To get experimental and, musically, go where others wouldn’t dare; and have it all competently tied together is no easy feat. Yet, this is one of the primary accomplishments of The World Is Quiet Here on their new album, Zon. Released just last week via Silent Pendulum Records, this sophomore full-length offering (of over one hour in length), really emphasizes the quintet’s sensational technical skills and musicianship, as well as its sheer musical coherence. Progressive metal can get rather adventurous, and this album certainly does, but within that creative freedom, the group has demonstrated a great ability to take you on a metallic ride appealing to any fan of hard music.
Zon is The World Is Quiet Here’s follow-up to their debut, Prologue. It’s, in a sense, a continuation of that record, picking up right where they left off, literally. Prologue ends with the album’s main character’s demise, and Zon is an exploration of what comes next for that person. Speaking to the band’s quickly growing respect within their own genre, Zon features guest appearances by guitarist Ivan Chopik, formerly of Pained In Exile, guitarist Kee Poh Hock, previously of Native Construct, and Others By No One singer Max Mobarry.
For our latest Level Up interview, we spoke with The World Is Quiet Here bassist Tyler Dworak about his favourite type of gaming, how games have inspired him musically, RPGs, card games, and his favourite video game of all time.
What video game introduced you to the world of gaming?
Tyler Dworak: “I have vague memories of having an Aladdin game on a Sega system, but I couldn’t give any details about it, just that it was an Aladdin game. The first game I actually remember is Donkey Kong 64. We had gotten it for Christmas, and it blew my tiny brain. The size of that game is unreal, and it was just a fun world to explore and kick beavers in. I still have my copy and pull it out every now and again. It hardly holds up, but that’s what started it for me.”
What are your favourite types of games to play?
“I’m big on the action-adventure/RPG thing these days. Games that take a really long time to finish or tell a great story. I grew up with The Legend of Zelda franchise, and still love (almost) all of the games, and it hooked me forever. We’re sort of at a renaissance with that style of game right now, which has been great. The new God of War series is wonderful. Elden Ring, as miserable as it can be sometimes, was a triumph for open-world gaming.
“I’ve recently gotten more into the JRPG genre, but I like the games that do things a little differently. I absolutely love the Mother games, specifically Mother 3. The way the story is structured is super original, even for a 17-year-old game. I fell heavily for Persona 5 in the last few years, that game has more style than our whole band does. A series that is sort of like a joke with me and my wife is the Xenoblade Chronicles series. Those games are ridiculous and the writing and voice acting can be pretty terrible, but that’s part of the charm, and we love them.”
Have video games ever inspired you musically?
“For sure. There is a bassline on Zon that was inspired by the victory theme in Persona 3. I accidentally wrote a bassline that was super reminiscent of the original Bower’s Castle from the first Super Mario Bros. games, I didn’t end up using that one.
“I’ve been making a lot of synthesizer-based music lately, and as much as a meme the game has become is, the Undertale soundtrack has been great to get into that headspace. It’s incredible.”
Which video game have you logged the most hours in?
“There are a few that come to mind. Lifetime, the Pokemon franchise is definitely number one. With the whole franchise, I have thousands of hours in. I’ve played every game since Red/Blue/Yellow multiple times, even the bad ones. Something about seeing a Pokemon I’ve never seen before always brings me back to being 6 years old, and the only thing that mattered was my level 100 Blastoise.
“If we are talking about single games, my wife and I have collectively put 300+ hours into Persona 5, which is a game that we both fell in love with when the pandemic started. I also have at least 400 hours each in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Binding of Isaac. Not nearly enough time to be very good at either one, but those games are great to turn on and not think too hard about things.”
What is the most beautiful game you’ve ever played?
“Definitely Okami. It’s gotten more popular recently, but back when it came out in 2006, it flopped big time. New consoles were just about to come out, and no one was looking at what was coming out on the PS2, but this game is incredible from top to bottom. The distinctive brushstroke graphics mixed with cell shading make for an entirely unique experience. Tie that in with a story rooted in Japanese folklore, a surprisingly funny and heartfelt script, and one of the most incredible soundtracks in gaming (maybe only bested by Shadow of the Colossus… maybe), and it’s one of the most fulfilling gaming experiences I’ve ever had. I replay it all the time, and the magic never goes away.”
What is the hardest game you’ve ever played?
“Probably Elden Ring. I say this as someone who doesn’t play the Soulsborne games at all, so my credibility is already shot. I got that game as it came out so I could play along with the guys in the band, and it was rough. I loved playing the game, I think it is a marvel, but the learning curve as someone who hasn’t played Soulsbornes is intense. I had to come to the realization that the game is difficult on purpose, and that sometimes, I am just not good enough. But, the game lets you play however you want, which is a great way to learn the mechanics. That being said, I cheesed all of the really hard bosses and never beat Malenia. I can only take so much.”
What is the best game you’ve ever played?
“It’s a pretty common one to say these days, but The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is my favourite game. I loved Ocarina of Time, but Majora’s Mask is on a different level. Most other games on the N64 were a lot about the player getting from one place to another, and the environment sort of melted into the background. Majora’s Mask really only works when you take time to explore the world and interact with the characters in it.
“The way the Clock Town changes over the course of the three days as the moon is crashing into it always astounds me. The citizens’ schedules change, they say different things depending on how you’ve interacted with them. They feel like real characters, which was really eye-opening growing up; that games weren’t just about gameplay. Mixed with the super off-kilter soundtrack and the setting of Termina, it can’t be beat. These things are nothing new now, but Majora’s Mask was the first game I played that made me see the larger picture.”
What is your favourite trading card game (eg. Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Hearthstone, etc)?
“I played Hearthstone all the way through college. I love collecting things, but I had no money to actually buy things to collect, so being able to play the game for free was a great way to scratch the itch. Blizzard (Entertainment) got into some controversies in 2021 and I couldn’t support them the way I was, so I stopped playing that summer. Right around then, I found out that a lot of my co-workers played Magic: The Gathering regularly after work and on lunch, and I jumped in. I played the game a bit around the first Innistrad block, but I fell out of it when my brother moved away to college. I play regularly now, and it is one of my favourite things.”
When did you first get into trading card games?
“Like everyone else my age, it’s Pokemon cards. I was an absolute lunatic about it growing up. I begged my parents every time we went out to get cards. Also, like everyone else, I never knew how to play the actual game, so I was begging for money for the chance to get cards to show off to my friends, or brag to my brother. All of those cards are long gone now, but that spawned my collecting addiction. That grew into Yu-Gi-Oh a little after that, and then eventually Magic: The Gathering.”
What is the best part about your hobby?
“The best part is the people I play with. We play the Commander format, so it’s usually a group of four players. There are games that we are certainly trying to win and be as aggressive as possible, but most of the time we are just trying to have the most insane interactions we can possibly have. We will gladly lose the game if it means that something crazy will happen at the table that none of us have ever seen. We have a Discord at work where we all talk about deck ideas, rulings, trading, etc.. It’s a great community to be with.”
What is your favourite role-playing game (eg. D&D, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, etc)?
“I want to preface this section with this: at the time of me answering these questions, the Wizards of the Coast/OGL (Open Gaming License) controversy is happening. I love Dungeons & Dragons, but it is very lame what the new rumored OGL and monetization to the game will be doing to creators and members in the community.
“I’ve been pretty heavy in Dungeons & Dragons for a few years now, so it’s still new, but a very intense love. I had some experience with Pathfinder about ten years ago, and I’ve been meaning to check it out again, but D&D made the most sense to me when I got into the details. What I liked about it is what you are able to do in the game. Being able to put your game in different settings depending on the vibe of the party is so freeing. I’m sure the other systems have just as robust options, but D&D is the one I found.”
What is your favourite character you’ve ever created?
“There are a few that come to mind. I’m a player in a homebrew campaign where I’m playing a Warforged named M.A.R.K. He doesn’t know what his purpose is, and his only clue is a book that he, or anyone else, can’t read. I love playing that character.
“The other one that comes to mind was a character that I improvised for a quick laugh while DM’ing. My wife’s character asked a barkeeper for a Shirley Temple. So, I had a character pop in named Shirley Temple who had a fun interaction with them because they weren’t expecting it. That character ended up being a big help to them and it was one that I just made for a lame joke that I liked.”
Do you currently have a campaign ongoing? How far along are you?
“I’m in three campaigns right now. I DM two games and am a player in another. I have a party that’s about a third way through Curse of Strahd that we’ve all been loving a lot. The other session I DM is a Wild Beyond the Witchlight campaign that we are only one session in. I’m really excited about that one. I’m not great at running combat, and that’s a campaign that can be done with no combat, with players just getting by on their wits.
“The campaign I’m a player in is a co-worker’s homebrew campaign. We’ve only had a few sessions, but it’s been a ton of fun sitting on the other side of the DM screen.”
For anyone who would want to get into the hobby, how would you recommend they do it?
“I love telling stories, and I love improv and making people laugh. I started playing because I wanted to tell funny stories with my friends in a way that we could all contribute to and didn’t cost any money. And now, it’s one of the main things my friend group does, and it’s been almost three years. There is an apprehension that happens with new people who play, they don’t want to embarrass themselves, or they are worried about being nerds or whatever their concern is. And it’s understandable.
“Playing a character is like performing, and it’s scary for people who haven’t performed before. Going to a local game store’s TTRPG events is a great way to get into it (as long as it’s a safe and welcoming space). Most folks there are usually really eager to teach new people how to do it, and are understanding with new people.”