The Quiet Man (Playstation 4 Review)
Sensory deprivation can be a powerful tool. While it won’t turn you in to Daredevil, it can enhance other sense by removing focus. In art, it can force you to appreciate work from a different angle. Even for brief moments, the distinct lack of a stimulant can make a world of a difference. It’s responsible for the deafening silence in horrors that gives way to those moments you can hear every minute heartbeat. It’s also responsible in highlighting the seemingly innocuous body language during everyday conversation. And in The Quiet Man’s case, it shines a massive spotlight on why you probably shouldn’t just cut a key stimulant out without serious consideration.
The Quiet Man is a tale of loss, pain, and missing human connections. Our protagonist, the seemingly deaf Dane, is an enforcer for an American gang. Dane is thrown into reliving traumatic experiences surrounding his youth after a young singer, Lala, is abducted. From there the details of Dane’s childhood slowly unravel and we discover more and more about Dane’s past. It actually sounds pretty good on paper, but in execution it’s terrible.
Thanks to a distinct lack of sound outside of Dane’s initial fight with a local gang, the entire game plays out in silence. Even when Dane clearly understands what’s going on and communicates in return through sign language. This results in the player missing out on key details and an overall disconnect from whatever the game is trying to convey. There’s an extra slap on the face at the end in the revelation of the last act that urges you to replay the game with audio to get the most out of the experience.
The slap wouldn’t have as much sting if it weren’t for the atrocious gameplay. When it comes to actually coming to grips with The Quiet Man, the ropey visual guide feels like a gimmicky fumble in the dark that would leave a teenage boy disappointed. Neon lights react to your inputs, but it’s never elaborated on that some inputs require a follow up to execute an attack or what the powered up aura actually does. This means that you’ll stumble through the unending tirade of rooms and corridors filled with various gang members. Each punch feels like a half-hearted fist thrown into a cheap memory foam pillow. It’s shallow, unenjoyable, and returns to the horribly rigid form within seconds. Even the choreographed sequence leave much to be desired.
There’s certainly a missed opportunity when it comes to the more controlled fights, with many of them acting out in game even though one of the very few draws is The Quiet Man’s attempts to revitalise Full-Motion Video (FMV) sequences. It’s certainly a missed opportunity to use the FMV as an opportunity to act out these moments that would have added an extra punch as opposed to the rather muted in game collisions, pun partially intended. The transitions flounder wildly between effective and jarring that never quite steady.
I can’t really say much else about The Quiet Man. It’s short, poorly thought out, and ultimately a waste of time. It could have been something brilliant. It could have been an amazing vessel for the struggles of growing up deaf or an exercise in constructing a story without audio. Instead it feels like a game with such weak execution that they felt it necessary just to make everything sound horrendously muffled and unbelievably janky.