Sawbuck Gamer

The Silent Age

Glass Houses

The Silent Age captures the isolation of the high-rise.

By Andrew Frisicano • May 7, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

It’s 1972. Joe, a slouching janitor who sports a shaggy coif and a Tom Selleck ’stache, gets a note to see the boss. It’s clear that he’s no secret-Mensa-level Good Will Hunting floor-scrubber, but Joe is sweet and friendly to a fault. When Joe gets a promotion, there’s no title change or pay increase, just more custodial drudgery, because the higher-ups “like to keep a flat organizational structure.” They aren’t just OSHA-flaunting capitalists; they’re also tightwads.

Real trouble comes when Joe finds a trail of blood, leading him to a wounded time traveler, who details a future where humanity has been wiped out. The time machine he hands you looks like a garage-door opener, and it comes in handy as you navigate the puzzles that follow, vaulting Joe from the ’70s to the burned-out, overgrown future.

The Silent Age: Episode 1 is heavy on puzzles where you have to combine one object in your inventory with some other object—which are among the hoariest video game brainteasers. The game has a simple touch interface, and that austerity is matched by its icy atmosphere, which vividly depicts both the isolation of an after-hours office building and the creepiness of a post-apocalyptic future. Though the title probably refers to the latter, it also serves as a comment on the glass-encased high-rises and hushed corridors of the 1972 world. The present and future exist as artfully lit, vacant spaces, and the soundtrack for both is ominous. Ambient droning mixes with the sounds of a thrumming ceiling fan or the flashbulb-like snap of your time-machine/garage-clicker. This free first episode plays through in a few short hours—the developer is seeking donations to fund future installments. The story might be slight, but it’s an elegantly designed trip.

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12 Responses to “Glass Houses”

  1. His_Space_Holiness says:

    Good to see Ringo from Yellow Submarine is getting his own spinoff game.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Joe-Joe was a man who knew his sanitation,
      Gotta keep the office clean.
      Joe-Joe went through time and found a blown-up nation,
      Man it was a messed up scene!

      Get back,
      Get back,
      Get back to where you once belonged!

      Get back,
      Get back,
      Get back here from that future wronged!

  2. This is exactly why I quit IGN…

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Uh, which part exactly was exactly why you quit IGN?

      • WarrenPeace says:

        Maybe it was the flat organizational structure, the custodial drudgery, and the unwillingness to thwart future apocalypses.

        • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

          You’re right about IGN’s unwillingness to thwart future apocalypses… the IGN board of directors have decided they’ll give GTA V a 9.2 review score due to reduced Rockstar ad revenue, when everyone knows the game they haven’t played yet deserves at least a 9.6!

    • Jeremy Parish says:

      It’s pretty shitty to spoof people, you know?

  3. mizerock says:

    [….] “among the hoariest video game brainteasers” — but this is still an intriguing game, in general, right? Cool.

  4. Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

    Joe should stop worrying about time travel and humanity being wiped out, and show some damn pride in his work. Look at that picture: papers and other trash on the floor, a dirty desk… Hell, there’s even weeds and other plant life growing inside the office! Joe is clearly the shittiest janitor ever.
    And he really needs to report that power cord running across the office to OHS. Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility, Joe, even in the ’70s.

  5. Chum Joely says:

    Sorry for the spam, everyone, but I just wanted to let you know that we  are finally ready to vote on our game for the second edition of the Gameological/Steam Game Revue Club, here:

    http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gameological/discussions/2/810922863440245988/

    More details there, but the nominees are:
    Alpha Protocol
    Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Hotline Miami
    Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords + TSLCM
    Penny Arcade: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness III
    Portal 2 (a “best of” selection of user-created levels)

    Hmm, I wonder if I could convince John Teti to put this link up as one of of the “shorts” in the Gameological feed…

    END CLONED MESSAGE

    • Chris Hansen says:

      Is this like some sort of book club for games?

      • Chum Joely says:

        Yep, pretty much. We come up with a list of nominees, vote on them, and then play together and discuss our experience on the forums at the Gameological Steam group (see the link above). The winner this time is Fallout: New Vegas, so we’ve started in on that. Join in if you’re so inclined!

        No particular constraints on your level of skill, you could be an amateur or an ultra-expert (I think I’m about a 3-4 out of 10 on that scale, at least for the shooter/RPG genre).