Chronique des Silencieux Review – Making The French Connection

I’ve got a big weakness for a good mystery – but I’ve got an even bigger one for an adorable protagonist. I’m not ashamed to admit that this is what initially drew me to Chronique des Silencieux (Chronicles of the Silenced), a point-and-click mystery adventure from developer Pierre Feuille Studio. I saw Eugene, the gawky, recorder-toting, often sweat vest-clad rookie private eye who serves as the tale’s protagonist, and I knew I just had to play this game. And Eugene being what first drew me to Chronique des Silencieux proved a reflection of what is arguably the game’s greatest strength: its characters.

Set in France during the 1970s, Chronique des Silencieux’s story kicks off when Eugene travels to visit his uncle Flavio following the death of his mother. Before he knows it, Eugene is drawn into the world of brothels, drug trafficking, underground resistance, post-war rebuilding, and, most of all, secrets. Tasked with revealing the past of a secretive old man, Victor, Eugene must pick up his trusty recorder and collect testimonies, examine documents, interview witnesses and more. By finding contradictions and revealing the truth, Eugene might just be the one who finally gives a voice to “the silenced.”

Get your recorder out and interview witnesses!

There are so many compelling characters to meet as Eugene explores the beautiful French town in which he finds himself. There’s Yves, a gruff but surprisingly caring detective who takes the young private eye under his wing. There’s Madame Solange, a brothel owner dedicated to maintaining the appearance of high society, and the various girls in her care. Catherine, Victor’s daughter, is an opinionated firebrand with a passion for the truth. And at the center of it all is Victor, a man with many secrets – and just as many reasons for keeping them.

And these are only the central characters! Even the more minor figures Eugene encounters are fascinating – longtime Bordeaux residents who remember the town as it was before the war, disconnected tourists simply passing through, Victor’s friends and colleagues, and more. The world these characters inhabit is also a beautiful one, richly designed and brought to life in a way that feels real and powerful. Over the course of the game, you actually get to see the neighborhood – and Eugene – grow and change as time passes, which is a really nice touch. The art style of the game is lovely as well – bright and colorful with a simple but memorable style that reminds me a lot of the Professor Layton series.

Victor is full of secrets (but his hair is not big)

Gameplay-wise, Chronique des Silencieux is… interesting. The developers had a lot of great ideas, and, at first glance, they seem like good ones. Unfortunately, while some worked well, others did not. The team behind Chronique des Silencieux stated their intention was to make a game were you really felt like an amateur detective, with no handholding, and this is what they did – both for better and for worse.

On the good side, there’s the conversations. You can talk to pretty much every character about every topic, which not only gives them a lot of depths, it also leads to some red herrings that don’t feel forced. And the conversations feel real – people will say irrelevant things, and won’t necessarily trust you immediately just because you’re a detective. I also liked the wide variety of documents used as evidence, including newspapers, scribbled notes, letters, receipts, and more. It made the investigations feel very realistic, with the idea that a crucial clue could be hidden in the smallest line of text.

I love the “cork board with pins and thread” aesthetic used when making connections

Once the evidence has been collected, solving the mystery relies on finding contradictions between witness testimonies and evidence documents, and then using those contradictions to form hypotheses. Once you have enough correct hypotheses, you can confront even the most guarded of witnesses and reveal their secrets. This is a good idea in theory, but unfortunately fairly frustrating and unwieldy in practice. Because there are simply so many lines of testimony, and so many documents (and every single line of text on a document, even something as innocuous as a signature, can be chosen as a possible contradiction) it can be super overwhelming to sort through it all and find the proper contradictions. 

Not helping is the fact that sometimes, what seems like a totally valid contradiction simply isn’t accepted as one by the game. And while there is a hint system – you can ask Yves for advice – the number of hints available is extremely few, and you can easily run out long before you’ve actually solved the case. Plus, every single time you ask for a hint, it decreases your final score for the chapter.

Madame Solange is your first “opponent,” and she’s a tough one

The confrontations against witnesses, where you have to develop hypotheses to unlock their secrets, can also get frustrating. You have to pair the right topics with the right verbs, and once again options that you would think should work simply don’t. While the game wants you to use inductive and deductive reasoning, there were some times I found myself simply trying out every subject and verb combination until I stubmled on the right answer. And there are no Yves hints available in this section, so it’s really easy to simply get stuck for ages if you can’t find the right hypothesis.

Chronique des Silencieux was originally developed in French, and the French to English translation is definitely imperfect in parts. This can be especially annoying in a mystery game, where dialogue is so important. There were several times when I missed a piece of evidence or failed to make a connection because of a poorly translated line. I think the translation definitely needed a bit more polishing before this game released. There’s also a few ongoing bugs, most notably random artifacts appearing during particularly crowded or visually intensive scenes, although the developers are committed to working on them and have been releasing regular updates. Still, I think Chronique des Silencieux could maybe have used a little more time in the oven before debuting.

This safe was a puzzle I struggled with for quite a while

Overall, Chronique des Silencieux is a really strong concept that unfortunately stumbles somewhat in execution. There’s a great mystery story filled with interesting characters at its heart, but it is dragged down by frustrating gameplay mechanics, a lack of guidance, and a somewhat messy translation. With a little more work, I genuinely feel that Chronique des Silencieux could become a top-tier mystery game that I would recommend to any fan of the genre. For now, though, I can only cautiously recommend the game until some improvements are made.

Kate played Chronique des Silencieux on PC via Steam using a provided review code.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments