They say if you play your cards right, you can have anything you want in this world. In the past couple of years, it seems like this sentiment was seen by the video game industry very literally. Have you ever wanted to play a hand of cards that may decide the fate of nations? Well then, sit down for a hand of Songs of Silence. This title from Chimera Entertainment is a turn-based strategy war game, with a twist.
Starting with Songs of Silence‘s campaign, we take control of Queen Lorelai, whose nation has recently been scoured from the map. You find yourself the leader of a band of refugees and mostly loyal subjects as you try to find your people a place to rebuild, and the opening sections of the game are filled with different characters and obstacles one might expect on a journey such as this.
One ever-present peril is the whispered Silence that threatens the land. The Silence is an ominous curse; a creeping undeath that ruins the lush green forests. There are dangers in the world more terrifying than this, however, and Queen Lorelai is bound to confront them along her journey.
As Songs of Silence is still very much a game in development I’m not going to go deeper into the story here. This is not just on account of spoilers but also for the fact that it may not be finished, so it’s unfair to pass judgment. Just know that you can be assured that from what I’ve seen so far, there is much present to be excited about.
Immediately striking is the visual style of Songs of Silence. The environment has a gorgeous hand-painted look that feels authentic and more interesting than some of the more generic high-definition graphical styles out there. Each of the characters we encounter have stunningly illustrated portraits, continuing to add to the game’s beautiful aesthetic.
What I can tell you a bit about Songs of Silence, though, is how it currently approaches the city sim/base building mechanic. Where contemporaries like Civilization feature elaborate upgrade trees and complex build strategies, Songs of Silence simplifies building immensely. The game world is already filled with settlements and cities to be claimed. The more locations you control, the more vision, income, and resources you have access to.
You will also be able to add supplemental upgrades that will allow you to optimize your resource gathering. These elements are simplistic and easy to understand, the only downside being they cannot be stacked. Each of these upgrades and abilities takes the form of cards that you can play on your turn, and are a resource that you will accumulate as you play.
Locations under your control will build in standing and strength the longer they are in your possession. This in turn allows you to upgrade them further, granting more economic advantage. Controlling more settlements will also allow you to recruit more troops to your cause, with higher-level settlements offering more powerful recruits. This, of course, will be of paramount importance when it comes to sending your troops into battle.
The base building and map-conquering elements of Songs of Silence are just part of a bigger picture. The battles are where this game really shines. If you have ever played Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, think about that, but with less silliness, more tactics, and cool abilities to play with.
The strategy often starts before you reach the battlefield, and this is no different here. At almost any time you can examine an enemy’s battle formation, chosen troops, and weaknesses. Formulating a strong composition of units is essential, especially because you can only have a set amount that you can bring to the field. These restrictions force you to choose your army carefully and add a certain amount of weight to your decisions.
Once you are on the battlefield, the AI takes over and your soldiers begin charging. At this point, you are given powers based on your army’s champion. For example, as Lorelai, you can call down a meteor that strikes and stuns its targets. As a Cleric character, you might get the ability to bless your units with invincibility for a short time. Careful use of these boons may well be the difference between victory and defeat.
Most games of this genre have very simplistic combat which revolves around stats and positioning. With the addition of the extra abilities I’ve just mentioned, combat becomes a much more engaging activity, allowing you to take your units farther with the proper stratagem. The micro-management control is not to the same level as RTS games like Starcraft, but is a good middle ground between the two gameplay styles.
The final part of this trinity of Songs of Silence‘s design is the aforementioned champions. These characters provide the special combat abilities mentioned previously, and more can be unlocked by participating in battles. Your champions will gain experience and level up, allowing them to command more units on the field. Level increases also grant a choice of new abilities, the ability to upgrade old ones, or even options to make your settlements more efficient. These choices are often extremely important and can decide the course of the match.
Songs of Silence is a promising new title with compelling ideas and budding potential. The developers have promised new army types, a complete campaign, and other features to come at launch. I am very excited to witness this game unfold and expect a very positive reception at release! Songs of Silence is projected for a Q1 2024 release on Steam and if you are interested, you can wishlist the game here.
This preview is based on a demo build of the game provided by the publisher.