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European DOS cover art
Silverload is the title of a graphic adventure video game developed by Millennium Interactive and published by Psygnosis in Europe and Vic Tokai in North America. The game was released in 1995. The player controls, via a first person perspective, a Wild West cowboy as he ventures into a haunted town in order to save a child that was taken from his parents. The U.S. based Entertainment Software Rating Board gave the game a "M" rating for its graphic violence, blood and gore, and bits of profanity. The game was released for the personal computer in Europe, and the original PlayStation edition was given an international release.
The game begins just after a wagon caravan has been attacked by werewolves, who ended up stealing a man's only son. The player character, an anti-hero cowboy, agrees to go to the town, find the child and return him to his father. As the cowboy ventures into the town picking up various objects, interacting with the locals, and finding a safe place before the werewolves begin to prowl, he realizes that this once God-fearing and prosperous silvermining town has become a cursed den of vice, ghouls, vampires and werewolves after the original town's residents slaughtered an American Indian tribe. The tribesmen, as it just so happens, were the cowboy's long-lost ancestors.
As is the case with other graphic adventure games, progress in Silverload involves finding and interacting with various "hot spots" in order to pick up objects, solve puzzles and interact with (or kill) the various characters in the town. Picking up certain objects will cause the game's (and town's) clock to move forward, and thus, the trick to success is to pick up the right items in the precise order. Otherwise, the player must restart the game from the beginning, or from the last save point.
The initial European PC release was universally panned by critics. Just Adventure gave it an F grade, and listed it as one of the five worst adventure games of all-time in their Dungeon of Shame feature. The review stated that the "few minor details" of "jerky animation, incoherent puzzles, bad interface and horrendous lip-synching ... separate Silverload from the gaming classics," and attested the one redeeming factor was its plot.
The PlayStation release, however, was not a direct port, but an entire reworking of the title that actually received a few positive reviews. Scary Larry gave it a heavily mixed review in GamePro. He lambasted the graphics and sounds, citing poor illustrations for the static graphics and offensive ethnic stereotypes in the voice acting, but said the gameplay is more interesting than most point-and-click adventures. He recommended that players rent the game rather than buy it. Unlike Scary Larry, a reviewer for Next Generation was actually pleased with the illustrations, saying they "give even the relatively 'normal' scenes in the game a strange, ethereal glow." He also praised the dialogue, challenge, and generally chilling atmosphere, though he criticized that the hot-spot based interface makes the control difficult even when using the PlayStation Mouse. He summarized Silverload as "a game that, while following a genre's conventions, simply does everything smashingly well." IGN was also positive claiming "Great graphics and a compelling horror story set in the Old West make for a truly remarkable game." Like Next Generation, they found the game's one major flaw to be the hot-spot based interface, concurring that using the PlayStation Mouse does not help the problem.
In a 2012 retrospective feature, John Szczepaniak of Hardcore Gaming 101 claimed the "PSOne update, has a number of clever ideas to separate itself from the adventure game pack" and praised its "good ideas, fantastic setting, great script and suitable voice acting", also stating "the 3D shooting sections are very slick and extremely awesome." The game is also occasionally listed for being one of the weirdest western works ever created, and the PlayStation version is also considered a collectable for being one of only a handful of titles released in the bumpy-cased longbox packaging.
- "Silverload - IGN". November 25, 1996. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Motherlode". Next Generation. No. 18. Imagine Media. June 1996. p. 114.
- Sluganski, Randy. "Silverload Dungeon of Shame Entry #3". Just Adventure. Archived from the original on June 11, 2004. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Silverload (Game) - Giant Bomb". Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "ProReview: Silverload". GamePro. No. 92. IDG. May 1996. p. 60.
- "Hardcore Gaming 101: Silverload". Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "The Top 7 Weirdest Westerns". Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- Paul Green. Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. McFarland & Company, Inc. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Playstation 1 Rarity Guide". Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- "Game-Rave.com Presents: PlayStation LongBox Project". Retrieved May 20, 2014.