Silent Footsteps Review
I would recommend Silent Footsteps to those who enjoy a quiet, thoughtful mystery with reasonable puzzles and a good story. You are really “there” in its landscape of still photos.
Frostlind Games is an indie development studio that is a team of one. Kim Frostlind wears all the hats: writer, designer, photographer, programmer, publisher, publicist and voice actor. Inspired by the Carol Reed Mysteries created by Mikael Nyqvist of MDNA Games, she set off on her own creative adventure and has published her first game, Silent Footsteps. She is quick to credit Mikael as a mentor and it is inspiring to see an experienced game developer sharing his wisdom with someone newer to the business.
Silent Footsteps is a 2D point-and-click mystery that is constructed from still photographs. It is played from the first-person view of Rebecca. She receives news that her childhood friend, Nikki, has died and named her in the will. Armed with a set of keys and a cryptic note suggesting that she “follow Nikki’s footsteps”, Rebecca sets off for Nikki’s apartment to see where the footsteps lead. Her journey becomes one of finding and following a set of logical clues that lead her to a variety of locations. It soon becomes clear that the circumstances surrounding Nikki’s death need to be reassessed and, as Rebecca uncovers more details, the mystery deepens.
I admit that I am usually drawn to games that feature surreal landscapes rather than photorealism. Thus, I overlooked Silent Footsteps when it was first released last year. In hindsight, this was a mistake on my part. With a camera and an artistic eye for editing, Frostlind Games has created an environment that feels incredibly real and is interesting to explore. Nikki’s apartment is in a state of disarray, as one would expect when the owner leaves without knowing that she will never return. When searching for clues in a forest, paths twist and turn and it is easy to lose your way. When looking through an abandoned ironworks factory, there are many nooks and crannies to peek into even though only one holds an item of interest. The game takes place in Sweden and your sense of travel adventure is enhanced by the fact that only the information you need has been translated to English, with all else appearing in the local language. I am in awe of the level of detail and planning it must have required to create such a well-choreographed gaming experience with still photos!
The soundtrack is perfectly coordinated with the mood of each scene and includes music and ambient sounds. Kim does the voice-overs for Rebecca in a calm and relaxed tone. From the first moment of Silent Footsteps, I felt as if I were traveling with a friend.
One of Frostlind’s goals was to create a title with a “high quality of gameplay” and this has been achieved with Silent Footsteps. The interface is classic for point-and-click, with inventory visible when the mouse is moved to the top of the screen. You navigate between scenes by clicking to turn right/left or go forward/backwards. Hot spots are indicated by a change in your cursor. The space bar can be used to reveal all active areas in a specific scene. To get you started, a brief (but comprehensive) tutorial is available.
Inventory is dragged and dropped to use in the environment and items are highlighted when you find a match. A gear icon appears when a hot spot in the environment requires the use of inventory and a hand icon appears when an object can be taken.
Rebecca also keeps a Notebook for adventurers to use when stuck. My only complaint about Silent Footsteps is that, if one does not exercise self-control, it is too easy to use the Notebook and click to reveal “extra hints!” The “what to do next” list is quite handy when you finish a section and are not sure how to proceed. It saves the player from the guesswork of revisiting multiple locations, hoping for inspiration. As far as “extra hints,” I resisted temptation as best I could!
When you exit a scene, you are returned to a map to choose your next destination. The map is built as you play, with new locations added as they are revealed through clues. In the beginning, the map is sparsely populated and it grows to include quite a few destinations, over time.
Puzzles are varied. While some are “find and use,” others require pattern matching and locating clues in the environment. These were not terribly difficult and kept me engaged throughout the story. The interface is designed so that you will not need a pencil and paper to track clues or work through puzzles involving letters or words. Last, but not least, there is an explicit save feature with more slots that one could ever use.
Frostlind Games has done an outstanding job on this first release. I would recommend Silent Footsteps to those who enjoy a quiet, thoughtful adventure with reasonable puzzles and a good story. I lost track of time (which is a good thing when it comes to gaming!) but I believe the game can be completed in around 3 hours. It felt like just the right length… not too short and not too long. At the end, when all is revealed, I felt a real sense of satisfaction.
Silent Footsteps can be purchased at the Frostlind Games website. A free demo is available to those who wish to “try before they buy.” Distributing the game through additional channels, such as Steam and itch.io, is in the works.
Kim is currently busy with her camera and working on a new adventure. I look forward to what Frostlind Games comes up with next!
(find out more about our grading system)
+ Classic point-and-click adventure with an interesting mystery to solve
+ Game draws to a satisfying conclusion and resolves open plot issues
+ Photography, coupled with the soundtrack, create a true “you are there” experience
+ Interface is designed with the gamer in mind. It is easy to use and makes sense.
Processor: Pentium 1000 or higher