Silent Swords Hands-On

The stealth action genre, with all of its sneaking in the shadows and quiet one-hit kills, can become either very intense or very frustrating. One wrong move will turn your carefully planned assault into a fiasco. We think Silent Swords, an upcoming stealth action game from Oniric Games, will be just as unforgiving in its demand for ninja-like perfection, from the two levels we’ve played.

Silent Swords has already been submitted to Apple, so our guess would be that the two-level demo we played will be made available as a Lite version. It starts with a comic-book cutscene, sans dialogue, where a cute little ninja being held captive by Russkie-looking guards is accidentally freed by a mouse chewing on some wires.

To move your ninja, you tap the buttons at the bottom of the screen, twice to tiptoe forward a step, and more than twice to scuttle. These aren’t very responsive, though: You can’t hold down a button to run. Clearly the controls were meant for fine movement, not longer sprints.

Shaking the device will make your ninja jump, and while we usually prefer a button for jumping in most games, some of the timing-based movements like jumping from wall to wall past an alarm-triggering laser were made a bit more suspenseful by these motion controls. Frantically shaking to avoid detection is a real thrill.

When you’ve scuttled past the first few lasers and wall-jumped your way up, it’s time to dispatch your first guard. You do this by standing right next to them, and swiping in a pattern that glows in red at the bottom of the screen. The screen spatters with blood as your target silhouettes in white, a neat effect that minimizes the violence, but not the impact.

We also managed to pick up a shuriken, which gives you a one-hit kill from a distance with a single swipe in your guard’s direction. Later, we found a barrel, which lets you hide in plain sight as long as the guards don’t catch you moving.

Silent Swords seems heavier on puzzle-solving than action. While a few moments were suspenseful, like inching closer in a barrel towards an unsuspecting guard, most of the challenge is figuring out the order in which to take down the guards, and how to make it to the exit without tripping any alarms.

The two-level demo is very brief once you figure out the unconventional controls, but we’re looking forward to playing a lot more. Silent Swords should be available on the App Store very soon.