PAX West 2018 Hands-on: The Quiet Man

I wasn’t quite sure what to make The Quiet Man when Square Enix announced it a few months ago at E3 2018. After getting to play 30 minutes of the game at PAX West… I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

The game’s core concept is an interesting one- the main character, Dane (and you, the player as a result) is deaf. There are only select moments throughout the game where you’ll hear the characters that are speaking to you. My demo started out with a live action scene, Dane gets a small bag from a street vendor and heads towards a less than welcoming alleyway where some members of a local gang are hanging out.

One of the things I loved about The Quiet Man was how seamlessly it transitions between its live action shots and its in-game scenes. As you can see in the trailer above- that alleyway encounter transitions smoothly into it’s third person brawler gameplay. The gameplay is pretty standard fare- you can punch, kick, and grapple your opponents, with the option to perform various combos When I played the game however, which was an early development build, the combat felt a little clunky. During combat, the audio is also mimicking what a deaf person might hear, with the only sounds being those of the impacts made while hitting your opponents. The game doesn’t have any loud bustling soundtrack when you’re walking around beating up gang members. It’s quiet, with only subtle bams and whiffs making their way into your ears.

This is the most interesting part of The Quiet Man– its audio design. Apart from the opening scene of the demo, I never heard any other dialogue. While all the cutscenes feature other characters talking to you, you hear no spoken words and there are no subtitles. The game uses a lot of visual queues to try and clue the player in on what exactly is going on. It’s an interesting story telling concept that makes players think harder about what would normally be a straight forward scene of dialogue between characters.

The story, or what little I could make of it from the scenes I saw, coupled with the way it’s told, isn’t something that I’ve ever seen in a game before and in that sense I applaud Square Enix for trying something new. If this were a longer game, I don’t know if I would be able to stick with it and its quiet, soundless design. However, The Quiet Man isn’t intended to be some AAA beat’em up title- it’s intended to be a cinematic, story driven experience that players can tackle in one sitting, and at a price point of $14.99 I think it could end up being worth the price of admission solely for that fact that it’s something interesting that we haven’t seen before.