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Silverload (PlayStation)

missing cover art
Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  ETJB (447)
Written on  :  Apr 02, 2014
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars
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Summary

Both really good and really bad...

The Good

Silverload has a storyline that could have easily been written by the likes of Stephen King. In the late 19th century, a gunslinger comes upon a simple, hard-working, God-fearing family seeking a better life in the Wild West.

The family was attacked by werewolves, their children kidnapped and all roads lead to a mysterious mining town called Silverload. Naturally, the cynical and grumpy gunslinger goes to investigate, and what does he find? Unspeakable terrorrs, some of which don't involve the horror-themed storyline.

As an early, 32-bit Play Station 1 game, the visual and audio effects are generally quite good. The game creates a truly creepy, gory and supernatural environment. Not all horror-themed games can set the right tone, but this game does so quiet well.

Their is also a well done story element about how the townspeople's moral and economic downfall stems from their racist exploitation and mass murder of an indigenous Indian tribe.

The Bad

The game's mechanics are probably the first bad thing about the game. In the menu screen, it's hard to see what options you are selecting because the color scheme for the approval or rejection of an option is not something simple like green for "yes" and red for "no".

This comes up again in choosing your responses to character conversations. It's hard to know what conversation thread you choose, when the colors and on-screen cursor are not helpful.

The arcade sequences - inspired by Doom - are very difficult and -again - the control format and mechanics are not too helpful or user-friendly. The final battles near the end of the game are almost impossible to successfully complete, and seem to require walking into arcade sequence with perfect health and a large supply of food to restore your health.

While the town has quite a bit to explore, the gameplay is very linear. Picking up objects will cause the time to pass, which impacts where characters are, as well as your own safety.

When night falls, you must secure a safe place to sleep, least you end up on the werewolf dinner special. Basically, you have to pick up the right items in a certain order, within a time limit, or else you will die or the game will be unbeatable.

The time elements may be more realistic then most other adventure games, but it discourages exploration and can quickly become frustrating. You will want to save often, although you have to save over your previous save, another feature that tends to make the adventure aspects less fun.

Lastly, something should be said about the voice work in the game. Some of the characters voices are well done, especially the gunslinger. However, the game also has lots of characters who sound a bit like a stereotypical ethnic or gender portrayal.

The male town barber has very effeminate mannerisms and voice (read: gay) voice. A patron at the bar has a stereotypical Hispanic accent, and another store owner sounds like a stuttering, Woody Allen. Yeah, you get the idea.

Yes, voice work in adventure games is oftentimes a challenge, and these ethnic and gender portrayals may have been an effort to give the characters something memorable for the audience.

Yes, I appreciate that few game companies can hire "big name" film or tv stars to do the character voices. Maybe the Maybe, I am mistaken here, but it does seem like the game relies too heavily on stereotypical portrayals.

It would not have been as annoying, if - when the game was published - cultural diversity and gay/gender issues in games were generally better handled by the game designers.

It is not all bad in the game - the hero's dead parents are native American Indian and he got a great voice and general characteristics. However, the problems with the voice work, does hurt the story.

The Bottom Line

Silverload is a truly scary adventure game, with some tough arcade sequences. It sets the right mood, offers a good supernatural storyline and could have been a classic. The game's problems can be fixed, if the game gets a re-release. Until then, If you can look past the faults with the gameplay mechanics and some over the top, if not stereotypical, voice portrayals, then you will enjoy this supernatural adventure/arcade game.