Posted on 08 Dec 2018 by L Coulsen

The Quiet Man

The Defence

Developer: Human Head Studios, Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

Minimum
Recommended
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 @ 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti
AMD Radeon R7 370
RAM: 8 GB
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 @ 2.7 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 6GB
AMD Radeon RX 480
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 40 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that The Quiet Man is absolutely terrible. So one might be wondering why we are here throwing our two cents in. Well, there are a number of reasons. Firstly, the premise was rather intriguing, and a lot of people seem to have fundamentally misunderstood what being deaf actually means. More importantly, there’s now an extra game mode called Answered which adds back in all the dialogue. So we felt it was worth taking a closer look to see what, if anything, being able to hear people speak adds to the experience.

The Trial

I would to preface this by raising a point about personal bias. Though I am not deaf, I do have certain, personal, issues that have lead to me beginning to learn sign language for myself. Granted, the style I am learning is British Sign Language, so it was of no use to me in making sense of the signing in this game, which is American. But right from the outset there was a certain personal investment that will have inevitably coloured my expectations. So please, do bear that in mind.

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. Even now that the dialogue patch has been added, the game is firmly intended to be played as though you were Dane. So much so, that the Answered game mode is not available your first time out. The game sincerely wants you to play through the 3-4 hours making sense of things based on your own, deductive reasoning skills. How well this works depends entirely on the individual and, clearly, many have been left less than impressed. And, well, simply put, medically speaking, there really is no accounting for taste. That’s not to say anyone is wrong, personal taste is precisely that.

Personally, the entire concept of not being able to understand anything is what most drew me to The Quiet Man, so I found it far from off putting. At the same time, it is hard to deny that the developers’ commitment to their original intention is something that should be commended, regardless of whether you personally appreciate it or not. Originality it something that should always be worthy of praise for the concept, if not the execution. If you can look past the awkward nature of the narrative, you just might find something special from a purely artistic perspective, if nothing else.

Whoa, dude, hold on a second.

One of the common complaints raised is that many find themselves unable to care about what is going on. Even going so far as to ask why, why should we care? And well, the answer to that is the same as it always is. You should care, because you want to. If you don’t, then The Quiet Man is not for you. Which is fine, even the best art does not have to appeal to everyone. Nor should it. Genres and niches exist for a reason, and the world would be quite dull indeed if everyone only ever liked the same things.

Now, it must be said, even though I am extremely fond of the game as a piece of art, the gameplay itself is not something I would refer to as anything more than average. It is serviceable, it works as intended, and even has the potential for a degree of depth. But at no point is any real amount of skill required. Nor is the game long enough to challenge anyone to make much effort to improve. Sooner or later, you will simply brute force your way through. This is the most disappointing part of the overall experience, but was not something that really tarnished the end product for this reviewer.

So where does that leave us? We have an average game, with a gimmick that was too much for many people to look past. Which is a real shame actually. If you can look past your initial reticence and engage with the game on its own terms, there’s a rather intriguing idea beneath it all. The acting during the game’s live action sequences is actually really, really good. With much of it being carried on the actors’ abilities to emote, which all of them do extremely well. Playing through a second time, the inclusion of dialogue only further enhances this.

The horror. The Horror.

The Quiet Man also looks rather nice. Of course, it’s running on Unreal, so it’s hard to not look good. Having said that, it’s not something that will really win any awards for its art design, but it certainly does not fall short in any areas, looking average at its very worst, and really strong most of the time. Some of the visual effects during combat, especially during the more intense story moments, are very pretty. The flowing darkness that surrounds Dane during some of the closing moments are absolutely gorgeous. It reminded me, very much, of the Marvel character Cloak. Who was recently brought to life in an Amazon original series, for those interested. Pretty good show that.

Performance wise, there were no real issues. The game runs solidly, with very few crashes. One big complaint is that each chapter must be completed in one sitting, and story moments cannot be skipped. This is incredibly frustrating, especially for repeat playthroughs, but each chapter is only about thirty minutes, so it’s not the end of the world. But still worth remembering because it’s an absolutely asinine, amateur mistake.

Curiously enough, sound design is where the game really shines though. During the dialogue free game mode, everything Dane hears is very muted, dull thumps when he moves and makes contact with his fists and feet. Whilst speech is presented as various forms of light tinkling sounds, somewhat akin to the noises Tinkerbell makes in the Disney, Peter Pan films. Each character has their own, unique, style of sound though, which is an interesting way of giving them all a distinct personality, as well as informing us greatly about how the protagonist thinks of each character. Lala, a woman who looks like Dane’s dead Mother (and is played by the same actress) has a very soft, sing-song tinkle for example. Which make sense, as she is also a singer. It’s very soft and oddly comforting, emphasising how Dane sees her as a surrogate parent. Whilst his best friend, Taye, is more powerful and almost gruff, showing him as strong and determined.

I'm incognito.

Talking about the narrative is difficult to do without going into heavy spoilers, but there are a few basic things that we can cover. As mentioned above. Dane’s Mother died when he was very young. This lead to Dane being abused as a child, which was presented extremely tastefully, but was still extremely distressing to witness as a parent. It does, however, help to emphasise why he strove so hard to become such a strong fighter. Not wanting to lose anyone else, he effectively fought down all of his emotion to become an unstoppable force of nature. Something which shows through in the way he fights. His movements are quick, powerful and quite brutal. Especially during Focus Mode, which makes him effectively invincible and always ends with a strong knock-down attack if he is not interrupted.

In short, the main crux of the story is that Lala is being threatened by some unknown assailant. This is quickly revealed to be a character that Dane created shortly after the death of his Mother. A tall, imposing man wearing a bird mask and a long, flowing cloak. This is where the hook comes in to play, as Dane later reveals this man to be ‘him’, leaving us to wonder how this character has manifested as a physical entity. The rest of the game going back and forth on this, as we are clearly shown than many of his appearances come purely out of Dane’s mind, hallucinating full blown fist fights. But there are also some clearly real representations of him in some of the people he fights.

Of course, if you cannot look past the lack of sound, it doesn’t matter how well the story is presented, you#re just not going to like it. But one can only hope that, if nothing else, hearing some praise for the game may at least encourage some people to reconsider and appreciate this as a piece of art, if nothing else. I would also go so far as to say it’s worth pushing through the initial play through to experience the full story, written by none other than Man of Action, Creator of the Ben 10 franchise. It’s well worth a look.

The Verdict

All in all, The Quiet Man is an average game, but it is a superb piece of art. If you don’t like it, if you are completely turned off by the lack of dialogue, that’s fine. But there is a lot lurking underneath if you make the effort to engage. Why should you? Well, that’s left entirely up to you. My intention is only to encourage more people to give it a chance. Because the video-game industry already has a slew of copy/paste cash in games, and we need more originality. Especially from a company as large as Square Enix. And hey, it’s the same price as a DVD, so it’s not exactly going to break the bank.

Case Review

  • Concept: Whether it works for you or not, Square Enix should be commended for allowing such a niche game to come to fruition.

  • Visuals: It’s UE4, so it’s not exactly going to look terrible now, is it.

  • Combat: It all works, but is nothing particularly interesting from a gameplay perspective.

  • Length: The game is very short, clocking in at less than seven hours for even two playthroughs.

  • Unskippable Cutscenes: Okay, we get it, this is a narrative focused game, but having to watch several minutes over again because of a crash is just tedious.

3.5 Score: 3.5/5
An average game, but a superb piece of art.

Evidence

  • Controls: Sticking with the theme of keeping everything visual, all of the buttons bring up a small animation to show you what they do. I really like this idea, it firmly reinforces the idea of Dane experiencing the world through his eyes.
  • Settings: Nothing to speak of, which is disappointing. Being able to change the resolution is kind of nice?

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