The Quiet Man needs to be a lesson to all developers and publishers in how not to release a video game. After deploying to a critical panning from ourselves and other reviewers, the title is back a week later with the 1.02 update that adds audio in order to entice a second playthrough that promises to answer all the lingering questions you may have had. Who would have thought that the addition of sound would be a patch note in 2018? Certainly not us, but here we are with another attempt at figuring out what exactly this game is.
Before we start prescribing hearing aids, let's take a moment to clear up any confusion this update may bring. The original muted experience of The Quiet Man is still very much intact, as you only gain the ability to play through the game with audio once you've completed that silent playthrough. This means that you'll still have to slog your way through the initial three hour baffler that raises the questions and vague theories that the second go around attempts to answer. And so if you were worried that last week's trainwreck had disappeared into the ether once sound had been added, you need not. It's still very much there in its original glory.
Now, audio. Upon the original story's conclusion, we had made very little sense of what was going on. We believed that as deaf protagonist Dane, we were on a mission to save a woman, who we now know to be named Lala, from a masked figure who kidnapped her. We can now say with certainty that this prediction was true, but thankfully, there's a bit more to it than that. What if the supposed victim was in on the plot the entire time? It's this line of thinking that drives the second playthrough, and it helps to clear up a lot of confusing decisions and questions that have stuck with us these past seven days. The Quiet Man is actually about the need to escape the limelight, a childhood plagued by abuse and the loss of a mother, parenting woes, and projecting those family losses onto others.
It's quite a turn from our original predictions, but it's making sense of those flashback scenes that brings the story into focus. This is a narrative that's deeply rooted in family troubles that simply won't go away, culminating in the night that The Quiet Man takes place. And once we managed to actually make sense of it all, it's actually pretty okay. There's nothing groundbreaking here whatsoever, but the inclusion of audio helps to offer clarity on the game's events and give a reason for some of its more bizarre sticking points. It's by no means what we'd define as good, but it works as a plot that makes sense.
While audio does wonders for the story, it fails to improve the abysmal combat that tortured our initial playthrough. The presence of sound ever so slightly improves hit feedback because you can now hear if your punches are actually landing or not, but apart from that, engagements are still an absolute chore. We would have applauded Human Head Studios if it had simply removed the fights from the second run through since nothing worthy of note has been added, but that would have been hoping for too much. There's no improving this aspect, it's just downright terrible.
Furthermore, this audio patch exposes how much of a gimmick Dane's deafness really is. You occasionally see the protagonist use sign language to communicate with other characters, but in other scenes, he has full-blown conversations via speech as if he could hear their every word. It's not consistent in the slightest, only raising more questions around the game's point and development. To be honest, it feels like Dane's deafness is nothing more than a marketing ploy to create mystery in that original playthrough, get people talking about it for a week, and then answer those theories to take things in a different direction. It may well have been someone's passion project, but once another pair of grubbier hands got in on the melting pot, it feels like it was turned into a tactic to create chatter about how incomprehensible the game was upon release. We still believe there's potential in a deaf protagonist, but even after its patch, The Quiet Man continues to trip on its own feet. It makes some sort of sense now, but that still doesn't mean it's worth playing.
Will you be replaying The Quiet Man now that sound has been added to the experience? Has your opinion of the brawler changed with the addition of the new patch? Listen carefully in the comments section below.