Review

The Quiet Man Review - Silence Is Not Golden

  • First Released Nov 1, 2018
    released
  • PS4

Flunking the old-school.

The interactive movie--that nebulous, hard-to-define genre briefly fashionable in the mid-1990s, when CD-ROM technology made it possible for developers to integrate live-action footage into games--is not exactly remembered for its high quality. But even in the tradition responsible for such notorious follies as Night Trap, Sewer Shark, and Who Shot Johnny Rock, The Quiet Man is astonishingly dire--a graceless, outdated game that belongs squarely in the era of laserdiscs and the Philips CD-i. When it isn't an interactive movie, it's a simple 3D beat-em-up of the kind once ubiquitous at arcades. But an interest in the past does not make The Quiet Man a love letter to video game history, and its ideas are poorly realized.

The Quiet Man boasts a formal conceit that is at least moderately interesting. You play as a svelte blonde 20-something named Dane, who is deaf, and as a consequence the game is almost totally silent. You hear only the muffled patter of footfalls while walking, some indistinct notes of synthesizer to represent voices, and a faint patina of generic ambience elsewhere. The marketing materials describe this as an effort to allow the player to "experience the world in the way Dane does." But we clearly do not experience the world as Dane does. Dane reads lips; he communicates extensively and effortlessly with every character he encounters. So why are these conversations not subtitled? In one lengthy scene of dialogue after another, people talk with Dane, presumably advancing the story. Meanwhile, we have no earthly clue what's being said or what's going on.

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This sort of inexplicable design is entirely typical of The Quiet Man. It’s difficult to understand so much of what transpires. Consider an early narrative sequence in which Dane meets either a colleague or a friend--the relationship was not apparent to me and only gets more confusing over the course of the story--and converses with him in his office. In a series of mundane closeups the other man speaks as Dane nods along, rapt; the nature of their discussion is opaque, and their performances, amateurish and hammy, are abysmal. You can imagine this scene being staged in such a way that the content would be clear even without sound or subtitles. The Quiet Man doesn't even try.

When these mystifying, interminable full-motion-video scenes at last end, the actors are switched out for crudely animated substitutions, many of whom bear such a poor resemblance to their real-life counterparts that it is frequently unclear who's who. It's never hard to pick out Dane in the heat of battle, though, because he's the only one who's white. The endless procession of villainous henchmen you're asked to brutally dispatch are uniformly latino, broad caricatures of "cholos" in street-gang garb who sneer at you between pummelings. You fight them pretty much exclusively throughout. The political implications of the game's demographic makeup are appalling, in this fraught time of wall-building especially, and the end result is plainly, unforgivably racist.

In any case, it's quite fitting for the enemies to be the same cliched type repeated ad nauseam, because repetitiveness is the very nature of The Quiet Man's beat-em-up combat system. Brawling has what might generously be described as an arcade-like simplicity: one button to punch, one to kick, and one to dodge, plus a finishing move that can be triggered on occasion. It would be more accurate to call this rudimentary. Almost every battle boils down to a dull frenzy of button-mashing, as enemies rarely block, scarcely fight back, and practically never come at you more than one at a time. Though waves of 10 or even 20 must be defeated to clear a given room, they don't change their approach or vary their style, and mostly seem to stand around awaiting their turn to be vanquished. There's no way to vary your own attacks, either, which gives every encounter the air of a chore.

Boss battles aren't much different in terms of character or technique. They distinguish themselves instead in terms of overwhelming difficulty. I almost never lost a fight in the course of regular gameplay; each of the handful of boss battles, though, kept me stuck for a long time, as I labored through dust-ups with enemies that seemed absurdly overpowered and virtually invulnerable to damage. Worse than simply losing these battles was how consistently vague they proved to be. Seldom is it apparent why you might be losing a fight. The game doesn't track damage or show the enemy's health, and it's never certain whether your hits are landing or registering much effect--hitboxes are indistinct and attacks almost always clip through bodies, which makes the whole process feel at once feeble, confusing, and outrageously imprecise.

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Simplistic, ungainly combat is all the more surprising given that it is The Quiet Man's only gameplay mechanic. From beginning to end there is nothing else to do--no places to navigate, no items to collect, no weapons to wield, no puzzles to solve. It's just those same mind-numbing punches and kicks broken up by extended narrative scenes that by virtue of the enforced silence you can't hope to follow or understand. The broad contours of the plot are vaguely discernible: the drama involves childhood trauma, a seedy metropolitan underbelly, various acts of conspiracy and revenge. As for the details, it's impossible to say. The game's final moments tease an upcoming addition that will allow you to play it through a second time with the sound restored. This feels like both a preposterous cop-out--that's the main conceit!--and a cruel punishment. With sound the story will surely make more sense. But having suffered through The Quiet Man once, I can't bear to try it again.

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The Good

  • A deaf hero is a win for representation, even if the execution is wanting

The Bad

  • Simplistic, repetitive combat
  • Wildly uneven difficulty
  • Ridiculous, often bewildering story
  • Tommy Wiseau-esque performances
  • All-silent formal conceit is clumsily integrated and ineffective
  • Bizarrely insensitive enemy demographics have disturbing implications for combat

About the Author

Calum Marsh endured three long, unhappy hours with The Quiet Man and politely declines the opportunity to play through it again with sound. He played on PS4.
121 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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CoolerMaster123

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it will still suck with sound on

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finalfantasy94

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"It's never hard to pick out Dane in the heat of battle, though, because he's the only one who's white. The endless procession of villainous henchmen you're asked to brutally dispatch are uniformly latino, broad caricatures of "cholos" in street-gang garb who sneer at you between pummelings. You fight them pretty much exclusively throughout. The political implications of the game's demographic makeup are appalling, in this fraught time of wall-building especially, and the end result is plainly, unforgivably racist."

Are you freaking kidding me. As a hispanic man this is by far one of the most gross shit iv seen a reviewer write. How is it racist? Iv been beating up black and hispainic people in games for years and now all of a sudden its bad. Man where was the outrage when in uncharted you as nathan drake who looks like a white guy was blowing up non white people oh wait my bad it wasn't a problem then because......umm just because. Please leave your political nonsense off your reviews. You should be ashamed of yourself as a video game reviewer for writing this dreck.

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taylor12702003

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Edited By taylor12702003

I do not need to hear about your dumb political opinions in a game review.

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Cherub1000

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Love it hahaha!

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PraisetheShat

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Edited By PraisetheShat

Good lord I don't know what to say. I watched some gameplay footage and it physically hurt to do so.

SE, please stick to RPG's.

Edit: "Tommy Wiseau-esque performances", How DARE you compare this turd of a game to the likes of Tommy Wiseau? I don't think this is really the 'so bad it's good' type of game.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

This has to be my pick for GotY. For me to poop on.

But I'm going to support it because I really want to see something else from this dev just to troll.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

@girlusocrazy: Speaking about the developer, man, the people involved in the making of this game are just a motley crew, most of whom do not have extensive portfolios.

Heck, the name that Square Enix put first and foremost is "Kensei Fujinaga" - whose portfolio on Moby Games is really short.

I get the impression that the only ones who could have ever convinced Square Enix to do this are the writers - many of whom do have extensive careers, especially in writing for comics and idea pitches.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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@Gelugon_baat: Yeah someone called in some favors

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Gelugon_baat

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@girlusocrazy: If there is anyone who called in favours, it would be Fujinaga. I doubt that the higher-ups at Square Enix would have listened to the pitch if it wasn't another countryman who made the proposal.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

Well, with the "Answered" update giving voice-overs to everyone, there certainly are some words being thrown about by the characters. Would you call a dude of Dominican descent an "enchilada", for one?

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

Also, oh wow, shit, dude. The animators really got their budgets constrained.

Just see this animation oversight that Giant Bomb (San Francisco) found.

Furthermore, I discovered that the actual gameplay had a system of cues that depend on audio clips, namely a heartbeat that can be heard when the player character comes near something that he should interact with in order to advance the game; this in addition to very brief gamma flashes. The default version of the game takes that heartbeat out, but the momentary flashes are retained.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

The "Answered" update is out. Apparently, that much of the story-telling, including the dialogue scenes, had no voice-overs was intentional.

Also, link to a YouTube playthrough with that update. (We are fortunate that SOPA was not passed.)

UPDATE: Oh wow, I had been watching that.

The protagonist is indeed deaf (at least according to some people who said that he is deaf). I get the impression that he can only read lips if he is looking at people and they are talking slowly enough. Oh wait, scratch that - he's actually just pretending to listen to people.

Moreover, the finale seems even worse now that I can understand what the hell is going on. This is a story with way too many twists and turns that did not their storytelling value.

That said, the game could have been better if the audio was there in the first place - rather than have people wondering what the hell is going on.

2 • 
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thingta42

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Edited By thingta42

GOTY. Really makes you route for a deaf guy who beats up on other races with no apparent cause.

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Gelugon_baat

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@thingta42: Actually, he was sent by his boss to beat them up - a boss who doesn't like Dominicans, by the way.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

Anyone here realizes that there has been a John Wayne movie called "The Quiet Man"?

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Gelugon_baat

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Just so anyone knows, there have been works of fiction that does the theme of forced silence (in the storytelling) and deaf people a lot better.

The recent movie "A Quiet Place" for one.

3 • 
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SaturatedButter

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R A C I S M

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

@saturatedbutter: There sure are a lot of people complaining about the reviewer complaining about racism. "Keeping politics out of reviews" and shit like that.

That said, ooh man, the Dominicans in this game are goofy fucks. There is that poster of their head honcho for one. Cringeworthy, that was.

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mdinger

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Edited By mdinger

The game is also available on Steam (it's not a PS4 exclusive as implied by the review). Not that anyone will care because it's apparently total arse regardless where you play it.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/790540/THE_QUIET_MAN/

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profdirectx

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its no wonder Square Enix posted a massive loss of $33,000,000 in profits this year making this tripe. Canceling FF DLC's, people leaving... not looking good is it!

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zyxahn

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Fraught time of wall-building especially, and the end result is plainly, unforgivably racist. That's all I needed to see. Reviewer and review, irrelevant.

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Neo_Sarevok

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@zyxahn:The fact the reviewer said "fraught" suggests to me they are against the wall. I'll simply leave them with this border wall info video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgQUby6bT-4

And the best part is it's a female interviewing a Latino female border guard, so no one can complain.

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penstrol

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@zyxahn: quick fellas, back to the 4chan safe space!

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RGLGAThrawn

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"A deaf hero is a win for representation, even if the execution is wanting" Oh please. Gaming has had representation for decades. Representation of mutes!

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AyatollaofRnR

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FMV games in the year of our Lord 2018.

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RicanV

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RicanV  Moderator

@AyatollaofRnR: I know it's not the most appealing genre in 2018 but "Her Story" was also a recent FMV game and it received critical praise. It's a shame because the industry needs more variety and this game looks like a step backwards.

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Gelugon_baat

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@RicanV: Also, HITDUDER.

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AyatollaofRnR

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@RicanV: True, they can still be well done. The Bunker is another example.

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RicanV

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RicanV  Moderator

The real disappointment is not the 2 but the lack of a Phantasmagoria mention in the intro.

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Lembu90

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2 out of 10? That even worse than Hatred which got 3.

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julianboxe

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@lembu90: But Hatred is awesome.

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JSprunk

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If you watch the trailer, you've pretty much "played" the entire "game".

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Sindroid

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Edited By Sindroid

So bad that Gamespot did not bother make a video review attached to it. They usually make a video to every single little article they put out.

"Why no video Gamespaht? Why...WHY... YOU ARE TEARING ME APART GAMESPAHT!!!"

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mdinger

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@Sindroid: "I did not make a video. I did not! Oh hi Sindroid".

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Edited By tsunami2311

I remeber "the bouncer" from SQ that got this bad of score too. actual I think this got worse score. Im not surprised by score cause when I saw the trailers and videos of this I thought SQ is trying another "the bouncer" game, apparntly they didnt learn from last time

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Mogan

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@tsunami2311: The Bouncer got a 6.7, back in 2001. Not a good score, and that game earned it, but I’d rather play The Bouncer again than play any more of The Quiet Man.

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pyro1245

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@tsunami2311: Haha I remember The Bouncer. That was a PS2 launch game, right? It wasn't terrible, just short and not very good.

Heh I think The Quiet Man makes The Bouncer look good by comparison.

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tsunami2311

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@pyro1245: imo they both Really nice to look at ( respective to there generation), but shitty gameplay.

SQE for most part still think all these pretty CGI movies and names of pass make the game still.

Then again I am of the opinion SQE need to remeber Final Fanstasy is what save them from shutting down, cause that game ment to be there last game if it failed, it succeed and they were reborn. and what they turn FF imo is crying same. maybe they need to be on verge of shutting down again, and have one last game to be made where they actual remember what made then and put them on the map.

SQE is less about the gameplay these days and more about the CGI movies and in game engine movies, which dont make the game

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Itzsfo0

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Edited By Itzsfo0

@tsunami2311: I love Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn - literally the best MMO on the market, and a damn good story (to compete even w/ single player ARPGS) its just THAT good. The remaking/reimagining of the game (there is a documentary on youtube, a 5-part documentary) its awe-inspiring. Maybe FF XV didn't turn out as expected, but FF XIV A Realm Reborn and subsequent DLC/expansions...has been a great game, that is holding strong after several years with an ever-increasing fan-base. Maybe that is where their future is, cause FF XIV is chock FULL of actual game-play, actual content, and some damn-good storytelling. No game is perfect of course, but that game has only gotten better (and considering the ORIGINAL form Final Fantasy XIV came as...the fact that it got negative reviews widespread, and they admitted fault, and lack of this, that and the other - and went back into the drawing board, and over the next few years revitalized the title, and completely gave it a major make-over...improving upon literally every aspect and then some. The game that came out 4 years later...was a much different beast, and now (several years later) has become an even better game. So I can't speak to Final Fantasy offline anymore, maybe online is the way to go for SQE. They have an ace-in-the-hole with Final Fantasy XIV. And alot more ground to cover. Considering the amount of post-release content updates.

2.0 A Realm Reborn (August 2013)

2.1 A Realm Awoken (December 2013)

2.2 Through the Maelstrom (March 2014)

2.3 Defenders of Eorzea (July 2014)

2.4 Dreams of Ice (October 2014)

2.5 Before the Fall (January/March 2015)

3.0 Heavensward (June 2015)

4.0 Stormblood (June 2017)

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Ragnarocking

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DAYUMMMM

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JimAbadon

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I'd forgotten about this game at all, probably because it wasn't in my radar ever. But I remember now some people saying about how incredible the combat looked. Well, I guess Square really sold the illusion now, did they? Poor form, Square, poor form.

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JimAbadon

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Edited By JimAbadon

Oh dear, people are going to complain because the author said that it gives a weirdly racist message due to the enemy demographic, aren't they? Look, I get it that Latino street gangs are comprised of Latinos so it's not odd but if the game has you fighting only non-whites, then it really is something worth questioning. Maybe not necessarily going on a tirade about racism, but it really begs the question why.

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aiat_gamer

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Edited By aiat_gamer

@jimabadon: It begs the question that why a game has latino gangs as enemies? Really? Why not? Just because your president is racist suddenly no one is allowed to show any negative depiction any race other than white?

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MigGui

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Edited By MigGui

@aiat_gamer: there is no problem with a negative depiction of latinos. The problem is that the game doesn’t explain why the only white character is hitting all non-white enemies, because the story is never explained. Then it just looks like a kkk member going after any non-white person he can find.

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RGLGAThrawn

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@aiat_gamer: Because Latino gangs don't exist, right? Ever been to New York? San Fran? LA? Ever seen West Side Story?

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JimAbadon

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@aiat_gamer: he's not my president, I'm not American nor do I live in America. And yet, it annoys me because it's unrealistic.

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Ember_to_Flame

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Edited By Ember_to_Flame

Wildly uneven difficulty - how is that a negative thing? Does every game have to have 4 different difficulty setting where everything is exactly the same throughout the game? I find it more appealing when it is both easy and hard, not only easy or just hard.( Id assume that is the case, one difficulty?).

I'm waiting on a salesdrop, I'm more interested now then I were before the review. I must see it with my own eyes.

2 • 

The Quiet Man

First Released Nov 1, 2018
released
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4

2
Terrible

Average Rating

9 Rating(s)

4.5
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes