There was a time when all computer RPG's were like Diablo, hack and slash battle-fests that concentrated on levelling up your character, killing bigger and harder foes and progressing through the story until you meet the final boss (doom Ed.) and take them down.
Blizzard's hack fest had strength, a pretty solid story that was brought to life with (for the time) some excellent CGI.
Sacred and its various expansions did a good job in continuing this tradition, whilst Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment arguably two of the finest character driven RPG's to date, went in another direction entirely.
It is now the turn of Silverfall to attempt to take up the reigns, to oust games like Neverwinter Nights 2 and it's up against stiff competition. In an industry rife with clones and various fantasy genres all rattling the sabre for your attention, is this game worthy of anything but a quick play.
At the outset Silverfall reminded me a little of Dungeon Siege and that is not a bad thing, since I'm quite fond of the game. You begin the fairly generic story with a decently robust tutorial; it shows you the basics of the game and allows you to cut loose with some powers as the Archmage of the doomed City of Silverfall, against an attack by vicious creatures.
You can customise and create your own character however, choosing from elves, goblins, humans and trolls - each with sliders to change their appearance and skin. As you play the game in the starting area, the Swamp, you'll take on quests and sub-quests following either the path of nature or technology.
It's here that Silverfall diverts into something other than the run of the mill fantasy, the struggle between these two opposing forces is something that actually comes through in the world itself and eventually your city. It will change as you do, as you begin to follow nature or technology, your weapon choices and various elements of the city are going to alter.
You have various skills and powers that are divided up between nature and technology, as you follow the path new skills and powers become available. It's nothing we haven't seen before but it's implemented as part of the story rather than just a gameplay mechanic and that is something pretty good.
The GUI is fairly simple to get to grips with; it doesn't get in the way of the game and all the important abilities are available via the icons or number keys.
It plays a lot like an MMO with the (mobs) groups of monsters re-spawning in an area, levelling up and grinding with various loot drops. When you die you leave a tombstone that you have to collect to get your equipment back, this reminds me of Dungeon Siege 2 and when you take out your Death Insurance (or is that life? ed) then you can re-spawn with all your goodies intact.
You get to choose up to two additional followers/henchmen as the story progresses and you can swap them out for new ones. You don't control them directly but you can issue orders and so on, set their behaviour. Silverfall doesn't break any new ground regarding this, but as I often say: if it's not broken - why fix it?
Silverfall is a fairly generic game in most of these respects, what it does, it does reasonably well. The theme of nature against technology has been used before but in Silverfall they have implemented this story element very well.
Some people have said that Silverfall is a cell-shaded game, it might look cell-shaded, but it's not. The developers have used a graphical trick by adding a thick black line around the graphics. The graphical detail in the game is fairly decent, there are some noticeable clipping errors from time to time on some of the structures, but you're usually so involved in the battles you don't actually care.
It has some superb lighting effects as well as shadows and the spells are some of the most vibrant I've seen in a game to date.
The AI is the typical fairly mob-orientated AI that most RPGs have and the game has a proper physics system so that when a monster is hit by a powerful spell, they flail around in a satisfying manner. The level of animation and character detail is good as well, with the actual battle animations performed with style.
The music of Silverfall is varied, it all has a sweeping epic nature to it and of course it echoes the theme of conflict between nature and technology. Those areas that are in the sway of the machine are definitely more clunky music wise, harsher and some pieces bring to mind mechanics. This is in sharp contrast to the natural themes that are flowing, sweeping pieces.
The sound in the game is good, they have a good range of spot effects and audio pieces, and nothing put me off.
The voice acting in Silverfall ranges from good to bad, there are some really cringe-worthy voices but these seem to be par for the course in RPG's unless you have a massive budget to hire well known voice actors.
For those of you that tire of a single player romp you can take the whole thing online, party up with friends on the net or a LAN. Silvefall has several MP modes and options to set the gaming experience to your liking. You can form a party of friends and tackle the game's story together.
So all in all Silverfall doesn't deliver too bad a game, it's highly generic in places but most fantasy is. It has a good solid engine and there were some quest related bugs still prevalent, one early build had a show-stopping bug that I couldn't replicate in this version so it seems that the developers actually quashed that one.
I found myself being pulled into the game fairly quickly and I did like the way that Silverfall handled the equipping of a character, it was easy to see what I had equipped and what the new equipment would do regarding replacing weapons stats and important information.
If you're looking for a decent RPG until the next big one hits, then you can't go far wrong with Silverfall.