Silicon Dreams is set in the year 2065. Almost every household in the US now owns an android. Androids are made in the image of humans, with a wide range of emotions. To keep androids under control, their emotions are capped. However, being so human-like, their emotions and minds have started to evolve. They started thinking for themselves, and some have even become rebellious...
That is where you come in: you are android D-0527, made by the multi-million dollar business Kronos, who has produced most androids available on the market. Your sole purpose is to interrogate androids to determine whether there will be an android uprising. You will also be interviewing humans who might be assisting androids. With each interview and interrogation, you uncover new information about a potential android uprising, but also about the deep emotional life androids seem to possess. After each interview, you get to decide whether you release, reprogram, or destroy the target altogether. However, you might form an emotional bond with some of the subjects, and you being an android yourself might start questioning whether you should switch sides...
Silicon Dreams raises a familiar question: are androids sentient beings who have the right to freedom, or are they advanced technology that we have the right to own and dispose of as we please? Whilst the premise of the game isn't something we've never heard of, it is delivered in a fresh and entertaining way. On many occasions we found the game to be thought-provoking, questioning ethics surrounding artificial intelligence and consciousness.
Silicon Dreams is best described as a visual novel meeting a detective game. With each subject you get in your chair, you unravel new pieces of information and based on the choices you make, the story takes different turns. At first, everything seems quite straight forward, but as the story progresses you will start uncovering moral dilemmas. Will you do what you're designed to do, or will you start to empathize with the characters, perhaps even take their side? Will you be truthful or hide the truth to protect someone? Will you threaten someone to tell the truth or kill them with kindness? The choice is yours!
After each interrogation, you fill in a report and send it to an (unseen) third party in Kronos. They give you feedback and give you a score. The more detail you give Kronos, the higher your score will be. With a high score, you receive certain bonuses. For example, you get access to more advanced interrogation techniques and you get upgraded to nicer living quarters. However, if your company score drops too low, YOU will be the one in the interrogation room.
Silicon Dreams is a game where choices do really matter. Even the way you formulate questions has a consequence, allowing you to play good cop or bad cop. However, the only thing that wasn't clear for us was how interviews are scored. Sometimes, we'd help someone out by hiding the truth from Kronos, and we'd get called out immediately. Other times, we'd hide the truth and Kronos never be found out. It was unclear to us when we could hide the truth and when we couldn't.
The scoring for the interviews also felt unbalanced too; sometimes, questions were unclear and filling in reports turns into a guessing game. When too many of our points got deducted due to bad guesses, we got decommissioned ourselves! That led us to having to restart the game, which is the only other con we have for Silicon Dreams: unfortunately you can't fast forward anything, meaning that with every playthrough you have to sit through all the interviews again.
Silicon Dreams is made by the same developer that created Spinnortality, a cyberpunk capitalist simulation. Silicon dreams has the same cyberpunk feel and look to it as Spinnortality did (in fact, one of the possible outcomes of Spinnortality are androids taking over the world).
Also similar to Spinnortality, there is no speech in the game. You only hear a moody cyberpunk tune playing on loop. Whilst we do like the music, we feel as though changing the music during more emotional or intense events would have added even more atmosphere to the game.
The graphics of the game are quite basic, but not much is needed as the game is mostly text-based. The writing is splendidly done; the characters respond in a realistic way and the pacing is perfect - not once did we feel an interview was dragging. There are many questions available and depending on which questions you ask, new ones will unlock. The interface of the game befits the cyberpunk theme well and is easy to navigate. You simply click your way through.
Silicon Dreams is an impressive cyberpunk game that questions ethics surrounding the use of intelligent human-like and human-made beings. The choices you make in Silicon Dreams do really matter. Giving us the role to decide the fate of every being we come across has left a powerful impression. With detailed dialogue and a lot of moral dilemmas, this game is certainly not a light play-through. It is an intense experience that will question what makes us human and will stick with you for a while.