Songs of Silence Hands On Impressions: Gamescom 2023 – You Got Me, I’m Listening

One of the games I got to play while at Gamescom 2023, taking place from August 23rd to August 27th, is the turn-based strategy game Songs of Silence that developer Chimera Entertainment is self-publishing. Although the descriptor turn-based strategy game may be a little misleading here. While moving your armies across the battlefield and anything you might want to do inbetween combat is turn-based, but the combat itself is real-time.

But even that doesn’t properly communicate what the combat is. Once you engage in a fight, the two armies will go at each other in an automated battle, and the only way of interacting with the fight that you have are your leader’s ability cards that have small, but noticeable, effects on the battle. Buff a few of your units, command them to attack a certain point, summon additional ones that aren’t part of your starting army, these sorts of things. But seeing as most of the combat still comes down to your two armies just smacking each other until one of them is eliminated, the most important aspect of combat actually takes place before you engage in it.

SongsOfSilence Ohron hero inspect army screen

Like in an autobattler, you can drag and drop units in and out of your army, and create a constellation of units that will bring you to victory. There are multiple factions, leaders within those factions, and units both exclusive to and shared between them. Finding the right combination of units to take advantage of each other’s and your leader’s bonuses, as well as making sure they counter the enemy sufficiently, while also keeping track of their health and your resources, like gold in between encounters, is the core of the game. It’s also worth noting that many times you will be in control of more than one army that’s traversing the map, adding additional layers of planning into how you move across both allied and enemy territory. You’ll have to think and spend a lot of time outside of combat to ensure success every time you decide to fight.

The abilities you can use are depicted in the form of cards. Although the devs made it very clear to me, that this is simply a stylistic choice. Songs of Silence is not a deck-building game, or a card game of any sort. But it’s a visual flourish that’s appreciated and fits in well with the visual presentation of the game.

A look at the game as you navigate the map during your turns

Moving across the map is then why it’s still considered a turn-based strategy game despite the real-time auto-battler nature of the combat. There are multiple factions on the battlefield at any time that can move their armies in turns. Every army has a certain amount of distance they can travel, but you’ll only want to use half of it in most turns, since your army gets into an exhausted state if you use more than that, making you weak to enemy attacks. It’s also worth nothing that if you attack an enemy you won’t be able to move that turn anymore, no matter how many movement points you still have left. You’ll be revealing parts of the map as you move across it, but you’ll always be able to see where your current goal is.

There will be two major game modes in Songs of Silence. The single player, and the multiplayer. In the multiplayer, you will get randomized factions, heroes, maps etc. to go at each other with up to 5 other players. While in the singleplayer, you will follow the campaign carefully constructed by the team at Chimera Entertainment.

the holy knights vs. nature itself

While I don’t know much about the specifics of the story, the universe they have created for Songs of Silence sounds quite interesting. It’s a fantasy realm split into two worlds, one with light and one plunged in darkness, and there are black portals popping up in places that connect the two, corrupting the world of light in the process. Light plays a big role in this world, as it’s the source of magic for the people in it. Even in the world of darkness, they make use of light in their own way. There’s a lot to this universe that Chimera Entertainment have created, from a folk that never received the gift of sight, to creatures that represent an interesting spin on your classic zombie, to machine constructs invigorated with life by magic. But maybe most importantly, there’s the Silence. A mysterious force that threatens to destroy the world, while the waging factions are too distracted by their own meaningless wars. From talking to the team, I got the impression that Songs of Silence will offer an exciting fantasy world with lots of interesting facets to it.

All of this is rendered in stunning illustrations that I wanted to stare at for much longer than I was allowed to in this session. It’s a very unique style. The closest reference I could point to would maybe be something like French illustrator Moebius, but even that doesn’t quite match it. There’s an ethereal quality to it all, and uses of colours that explode of the screen. Honestly, I think it’s impossible to do it justice with words, you just have to look at it for yourself. Every piece of art I saw kind of blew me away and I can’t wait to see more of it.

I keep having to think of Ghibli movies when I look at her for some reason

And despite what the name might suggest, you won’t want to play this game on mute. The score is composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, composer of games such as Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Valkyria Chronicles. What I heard from him is exactly what you’d expect based on his previous work, and it’s pretty solid.

Songs of Silence is a game I’m very interested in after being hands-on with it for an hour, but I’m not entirely sold yet. It’s hard to gauge the full complexity of the game from what I played, which I think it will need, especially if it wants to succeed as a multiplayer game you continue to play after completing the campaign. But I could see the potential for an exciting strategy game set in an unusual fantasy world.

Songs of Silence is available to wishlist on Steam now.

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