It seems a little odd to instantly undermine your game’s central selling point. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what’s happening with Square Enix’s new title.
The Quiet Man, which is due to release on PC and PlayStation this November, centres on the journey of a deaf protagonist as he searches for a kidnapped “songstress” in a dark city. According to the game’s Steam page, one of the key features of the game is that players can “experience the world in the way Dane does” – in other words, without sound. How strange it is, then, that the game is receiving a post-release update which will add sound and speech on a second playthrough.
The optional mode, which was revealed in a recent Japanese live stream (via Gematsu), is due to arrive one week after the game’s release. The Quiet Man’s Steam page description explains that the first playthrough will have “very little distinct audio and no subtitles,” leaving it up to players to “make up [their] own interpretation of the story”. The second playthrough, therefore, is supposed to reveal the “truth” by introducing the full dialogue.
From the information released so far, the update seems a little odd. It means losing the game’s key feature, but in turn could interest players who want to discover the full story – and other options they could have taken.
To me, it does seem a little jarring – as deafness is hardly something that can simply be turned on or off for many people in real life. Moreover, will the game mechanics become boring when the game’s unique theme – a lack of sound – is removed? Dare I invoke its name, but the game sounds ripe for ludonarrative dissonance (when a game’s story and mechanics clash).
It’s obviously difficult to form a judgement without trying The Quiet Man, so I’ll be intrigued to see whether this is handled well when the game is released on 1st November. Sounds strange.