It’s not very often there’s a review of a game with so much to say but  little idea of how to say it. Perhaps the best way to sum it up would be this: The Quiet Man is quite possibly one of the worst games ever released by a major publisher.

We’re used to terrible indie games on Steam or free-to-play micro-transaction garbage found on mobile phones, but what separates those from The Quiet Man is that those didn’t get published by anyone close to Square Enix’s size or reputation. If you somehow forgot, this game was also given a 1 minute 15 second trailer at E3 earlier this year, which makes it all the more astounding at how we’ve ended up here.

At this point, there should be a story explanation and how well it tells a compelling narrative and creates an immersive world to set it in. Well, unfortunately that’s impossible  because due to the choice made by the developers to omit most of the dialogue from the game (there aren’t even any subtitles), everything is incomprehensible during the 3 or so hours it took to slog through this mess. So, bear with me as I attempt to guess what happens.

(And if you were concerned about spoilers, don’t be. This game doesn’t deserve that.)

You play as a character called Dane. At some point when he was younger his mum was shot accidentally by two older boys fighting about shoes (yes, really). Fast forward to the present day and he’s working for one of those men, Taye, while being interested in Taye’s girlfriend who happens to look exactly like his dead mum, they use the same actress. Then some guy in a bird mask kidnaps her and so Dane sets off to get her back.

Confused? Good, because while the New Game+ dialogue patch will lift some of these mysteries, you have to play through the game in its entirety before it is unlocked. So as is, the game attempts to emulate the experiences of a deaf person, with a huge problem bordering on  infuriating. You see, while our main character is perfectly able to understand other people and interact with them through lip reading and sign language, the game makes zero effort to communicate that to the player. No subtitles, nothing. Aside from muffled sound effects, or sporadic musical cues, it’s silent. The player, who should be able to understand the most about what’s going on or being said, actually ends up knowing the least.

The game does deserve some praise though. Half of the cutscenes are  well presented visually, with nicely lit scenes and the cinematography  was decent, making the sound issues all the more aggravating.

Frankly, there’s too much to be said about the story; from the mum/girlfriend weirdness to the stupidity of child Dane waving at a guy brandishing a gun in plain sight, but I have to get to the actual game part. There have been comparisons to The Bouncer, one of Square’s past attempts at a brawler/cutscene hybrid. Aside from the graphics, which are notably  the best aspect of the game (in comparison to the rest of it at least), you’d be forgiven for thinking this game came out around that time in 2000.

The fighting feels awful and unfortunately it’s the only bit of gameplay there is. You’re not solving any puzzles, or collecting any items, you’re just beating up generic gangsters. Waves and waves of reused enemy models (take a shot every time the guy in the weed jacket appears) simply act as fodder to your limited repertoire of attacks. Punches, kicks and slaps don’t have any combo potential- a yet again cardinal sin of brawlers. You can get stuck on corners if you sprint at them hard enough, creating  a funny image of a man midway through a running animation until it happens for the hundredth time.

So, in conclusion, read the rating and move on. Don’t spend 15 quid on this. Donate it to charity, or use it on your next grocery shop. If you have to experience this game at all, watch a walkthrough (pre-patch for maximum enjoyment) so you can truly understand this nightmare for what it is. At least it’s short. Game of the Year 2018, anyone?

1/5 stars

Image: The Quiet Man / Human Head Studios

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