Silence is a plane of existence on the cusp between life and death, and it was originally introduced back in 2009's The Whispered World, when it was known as Silentia. It's not an idle change. Just as its name has shifted from its Latinesque form to simple English, so too is the world itself now more approachable for players wishing to test themselves against its many puzzles. Sometimes, in fact, it pushes that accessibility to extremes, and also pushes some of its characters off the stage too soon, but its lush imagery and interactive elements usually yield an escape as welcome for players as the world of Silence does for its heroes.
Silence--the game--is The Whispered World's sequel, even if it never explicitly announces itself as such, and it insists on complicating its narrative with references few newcomers will understand. However, it's not too big of a problem. Early on, Silence does a beautiful job of communicating its major themes while Noah, the Whispered World's protagonist, comforts his frightened sister Renie by telling her of his days in Silence as Sadwick the depressed clown. Soon after, the bombs send them back to Silence, and the two siblings' affection for each other grants this chapter many moments that pack an emotional punch the The Whispered World never really delivered.
Yet Silence breaks up possible monotony by injecting some physicality into the mix. Sometimes Noah needs to overturn heavy slabs of concrete with steady tugs of the mouse; at other times, he balances on spinning globes while you nudge his center of gravity into place with a meter. Noah's caterpillar friend Spot, who can inflate into a ball or lay as flat as a coin, usually comes into play in the tougher spots, but even there the challenge is often one of timing rather than of mental dexterity. Some of the best moments were those when the puzzles themselves become part of Silence's visual poetry, as when Renie traces out constellations using a shard of glass and the glow from a lighthouse.
I'm convinced true brainteasers would spoil such moments rather than enhance them. Removing the possibility of frustration allows the puzzles to work hand in hand with Silence's cinematic angles and lovingly painted backdrops to create moments of emotional power that the 2009 outing never reached.
Appropriately dreamlike with its narrative that shifts from one strange moment to the next, Silence bounds from powerful emotion to powerful emotion in its last couple of hours, and there's a sense here that these are the feelings that developer Daedalic wanted to stir the first time around. The story, in fact, ends on a final choice that's a little too close to that of The Whispered World. Despite this, it still works. I saw from a mile away from what was coming, and even so, in the story's final moments, I could only sit there in stunned, thoughtful silence.