Quiet as a Stone Game Review

A flourishing forest, a circle of stones in the desert, or misty ruins lit by flickering torches. Quiet as a Stone invites players to create their own scenes from random plants, stones, and structures while enjoying natural background sounds and evolving weather cycles.

Format: PC via Steam

Looking down on a cliff outcropping with an oversized bull skull, large bones, and many rocks and small trees. Toward the bottom of the screenshot is a small circle of stones.
Released November 20th, 2018 by Richard Whitelock | Distant Lantern Studios Ltd

Quick Overview

Major Pros:

  • Create nature dioramas
Major Cons:

  • Unattractive menus
  • Lose items over the edge a lot
  • No saving
Minor Pros:

  • Nice background sound
  • Interesting camera mode
Minor Cons:

  • Odd control setup
  • No previews in the creation menu
A barren dirt scene with an oversized bull skull and bones in the center. Miniature trees and rocks are clustered to one side while glowing gems are being picked up near the middle.
Clearing a scene for creation

In-depth Review

The focus of Quiet as a Stone is to create custom dioramas using what’s randomly available in each level. Objects can be moved, duplicated, resized, and rotated. Duplicating items costs gems, which can be obtained by cutting down grass. Cutting grass can also yield shards and pots which give new items and special effects. Shards can be mined directly, while pots must be broken open by dropping a rock on them. The tutorial also tells the player that gems won’t be saved between levels, but in my game, they were leading to an endless supply for building things.

Gems explode everywhere across a scene. A campfire is to the top left, a stack of books to the bottom right, and large rocks and shrubs cover the area.
The shard explodes into gems!

One of the most frustrating parts of creation was that loose objects like shards, pots, and gems can easily go flying over the edge of the level. Anything that leaves the main area of the level can’t be retrieved and is lost forever. This was particularly frustrating when cutting grass and new gems or shards burst out and immediately go flying. I found that I still had enough left to create pleasing dioramas, but that moment of disappointment as something shiny was lost seemed unnecessary.

A circle open scene of grass and few rocks. The large bull skull and bones are the only features.
Gems and shards easily roll off this level

Other than the tutorial level, levels are randomly generated. A short description on the map will give the player some idea of the setting, but sometimes these don’t communicate well what’s in the physical space and what’s in the background. When selecting a new level to explore, 3 random options will be provided on the map. After moving to a new area, there’s no way for players to access a previous project, nor is there any way to save the current progress when turning off the game.

A black screen dotted with grey trees and 3 locations: Shallowaid, Langord, and Kite's End. Text at the top of the screen says Choose an unexplored site.
There’s no way to return to previous levels

Within levels, the lighting and weather will naturally shift, along with relevant background sounds such as birds, insects, and wind. I found the lighting and background sound to be quite pleasant, but there’s no way for the player to control them. The lack of control was particularly frustrating for lighting when I was done with a project and wanted to take pictures as mementos of my work.

A dawn scene of trees and ruins amidst large boulders, many fireflies, and glowing moss.
I wish it was darker for this shot

Quiet as a Stone has an in-game camera mode. This allows the player to export screenshots without the UI. It has additional controls for zoom, setting the focus range, portrait/landscape, and several color filters. I found the focus range to be the most interesting, although some of the color filters were fun to play with too.

A close up shot of a ring of stones in a nighttime desert scene. Options along the left allow for choosing an output folder, milimeter zoom, focus range, image ratio, and color filter. Instructions on the right show how to move focus and pan and move the camera.
Time for a closeup!

I found a lot of the user interface in Quiet as a Stone to be minimalist, sometimes to the point of being unattractive or unhelpful. The creation menu was added after the game’s release and provides only names of items with no preview or explanation of what they are. Most things aren’t accessible from the menu with no explanation as to why. WASD is used to resize and rotate items, instead of mouse wheel and QE which is what I kept trying to use. The camera options are also little more than text overlaid on the scene. Given how much of the game’s focus was on visuals, I was surprised the menus were so overlooked.

A huge tree growing out of a round boulder. Grass and small trees densely surround it. In the background is a wooden wall broken up by a stone bridge.
The buttons can be both hard to read, and awkwardly dark and angled

Recommendation

Overall, I enjoyed playing around with Quiet as a Stone and building several of my own dioramas. The game is open-ended and lets players build how they want with a random set of items. Unfortunately, players that put a lot of time into their projects will be disappointed by the lack of a save feature. I recommend Quiet as a Stone for players looking for a quick sandbox to mess around in, but players hoping to do big projects with less randomness will probably want to look elsewhere.

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