Silver Chains

Imagine waking up on a stormy night to discover that you crashed your car into a tree. Nothing looks familiar. You’re lost and desperate for help. You spot an ominous-looking mansion down the road, so you walk toward it. As you approach the front door, you notice someone in a semi-lit room on the top floor. Your heart’s pumping fast, it’s dark, and you’re scared. You’re not experiencing a nightmare or hallucination; it’s Silver Chains for the PlayStation 4. This intense adventure-horror developed by Cracked Heads was released in late January of 2021 and offers a palette cleanser to a console that provides a catalogue full of first-person shooters, RPGs, and annual sports titles.

It appears to be the early 1900s, judging by the vehicle you crashed. The mansion is run down and seems abandoned for quite some time. The walls and stairs are falling apart. The hardwood floors and wooden staircases creak and crack as you navigate this godforsaken place. Most of the furniture is covered by sheets, but some rooms give the impression they were recently occupied. Your name is Peter; An Englishman, judging by your accent. It quickly becomes evident that this abandoned mansion is haunted, and you’re trapped inside. Adding to this terrifying scenario is that whoever (or whatever) is haunting this mansion knows who you are and is trying to communicate with you. In your quest, you must not only find a way to survive and escape, but you must also uncover clues that fill the gaps in your most precious memories. So, pop on your deerstalker (à la Sherlock Holmes) and explore this spooky estate at your own risk.

Let’s start with the visuals. This game’s graphics are average for the PS4. The big old house is realistic. The textures are detailed and the framerate is smooth. At times, I felt incredibly immersed in this eerie environment based on the visuals alone. However, my first glance at the character named “Mother” was comical. This ghostly figure reminds me of that creepy character from the Momo challenge that circulated social media several years ago. Initially, I was underwhelmed by “Mother.” I was expecting more elaborate ghosts and goblins to be lurking, but don’t get me wrong, “Mother” is scary as hell!

Silver Chains isn’t bursting with colour, which is appropriate given the genre. It’s a gloomy environment, so make sure that you’re careful adjusting the screen brightness settings. Otherwise, this ramshackle house may be too dark to find clues, despite the bright light provided by your lamp. Also, I’m not a fan of the font. Given the amount of reading involved, I’d like some choice here. Overall, this title is visually appealing but nowhere near the top tier quality of the PS4.

In terms of sound, this title hits the mark. The sound effects are crisp and exciting. Everything from the thunder clapping, footsteps thudding, doors slamming, objects breaking, and voices shouting; Cracked Heads deserves praise here. My only complaint is that sometimes the music stops abruptly instead of fading off, making for a more fluid auditory experience. It was odd to go from loud-intense music to nothing because I simply changed my location or interacted with an object. This situation didn’t happen often, but it stuck out like a sore thumb when it did. While on the topic of music, the sound team provides an impressive and terrifying score. The music alone made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Overall, the sound for Silver Chains passes with flying ghosts… excuse me, flying colours.

Let’s talk about the gameplay. The controls are minimal and are easy to learn. Peter can walk, run, crouch, carry and point the lamp, activate a glow-in-the-dark monocle, and interact with various objects within the environment. There is no combat anywhere to be found. Silver Chains is not that kind of experience. It’s primarily a visual exploration, so you’ll rely heavily on the analog sticks to navigate and find clues. I want to bring your attention to the zoom feature; using this function effectively can be the key difference between advancing the story and wasting hours doubling back looking for clues that don’t exist. The gameplay is simple and would be easy to pick up and play after a lengthy hiatus. However, this style of gameplay is disengaging and lacklustre for someone like me.

This game as an “adventure-horror” seems a bit misleading based on my experience with it. In other words, there’s not much adventure, but there’s a decent amount of horror. The excitement and reward here are getting to the cut-scenes or being randomly startled by the spectres that roam around. There was simply not enough interactivity for my taste. Aside from playing a grand piano, moving a bookshelf, or interacting with some other objects necessary to advance the story, the rest of the environment consists of inanimate objects. As a result, I didn’t feel as engaged as I would have liked. While I was genuinely frightened at specific points of the experience, I feel like these moments were infrequent and weren’t enough to make up for the lack of activity in this one.

The time I spent playing this game took me away from the entertainment I could have had with other better games. It’s hard for me to recommend Silver Chains over much more enjoyable titles. However, if you’re in the mood for something cerebral and you’re a big fan of the adventure-horror or survival genres, I would recommend what Cracked Heads offers here. Brew up a hot tea, turn the lights down low, plug in some good quality headphones, and prepare to be spooked.

Silver Chains scores a 5/10 despite the mini-heart attacks from “Mother.”

~~Eric Collins~~

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