Children of Silentown is an endearingly moody Tim Burton-inspired adventure

“Don’t ever go into the forest.” If someone was to tell you that, they’ve probably got a pretty good reason for it.

That’s the warning issued to Lucy, the main protagonist in Children of Silentown, which is released on January 11 on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch.

Lucy is a young girl who lives in a village deep in a forest. The forest itself is inhabited by monsters, so it’s made perfectly clear to Lucy that she should never stray from the village.

Life is happy enough for Lucy, at least during the day, as she hangs out with her friends and helps her mother out. At night, though, she has awful nightmares and hears growling coming from the forest.

Although Lucy is in no hurry to head out and see what’s making those noises, a tragic event occurs – without spoiling anything – which leaves her with no choice but to enter the forest and face whatever it is that lurks within the woods.

Children of Silentown – Trailer

Children of Silentown is a point-and-click adventure, but it’s one that – in case it isn’t already obvious – has a much darker tone than most other games in the genre. This is almost entirely down to developer Elf Games and art studio Luna2, both of which collaborated to create the game.

Originally starting life as a short animated movie, the game’s art style was heavily inspired by the animated movie Coraline and the work of Tim Burton, something that’s immediately clear as soon as you start playing (or even from watching the trailer above).

“We wanted our characters to look both cute and creepy at the same time,” character and background artist Francesca Presentini said in a recent behind-the-scenes video for the game. We can safely say mission accomplished, because Lucy and her pals are endearing but unnerving.

It would be one thing to simply pull off a straight point-and-click adventure and rely on the art style to get the job done, but Children of Silentown adds some interesting mechanics to proceedings to ensure it’s more than just a pretty face (albeit a pretty creepy one).

Perhaps the most unique gameplay mechanic is the ability to collect songs as you progress through the adventure. By gathering new songs and teaching Lucy how to sing you can use these songs in different situations to solve certain puzzles.

What’s more, the game has multiple endings, and the number of songs you manage to successfully learn along the way has a direct impact on which conclusion you end up getting. Not happy with the way things work out? Go back and gather more ditties to make sure next time it goes differently for you.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a point-and-click adventure without some truly fiendish puzzles, and Children of Silentown is no exception. In true adventure game style, each of the many items you collect serves a specific purpose, so it’s important to collect as much as you can.

The art of combining items also plays a part in proceedings. Some of the items you collect are practically useless on their own, but combine them with another and you might be able to figure out certain puzzles. To break into someone’s house, for example – it makes sense in the plot, don’t worry – you have to combine a leash and a pair of shears. Some may find these puzzles a little on the challenging side, but they perfectly fit the dark story and experimentation should see you right.

To say any more about Children of Silentown would be venturing too far into spoiler territory. This is a game whose point-and-click gameplay isn’t just a case of finding the next item you need to progress to the next part of the game, but one where each solved puzzle and each learned song is another step closer to finding out more about the game’s story and its secrets.

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At its core the game is about Lucy and the fact that her village is surrounded by a monster-infested forest. However, as art director and game designer Fabiola Allegrone explains, that’s just the foundation of something more meaningful.

“From a concept as simple as that, we tried to create a story that could live on many levels,” she explains. “We wanted to create a story where every bit could be an additional piece to the puzzle the player has, to help them unveil how the town and the forest came to be.”

If this is a puzzle you fancy solving for yourself, Children of Silentown is out digitally on January 11 on 11 for Switch, PlayStation and Xbox as well as PC (Steam, EGS, GOG). There’s also a short prologue available on Steam for free, if you want to try it out first and see if you (point and) click with its dark yet endearing narrative.