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Stable game
Developer half
Theme Fantasy
Influences Angband
Released Jan 3 2012 (1.0)
Updated Feb 20 2012 (1.0.2)
Licensing Open Source
P. Language C
Platforms Windows Mac OS X Source
Interface Keyboard
Game Length 10 hours
Official site of Sil

A game of adventure set
in the first age of Middle-earth,
when the world still rang with elven song
and gleamed with dwarven mail.
Walk the dark halls of Angband.
Slay creatures black and fell.
Wrest a shining Silmaril from Morgoth’s iron crown.

Sil is a computer role-playing game with a strong emphasis on discovery and tactical combat. It has a simple but rich combat system which allows for a great variety of choice: should you wear heavy armour that makes you easier to hit but reduces the damage you take? should you wield heavier weapons to overcome your opponents’ armour, or wield lighter weapons for more accuracy and a greater chance of critical hits? It depends on the situation and the type of character you become. You will also have the chance to retreat back into shadowy corridors to take the enemy one by one, or to stealthily creep up to your opponent and take him unawares.

It is also one of very few games that stays true to the writings of Tolkien. Carefully researched, it dispenses with many generic fantasy tropes and reveals a different world. There are no wizards or priests, no platemail or magical scrolls. Instead, it is the Norse Saga inspired world that Tolkien imagined, with warriors clad in shining mail, singing songs of rage or sorrow as they slay. The magic of the world is subtle yet powerful: there are songs of fear and of binding, rather than spells of fireball and teleportation.

Sil comes from a tradition of role-playing games known as roguelikes. They stem from a game called Rogue that was written before computers had graphics and instead used symbols on the screen to represent a dungeon filled with monsters and treasure, that was randomly generated each time you played. Rogue also had ‘permanent death’: you have only one life and must choose wisely lest you have to start again. Finally, it had a system of unidentified items whose powers you must discover for yourself. Sil inherits all of these features, though it is much more advanced in many ways.

Who will like Sil?

You will like Sil if you want to play a detailed and well balanced role-playing game with a rich and intuitive system of tactical combat. You will also like it if you are interested in the works of Tolkien, or even just want a less generic role-playing game. The greatest obstacle to enjoying Sil will be its lack of graphics, but if you can overcome an initial reaction and begin to explore the world, your imagination should fill in the details more effectively than a small clump of pixels would.