Children of Silentown’s eerie art and music-based puzzles are more than a Tim Burton homage

Fear of the dark.

Image via Elf Games

Point-and-click games aren’t uncommon in the indie scene, but every now and then, developers create their own unique and innovative takes on the genre that make them stand out. In the case of Children of Silentown, developed by Elf Games and Luna2 Studio, the combination of its delightful music-based puzzles with the Tim Burton-inspired eerie art style makes it a heartfelt adventure worth experiencing. 

Fear and Silence

Image via Elf Games

Children of Silentown takes place in the eponymous village of Silentown where fear and silence are the words most present in the inhabitants’ minds. The forests surrounding the village are full of monsters who snatch people away. To stay safe, the inhabitants of Silentown vowed to stop making noise and not go out after dark. Even so, the disappearances never stopped. The story has obvious roots in the stories and folklore we heard as kids from our families to keep us from staying out after dark. This gives players an immediate connection to the main character as we are put in the shoes of a young protagonist hell-bent on unraveling this folklore.

Lucy, the protagonist, is a normal pre-teen who spends the day playing with friends and doing chores for her mother. But when a disappearance affects her own family, she takes it upon herself to solve the mysteries of the forest and her town. I genuinely felt invested in the characters’ heartfelt stories and wanted to know more. From a boy losing his close friend to an old man reminiscing about childhood, there’s always a story to hear. Lucy as a character also had depth as her curiosities about the secrets and mysteries surrounding the forest and Silentown aligned with my own.

Image via Elf Games

Throughout the game, Lucy learns various musical notes and it is through these she unravels various secrets. Learning these musical notes helps Lucy to trigger repressed and broken memories of Silentown’s inhabitants, clear certain obstacles, as well as find out the story behind some objects. Additionally, these musical notes lead to different types of puzzles you need to solve in order to make the memories and stories much more clear. For example, singing a specific musical note can trigger a broken memory of an inhabitant and Lucy must bind it back together through a sewing puzzle. These puzzles are simple early on but get more complex in the latter stages. But, hearing Lucy’s pleasant musical notes does spark a sense of hope before starting them.

A Spooky View

Image via Elf Games

The art style is one of the prominent features of Children of Silentown and enhances the game’s dark and emotional narrative. The characters, for example, have eyes without pupils that evoke a ‘creepy but cute’ vibe while also appearing emotionless. It is as if they are haunted by something unknown and have no idea what to expect. Their dull and somber faces, combined with a gothic aesthetic, showed the obvious Tim Burton influence. The details in the houses and other structures were astounding and made exploration a delight. 

A Melodic Adventure

Music is at the forefront in children of Silentown and is a crucial factor in setting the game’s tone and how the story plays out. The piano-based music is present throughout the moments when Lucy explores the village and the forest. With the mental state of the town’s inhabitants, the music could be described as frighteningly beautiful. It brought a feeling of both hope and uncertainty, which resonated perfectly with the characters’ moods and emotions. The atonality during the more horrific sequences also made the overall vibe of tension. 

And the music is a key part of what makes Lucy an interesting protagonist as it is an integral part of her identity. Lucy loves to sing and, through this singing, she bonds with her mother, whom she is very close to. But, the village’s staunch stance on keeping the sound to a minimum made Lucy question their motives and made her much more focused on her music. The musical notes you will be collecting are key to progressing the story and have a direct impact on which ending you get. Although I personally wasn’t satisfied with the ending I ended up with, it did make me want to begin another playthrough. 

Image via Elf Games

Children of Silentown’s somber and emotional story makes it a compelling narrative to experience. The overall game design, especially the Tim Burton-esque art style and piano-based melancholic music, are the superstars here that make it truly immersive and engaging. In essence, they differentiate it from being just another indie title into something unique and well worth playing. While there are certain frustrating moments, particularly with figuring out the puzzles, they don’t ever feel repetitive. And with a curious and charming protagonist in Lucy, this point-and-click adventure game feels like a breath of fresh air.