the entire game for not putting the romantic plot at the front and centre of the story. Besides, even in these early stages, there were distinct, memorable scenes with each party member that definitely fit classic otome tropes – so I’m hopeful that the romance will continue to bloom throughout the remainder of the game.
There are two base-game love interests in The Silent Kingdom, with a third added as DLC, but as the additional character doesn’t feature in the demo, I’ll only discuss the original two: the alluring and mysterious magician, Seneca; and your loyal childhood friend, Chrono.
Main Character (MC)
☆ Name: Customizable (Default: Erinys)
☆ Pronouns: She/her
☆ Appearance: Not customizable (except for equipping armour)
☆ Voice Actor: N/A
The Silent Kingdom’s protagonist has an established backstory and partially-defined personality, but the choices you’re presented throughout the game offer several different approaches – allowing players to roleplay in a way that tailors MC’s personality to their own preferences.
That being said, I often found that (at least in the demo), assertive choices were typically received more positively, and the way the story treats the protagonist indicates that she should be stoic, and willing to do what is necessary to ensure the prosperity of the Kingdom.
On the other hand, I definitely felt I was able to add my own flair to the character, so there was a satisfying balance of putting myself in the shoes of the protagonist, and viewing the world through her pre-determined lens.
Since the prologue is a fairly contained story, it makes sense that the roleplaying elements will be more restricted in this initial chapter. As the plot progresses, it’s likely that the choices will become more impactful, as there will be a variety of places for the story to go, rather than needing to reach one particular end goal in order to set up the main game.
All in all, I enjoyed playing as The Silent Kingdom’s protagonist, and it seems that her personality growth and the moral implications of the decisions made will tie into the direction of the narrative, so I’m excited to see more of these impactful choices and their consequences in the full release.
☆ Name: Chrono (The Knight)
☆ Pronouns: He/him
☆ Tropes: Deredere / Shota
☆ Dynamic with MC: Chrono is kind, loyal, and unconditionally supportive of MC.
Your sweet, devoted squire and childhood friend – Chrono is a kind, determined love interest who’s willing to follow you, no matter where you go, or whatever deeds you may have to do. He’s much like the archetypal ‘Knight-in-shining-armour’, except he’s your squire… and you’re certainly no damsel in distress.
He’s younger than the protagonist, and lower in the social hierarchy, so the power dynamic between them skews towards MC – however (despite his awkward blushing in some scenes), he’s not a blubbering wreck without her, and he’s perfectly capable of standing on his own two feet.
I love that he manages to capture the appeal of not just the young, tsundere love interest, but also the loyal ‘puppy bf’ archetype, and the reliable, devoted knight (or squire, in Chrono’s case)… all in just the demo. He’s already made my heart squeeze with his sincere sweetness, but I’m still dying to learn more about him in the full release!
☆ Name: Seneca
☆ Pronouns: He/Him
☆ Tropes: Trickster / Flirt
☆ Dynamic with MC: He’s a mysterious figure whose morals are dubious and MC isn’t sure if he’s friend or foe…
Seneca is the polar opposite of Chrono – he’s the tantalisingly dangerous bad boy mage, who seems like a potential antagonist (which just makes me love him even more, really). His dramatic introduction into the story perfectly sets the tone for his interactions with MC moving forward, and I think it’s safe to say that he instantly captivated my attention.
Give me a silver-tongued villain described with snake metaphors and I’ll throw my money at you – guaranteed. He’s exactly the kind of character I love, and every line of dialogue just further cemented him as my Silent Kingdom best boy. He’s mysterious, and consistently portrayed as untrustworthy, but he had some vulnerable moments that suggest he’s more nuanced than just a deceitful manipulator…
“Place yourself in the role of Princess Erinys, whose kingdom has fallen under the yoke of a sorrowful curse. In order to save everything you have ever known and loved, you’ll have to stand against the entire world – and even defy the Goddess herself.
How much weight will a withered kingdom burden your soul? As a princess, will you be loved or hated, betrayer or betrayed? Will you seek comfort in the companionship of others, or will the demise of your kingdom seal your heart away forever?
A path of thorns is waiting. The manner in which you walk it is up to you…”– The Silent Kingdom (Steam)
The free demo for ‘The Silent Kingdom’ consists of the prologue for the main story – with three more chapters (each being longer than the prologue) to be released at a later date. That being said, the prologue forms a satisfying and entertaining mini-story on its own, cutting off at a natural end point that resolved some of the initial mystery, while setting up for much grander adventures to come.
Unlike a lot of otome games – which tend to be character-driven, and rooted in personal emotions and experiences – The Silent Kingdom has a broad perspective that tells a story on a large scale, with emotions generally expressed through actions and decisions, rather than detailed descriptions of the intensity of any given character’s feelings.
Rather than feeling like I was playing in first person – firmly planted in the protagonist’s shoes, and sharing all of her emotional experiences – I felt like I was hovering above – still tethered to the main character, but watching a story unfold that went beyond her own perspective.
In short, it feels more like a classic RPG style of storytelling – the plot focuses on the protagonist, but you’re not experiencing it all through her eyes. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t emotive – even in these introductory scenes, the potential for romance felt just as impactful as more character-driven stories – but it does allow the more horrifying and gruesome scenes to occur without causing an uncomfortable personal reaction.
By shifting the perspective to be more external, the story can explore darker events that would otherwise feel difficult or heavy to read – as the player doesn’t feel like they’re standing in the protagonist’s shoes, experiencing the same things as if they were there, they can distance themselves from the true horror of the events unfolding, experiencing the emotional impact as though it were happening to another person, rather than themselves.
Some otome games focus on personal interactions and a self-insert style of protagonist, which will appeal to players who want to feel like they’re participating in the story, and that the love interests are saying and doing those romantic things with them, personally.
However, other stories shift that perspective outward – where the events are happening to the protagonist, and – while we may identify and empathise with them – we’re not encouraged to feel like we’re the one standing in their shoes.
If you’re an otome player who’s looking for a more personal, dating-sim style of otome game where you can feel like the love interest is falling for you, rather than the protagonist, then The Silent Kingdom won’t provide that self-insert experience.
However, the story itself is enthralling, so much so that I found I was no longer playing it to feel like I was romancing a love interest, but to experience the entire game and story as a fantasy adventure RPG with elements of romance and a dark, intriguing mystery.
To be clear, I don’t think the fact that The Silent Kingdom doesn’t feel like a typical self-insert otome game is a bad thing – the game has a lot more going for it that I personally think is far more important – but I felt it was worth noting for otome fans who prefer the more traditional style, so they know what to expect going into the game.
As The Silent Kingdom is an RPG, rather than a visual novel, there are exploration elements that expand upon the main storyline. Running around, interacting with things and talking to the NPCs, all adds further nuance to the setting, and context for the plot. It enhances the immersive feeling, and allows the writer’s sense of humour and style to shine.
There are several modern pop culture references that are tucked away in interactions with seemingly innocuous objects, and I particularly love the inclusion of real, famous paintings on the walls of the castle. Hint: be sure to interact with some of the objects in each room, even if they’re not sparkling – you never know what you might find!
Essentially, rather than having one, linear storyline that branches for each route, there are many offshoots to the story aspect of the game that are wrapped into the RPG gameplay. You can choose to engage with these extraneous elements if you want to dive deeper into the world and lore (or just laugh at a Portal reference), or you can simply pursue the core of the plot by following the quests as they appear.
However, these ‘extraneous’ elements do contribute to the overall atmosphere – giving The Silent Kingdom a unique charm that only becomes more effective when you remember that the entire game is made by a single developer. You can feel Lucky Cat’s personality shine through these bonus interactions, adding an endearing aspect to an indie game that could quite honestly hold its own against many big-budget commercial titles.
I’ll admit, the controls took me a minute to get used to. I’m used to using a mouse for PC otome games (as they tend to be in a visual novel format), but I quickly realised that The Silent Kingdom is definitely best played with only the keyboard, and no mouse.
There are two keyboard settings available to choose from, but the default requires you to use the arrow keys for movement, and won’t respond if you use the WASD keys. If you want to use WASD for movement, then you can adjust this by pressing [ESC] to bring up the menu, selecting ‘Options’, and then ‘Keyboard Config’. Here, you can select either the default keyboard, or the WASD keyboard.
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a backspace button on the keyboards in this configuration screen. This may explain why pressing backspace doesn’t work as a way to delete letters when customizing the protagonist’s name. Instead, you can try pressing [END], or any of the buttons labelled ‘X’ on the Keyboard Config screen – which is also how you exit the menu screen or go back to your previous page.
I’m including these tips not as a criticism of the way the game is designed, but to assist any prospective players, as it took me a little while to figure out my way around the controls. I will say, however, that by the time I completed the demo (which took around 2 hours of playtime) I was moving around and interacting with the game without hesitation, so it doesn’t take long to get the hang of things.
Still, even if it had taken a while to work out the controls, The Silent Kingdom would be well worth the effort. I loved the inclusion of classic RPG elements – such as skills, items, equipment, and battles – and exploring the map added an extra layer of interactivity with the setting and characters that let me feel immersed in the world, and more of an active participant in the story.
The Silent Kingdom is a phenomenal RPG, with a strong narrative focus and compelling cast. The art is stunning, with a wide variety of maps, CGs, character sprites, and chibi figures that move seamlessly throughout the game’s environment.
I particularly loved that the main character had lots of different poses and animations – my favourites were when she was reclining on a bed after just waking up, and how a small curve appeared at the top of her calves when she walked forward, giving the impression that her knees are actually bending when she moves, rather than stiffly swinging back and forth like two straight sticks.
There’s so much attention to detail that I could easily get lost in the demo for hours, despite this only being a glimpse at what is yet to come. I loved talking to all the NPCs and wandering around to explore the map – and yet I never noticed the background music becoming repetitive, as it often changed, and appropriately peaked at emotional highlights throughout the story – adding to the overall impact of any given scene.
All in all, the comprehensive gameplay elements of The Silent Kingdom combine with the story’s intriguing mystery and tantalising hint at romance, all to create an entertaining experience that will hook you in – captivating not just your imagination, but also your heart.
You’ll like The Silent Kingdom if you like: story-focused fantasy/adventure RPGs (like the Dragon Age franchise); intriguing mysteries that expertly unravel, piece-by-piece; compelling characters that leave you craving more; and competent, brave, proactive otome protagonists who get to be the hero of the story, rather than dating them.
☆ Game Name: The Silent Kingdom (Demo)
☆ Developer: Lucky Cat
☆ Publisher: Lucky Cat
☆ Platform: Steam, itch.io
☆ Age Rating: TBA
☆ More information: here!
Thank you Lucky Cat for sharing the news!
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