The Silver Lining Episode 1: What Is Decreed Must Be (Available only on PC)
ESRB Rating: Pending
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Phoenix Online
Release Date: July 10th, 2010

Parent Talk: The Silver Lining has yet to be officially rated by the ESRB, but I can’t foresee anything higher than a T.  The adventure lasts around 90 minutes, and is mostly made up of dialogue.  There’s nothing overtly violent or sexual, so I’d feel comfortable giving this to a teenager or someone even younger.  You might as well download it too, given it’s free, and judge whether or not its content is too risqué for your children.  The game unfortunately looks and sounds extremely dated.  I’ll talk about that in a bit.  For now, anything over a Pentium 3 should have no problem running the game.

Sierra was once the king of PC game design.  They were once Blizzard, or at least extremely popular.  OK…maybe not Blizzard, but PC fans loved the company.  They released a series of “Quest” titles that offered hours of fun for any adventure fan.  Space Quest, Police Quest, King’s Quest, and all a blast to play.  These games proved that virtual adventures are awesome.  Today the genre is all but dead.  King’s Quest used to be just that, king.  It was so unlike all other games of the time.  Unfortunately Sierra died, and along with them, the Quest line.  Around ten years ago, a fan tried to resurrect King’s Quest.  It was called The Silver Lining.   Thanks to a mess of problems, both legal and otherwise, the title was delayed that long.  That changed this past Saturday when Activision finally green lighted the project to return.  The Silver Lining is only available via digital download and weighs in at around 400MB.

The Great: It’s great to be back.  After all these years, it’s fantastic to have a new King’s Quest.  The true spirit of the franchise is long dead, but this is as close as we’ll ever be unless Activision releases a new entry.  I’m very pleased to return to this mystical world, though the end result is far from what I hoped for.  Be warned that if you never played the other Quest games, you’re missing out on 80% of the enjoyment.

The Good:

+ It’s free!  That’s certainly a plus.

+ You can do anything with the proper effort.  Major credit must go out to the developers, Phoenix Online, because they’ve proven that the impossible is possible with enough determination.  Congratulations guys; you have accomplished your dream.

The Bad:

- Technically-challenged.  While I love Phoenix Online’s work, the technical aspects are an unfortunate mess.  The audio is bland and boring, the animations are stiff, and look dated.  I understand the ten year length of the project, but our standards increase as time moves along.

- This is an adventure game, right?  That’s the question I kept asking as the next NPC started a conversation.  That’s essentially what you’re playing: a conversation game.  There are no puzzles, only a handful of objects to collect, and nothing else.  You can finish the game in less than 40 minutes, but listening to everyone extends that closer to 90.  The heart is missing; there’s almost no adventure to be found in this “adventure” game.

The Lowdown: I didn’t want to include an “ugly” section; that would be mean.  After all, this is a free download that people devoted ten years of their life to.  Yes it’s sadly dated and barely an adventure game, but the guys proved their willingness to go the distance.  We don’t review games based on our moral code though.  As a game, SL is really dull, and should only be grabbed by those interested or long-time fans.  I can’t stamp it as avoid it at all costs because it’s free, and fan-created.  I say approach with caution, and hopefully the next episode will better serve adventure fans.