I have always been passionate about stealth games. That moment when you have to hide, surround, jump and catch the enemy completely off guard, fascinates me. Be one with the shadows, be lighter than a feather and escape all the furtive glances, a challenge that I am not able to refuse. The saga Metal Gear Solid O Hitman they have always been a source of fun.
That is why I fixed my gaze on The Son – A Wild West Tale. The work of HandyGames Y Honey studios is presented with a baggage of recognitions as important as Best Indie of the Gamescom de 2019, which inevitably puts the spotlight on him and generates a series of expectations.
Simple, but beautiful art and design, promising history and interesting mechanics … the indie pack is completeSo let’s see what awaits us in the desert.
Who wants to play hide and seek?
Between the sticky sand, the scorching sun and the unloving cacti, there is always room for something more beautiful. A boy lives with his mother in the middle of the desert, until their peace is interrupted by the assault of some bandits. Both the woman and the child are forced to leave what was once their home, after it has been razed. Finally the mother leaves her little one in the care of monks who live in a monastery.
This is the simple premise and presentation of The son. All this through images that do not have a single dialogue, transmitting all their intentions only with what appears on the screen. This dynamic will be a constant throughout the narrative of the title, which It is worth more of what surrounds the characters than of the need for text or voice
For this reason, we know that our protagonist is not willing to wait for his mother, who has gone to take revenge against the criminals. The monastery is a place of rest, reflection and study… although not for everyone. The children who inhabit the place have responsibilities that do not correspond to their age, in which fun and play have been buried from their personalities.
The panorama is not very friendly, so our adventure begins. The son is a stealth game whose premise is based on the most basic principle of the genre: they don’t see you. What may seem like a no-brainer quickly becomes a perpetual reality in the game. We are a child and as such, we will have to use our own weapons to overcome the elders.
Pots, furniture, elusive holes … any corner is a good place to hide and avoid the glances of our pursuers. The repertoire is limited, but we will use it very frequently. From a slingshot that serves to throw stones and distract, through rope dolls, flowers with pollen or fireworks. Each one has its utility, although we will really abuse more of the stone throwing, which is the infinite resource we have.
Those are our tools. On the other hand, there is the aforementioned furniture. Vases, boxes or grass are our natural allies, allowing us to await the moment when a guard or monk travels a new route. And like any game based on hiding, our best companion will be the dark. Logical considering the geographical situation in which we find ourselves.
The sun is present at all times, so shady areas are highly valued, as in other works such as Aragami. Whenever we are in them, we will be undetectable. We can move freely (while keeping our distances) and breathe easy planning the next move.
In this planning, a small bird is very helpful that we can use to have a better perspective of the situation, move away the chopped plane with which we will play all the time and show the cone of vision of the characters. And is that once they go on alert, it will be almost impossible to get rid of them, no matter how much we run.
In addition, the levels present a variety of courses that are certainly interesting. The scenarios are interconnected, that is, within the same place, we can reach several points in different ways. And none is better than another, eye, we can simply adjust to the one that seems most attractive or challenging
Don’t let the sand prevent you from seeing the gold
Throughout 30 levels, the scheme will be the same. Go through the area, dodge all the enemies and plant yourself in the next section. But nevertheless, The son it contains more than meets the eye at first glance. The obstacles that we find are a stone in the way and, if we look closely around us, we will see that things are not as they seem at first.
The monks serve without shame, under the mandate of their pontiff, a cause that destroys all their principles. With orders from the government, they dedicate their efforts to looting the bodies of the deceased, to unearth the graves of those who have already left and who may have kept a treasure to be taken to the afterlife. An activity that does not prevent them from also seeing them as men dedicated to the cult of their deity, taking care of their gardens and respecting monastic life.
In this despicable quest, they also find a group of bandits, ready to steal as much gold as possible, building graveyards and blowing up mines in the process. Although, surprise, they need labor. Y, What cheaper labor and what less protest is there? Exactly, the children.
This is the great criticism and in turn, the great value that draws The son. Progressively, as we advance in the misdeeds of these groups, we see how children are despised and used as workers, machines without freedom or feelings
Faced with this horrible scene, our work can be of great help. As I said, the imaginations of all these children have been buried, but it only takes a spark to fan the flame and unearth it. That spark is us. During all levels, we can deviate from the main roads to find the little ones performing tasks that obviously do not correspond to them. If we get close to them, we can teach them a juggling trick, remind them how fun it is to draw, or just piss off some bandit.
They are the ones who deserve the gold, but for their education, for their effort and because they really don’t care about its value. This will be the only secondary task that will be proposed to us, which does not provide any reward beyond the pleasure of returning the smile to children or as it says The son, “Give back the illusion”.
Vida Extra’s opinion
The son it is a simple but effective work. It relies on very few resources, although it cannot be denied that it uses them wisely. With the passage of about 5 hours that the game has lasted me, mechanics can end up being repetitive, since surprises are quickly exhausted in this section, which it has not prevented me from enjoying the time invested.
Just as it is a shame that there are no more reasons to explore or replay the work than to excite the children we lack. In that sense, I think missed an opportunity to add any more collectibles or tasks. The few occasions that we can play with the child’s mother are also wasted, since at the level of mechanics and tools everything is the same. It would have been good allow another approach in your case.
Nonetheless, The son plays his cards perfectly. A pleasant adventure, much more critical than your precious art shows in the first place, and it will not disappoint lovers of stealth.
The Son – A Wild West Tale
|Platforms||PC (reviewed version) Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia|
|Developer||Honey Studios, Quantumfrog|
|Launching||December 3, 2020|
- Knows how to use its few resources wisely
- The fierce criticism against child exploitation
- It can be repetitive
- We only have one secondary task, so there is hardly any exploration