Something happened today that was so extraordinary
that it gave me a different vantage point on the secret life of
computers. For some time I had been having problems with my computer
making or keeping an internet connection, so when it fizzled last
night I didn’t think much of it. Little did I know the nefarious
mind of my computer was plotting to send my life into chaos, a small
job surely, on its way to joining its buddy computers and
overthrowing the government.
As a kid I had seen the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, so I
should have realized the signs that Hal and my computer shared a
kindred spirit. In the early morning hours when shadows reign and
dusk is not yet a twinkle, my computer – and I use the possessive
term loosely- dialed 911, the emergency service. When no voice was
on the line, and a call back gave them only static, the police
responded to the location of the call. Perhaps it was my Monty
Python ferocious bunny slippers and my befuddled look that convinced
the police that all was well with the exception of the computer’s
bad behavior. More likely, I was lucky that the lead officer had
some computer expertise, solved the origin of the mysterious call,
and decided I was no more dangerous then the next loon.
I’ve long been aware that the computer was smarter than I am, but
now I saw it taking on a persona all its own. Does it contact other
computers, and they all chat about their naïve humans? I can only
hope mine speaks of me fondly.
Since Orwell’s 1984, terms like “Big Brother” and “Thought
Police” have entered the mainstream vocabulary, with a warning
against the globalization of power and the over reliance on
technology. In Orwell’s work, data was manipulated to reflect
history as those in power wished it to be. Emotions other than hate
and anxiety were a crime, with the government policing the
population for transgressors.
Orwell wrote his book in 1948, and transposed the last two digits
to title his work 1984. In 2004, along comes the adventure game “The
Moment of Silence”, which takes place in 2040. Like 1984, it is the
story of a world power and “Big Brother”. Many people are out of
work because computers have replaced them, and technology is at its
“He sees for you; he
thinks for you; he lives for you, and you don’t have to do anything.
You can’t do anything, and you are already dust before you turn to
There are birds, steel
birds falling from the sky like vultures. They rip out your thoughts
until no more can arise in their place.”
Meet Peter Wright, a successful advertising executive who has
recently lost his wife and child to a fiery plane crash. He sits
alone in his new sparsely furnished apartment, with only a box of
his son’s toys to link him to his painful past. Whiskey and a
virtual computer companion have not relieved the agony of precious
A noise in the hallway, perhaps the elevator ascending, draws him
to press against the door peephole, where he witnesses a police
squad in full riot gear break the door of the neighboring apartment,
and drag out his neighbor. The neighbor’s wife is roughly rebuffed,
and she and her son flee back into their apartment. Then the hallway
is silent and empty once again, except for the little boy’s teddy
bear, which lies bedraggled and abandoned.
As Wright emerges into the world , events occur to shake the
foundation upon which his life has been built, and as we see the
story unfold, so too do we see Wright on a personal journey back
from the barely alive to being a vibrant, resourceful human being, a
warrior for the common man.
The world of Peter Wright is much like ours today, but set forty
years in the future. All countries are united, under one Federal
Republic of Earth. Huge telescreens dot the city, displaying
messages to the citizens about what to eat, how to vote, even what
drug will make them lose weight. A handheld device called a
“messenger” must be carried for identification purposes, and it also
is the means for keeping a running credit tab on all necessary
purchases, including transportation costs and phone calls.
Transportation around the city is accomplished by “sat cars”, which
are driverless taxis, or by an above ground train.
Wright stumbles into an underground world of people who embrace
the past when there was no “big brother” government watching their
every move, and who tout the very ideals that Wright’s current ad
campaign is striving to prohibit. At first he encounters a mad guru
in the park who is prophesizing doom, but is this character really
insane, and how does he know personal information about Wright?
Wright goes on to meet other interesting characters, all adding
to the story with rich and witty exchanges. Clues abound throughout
the dialogue, and some dialogue is occasionally necessary before an
action can take place. The characters come alive when they interact
with Wright and each other, and we get a personal view of their
morals, their needs and their philosophies. Two minor characters
were so well fleshed out that I felt as though I had actually met
Brian, Wright’s friend and co-worker, doesn’t believe in the ad
campaign, but doesn’t care about ideals. He is concerned with making
a living, and making his wife a happy woman. The humorous arguing
with another fellow worker will more than likely bring a smile to
your face. However, he is hiding a past that he doesn’t want others
Mr. Huntingdon is a very old man who remembers what life was like
before all the laws passed that Wright has always believed were
enacted to protect society. Huntingdon too is hiding something. Will
he have the answer for Wright, or will he lead him to his downfall?
Who do you trust in this game?
At first incredulous at the ideas presented to him, he learns
that there are many questions to be answered, and the world’s
government is determined to keep him from discovering those answers.
How he searches for his missing neighbor, and comes to terms with
the two very different worlds makes the story in turn amusing,
frightful and thought provoking.
The story is enthralling, and few adventures can boast depth like
this one does. Dialog is natural, flowing, and often humorous, not
an easy task to accomplish. Some minor flaws in presentation can be
easily dismissed for the sheer genius and overall superiority of
INSTALLATION AND GAME PLAY:
“Maybe he didn’t pay his taxes, or parked wrong, or revealed
Full installation is NOT the default installation, but a simple
click of a button gives you the full install, which copies all
the game files to your hard drive. Upon starting the game for the
first time, you will be asked to insert a Starforce CD key that is
included in the manual. Thereafter the disc will be accessed every
time you start the game.
Quality of your screen display can be enhanced by utilizing
anti-aliasing, accessed from the main menu options, and sound
systems can be selected to optimize audio performance. In addition
there are available gamma control and subtitles.
Movement is entirely mouse controlled, unless you wish to utilize
two keyboard shortcuts: the “M” key brings up your messenger from
inventory, the “H” key shows hidden exits or held down longer, items
of interest. As customary, the escape key takes you to the main
menu, where you can adjust the aforementioned, save, load or exit.
The “M” key is not the only way the messenger can be retrieved from
inventory however; it can be right or left clicked from the
inventory bar at the bottom of your screen. All other items are left
clicked to be used, and right clicked to be replaced in inventory.
While items are in the inventory bar, they can be right clicked for
Theoretically, you span the screen with your cursor until it
touches upon an area that is a hotspot, either something with which
to interact, or to continue movement to the next screen. A left
click will cause you to interact with the item or move to that
location, and a right click will give you a description of an item
when it is available. However, if the game has a flaw, this is it.
It may be difficult to locate exits, and even if you use the “H” to
assist you in finding the location to leave the screen, what is
provided is no guarantee that an actual exit location will be shown.
As I said before, if this game was less than stellar in other areas,
one might grade it more harshly; with the otherwise excellent
presentation, one can look at this as an idiosyncrasy which did not
generally cause frustration except on one or two occasions.
The game is linear, although there is some latitude in the order
of what can be accomplished, and a much wider choice in dialog.
There are two endings to the game, but they don’t branch the story
until the very end.
I played the entire game twice and several scenes many times. On
one out of four occasions I would experience a glitch in one area,
where the computer “Claire” would not appear. This may very well be
computer specific, for I have not heard of anyone else having this
same glitch. Otherwise the game was completely stable.
Puzzles are solved by logic or by inventory. You must have
certain conversations to trigger certain sequences, but there is
always the ability to repeat conversations, or make other
conversation choices. You can speed along conversations by left
clicking. This game is heavy on dialog, and if this makes you run
screaming from the room, I would regretfully say this might not be
the game for you.
“Nice planet! Well take that one!”
A high resolution (1024 x 658) and 3D characters upon 2D rendered
backgrounds make this a very appealing game visually, although
intentionally many scenes are gritty and gloomy, with cold steel
buildings and littered sidewalks, seemingly sanitized of human
personality. The streets are a quilt of patched over potholes. From
the affluent high rise business district to the lower income slums,
you get the impression that life has been sucked out of them,
replaced by the aura of artificial intelligence. A small oasis in
the drab world is a park, vibrant with green grass and a running
stream. Yet even the gloomier scenes have items of interest in them,
and there is no shortage of items to look at., a very impressive
The lip synching of characters and conversation is a bit hit or
miss, some very good and some less so. Some expressions are well
done, and some seem more frozen than realistic. However, you have
almost none of the angular distortion that so often accompanies 3D
characters, and most of their actions are lifelike.
There are numerous cut scenes that contain action sequences, and
these are mesmerizing. How fortunate for purist adventure gamers
that the developers didn’t elect to make the player engage in quick
action movements, and instead you can dawdle at your own pace to
your heart’s content.
“Shipwrecked, drowning in the roar of a sinking world”
The opening score is intense and powerful, worthy of accompanying
a high budget movie. Music throughout the game is artful and
appropriate, although in one scene in the Nuclear Café, you may need
to turn down the volume so you can hear the dialog. Generally
unobtrusive, it sometimes plays to heighten the mood.
Ambient sounds are extremely well done, from the airport, which
actually sounds like a real airport with all the background noise,
to birds singing in the park.
The voice acting is of excellent quality, with professional voice
actors employed for the speaking parts. There are approximately 35
speaking characters with over seven hours of voice recording, which
allows non-linearity in conversations. Each voice is distinctive and
memorable. I wish many games would take the care that this one did
in this regard.
PERSONAL BIAS IF YOU CARE:
“It would be good if grownups had a teddy too, to watch out
I am partial to third person adventure games that are heavy on
conversation and have inventory based puzzles. I look for games with
an intriguing story, and appreciate it when humor is inserted into
some of the game. I like a powerful soundtrack. To be picayune, I
also appreciate music or pictures from the game playing during
installation, so I don’t stare at a slowly filling block. This game
has all the aforementioned qualities which I like. If you feel
likewise, then I think you will very much enjoy this game. To put it
into perspective, the game reminded me of a cross between The
Longest Journey and Blade Runner.
JUST THE FACTS:
Mouse controlled third
person adventure game.
Puzzles are logic or
The game is heavy with
dialog, some of which is necessary to move the game along.
There are no tile
puzzles, no mazes, and you can’t die during the game. There are no
timed sequences, but you may have to be quick with the click on one
You may save as often as
you wish, and in addition there is autosave, so you don’t have to
search for your last save, but restart the game where you left off.
The game uses Starforce.
I experienced no difficulty with installing or playing, except a
minor glitch – I think this was possibly due to my computer, as I
have not heard of anyone else experiencing the same glitch.
“Any information that has no sources or written accounts
becomes entirely subjective. It only exists in people’s heads, and
as it passes through generations, facts become memories, and
memories become stories. Stories finally end up as myths. That’s how
facts slowly enter the realm of fantasy until no one knows what part
of them is true.”
Despite the somewhat strange location of exit hotspots, I believe
that this was the finest adventure game to appear in 2004, in a year
where there were other good, solid adventures. The well crafted
story, exciting score, artful graphics, realistic dialog and well
fleshed out characters make this game memorable.
design copyright ©