“Winter is coming and so is the Dark Souls mechanics.”
A survival game set in a winter wasteland that has you digging the snow for firewood and meat already seemed like a great idea… “Well, it did the first time.” But its harsh snow-capped landscape that was once filled with pristine forests and life now all seems barren and putrid. You play as Ash, a survivor hosting a phantom that mocks you every step of the way. Rebuild the camp, seek refuge and most importantly survive!
In a modern-day post-apocalyptic world, winter is the last thing I’ve imagined to happen. Melting the polar ice caps and drowning the earth in water or completely drying out the world’s supply of it would’ve been a more realistic case for me. But as such, winter isn’t so bad… minus the blizzards that tries to freeze you to death and the lack of lifeforms, you can feed on to survive of course. Yet we woke up in this predicament, a destroyed camp right next door, monsters flailing about with their long and spikey claws and an inner voice mocking you for everything you do.
“Do you want snow or more snow?”
Choices… choices. From the get-go, Fade to Silence offers the player two choices. Exploration and Survival. Exploration offers a slightly easier mode in which you have unlimited lives, weaker enemies but lacks the use of the Boons and Blessings feature. A feature that is only available when picking the latter option for your journey. But when it comes to the Survival mode, you only get to have three lives and access to the mentioned feature. This allows you to gain as many bonuses for each sliver of hope you obtain after the permadeath kicks in such as starting the game with a lot of firewood or an extra life.
Surviving the harsh environment is one thing but living in it is another. As the survivor, your main resource that needs to be kept in check is firewood and meat. Both of which can be found pretty close by such as the deer next to the camp that would require a crafted bow while chopping trees with an axe is just a few steps away from it. However as each step takes you farther to your camp, you get closer to discovering the world and uncovering the past. Or simply finding out that there are other people you can drag back to your camp to do your every bidding. Ranging from building huts and facilities as well as gathering resources from the nearby areas. As such the game is centered about crafting and building for survival.
Cleansing the outposts and points of interest scattered throughout the world is also one of the few things you’ll be doing. And doing so will reward you with tons of resources but at the same time will wither away your maximum health making it a balancing game between life and death… resting to restore your max health but starving in the process.
“Come at me… but not too hard. Please?”
Fade to Silence takes inspiration from the Souls/Borne games. Following the same formula of using a stamina bar to initiate a strike, dodge or block, it manages to keep the harsh setting at an all-time high but failed to realize what makes them really good in the first place. Most enemies tend to pop out of nowhere, hugging corners or hiding beneath the earth and that leaves you with nothing but a head-on collision leaving well thought-out surprise attacks out the window and only its archaic combat system to take the full blunt of the entire playthrough. And there’s very little to love in its clunky combat as it felt more of a triangle system that never had any depth to begin with for its lack of RPG mechanics like a leveling system and skill trees to learn and master.
On the PS4, it’s visually horrific with the characters especially the hair and some parts of the environment lacking the crisp and vivid textures to make the mostly white world of Fade to Silence an endearing experience for its monochromatic nature. And to add fuel to the fire, the voice acting aside from being out of sync also felt lacking in emotions. Nothing ever felt like they’ve done their best to play the part or I probably spent too much time watching and playing with Japanese audio for my main media. “Who knows?”
There’s very little in the way of context that made me want to push forward and take another step away from camp. It never really felt like it had the driving force to do so other than the fact that there’s a floating revolving ball with Cthulhu’s tentacles coming out of the cracks. Fade to Silence basically gave you a quest to find wood and then you’re on your own. Find whatever you want, discover whatever you like. But then again there are some things that really felt great. And that’s discovery through multiple playthroughs. As soon as you get off, there’s the option to find events at your own pace, at one time you’ll be discovering a person getting attacked by a ripper only to follow him up the mountain trying to unlock a chest which you can then ask to join your camp if you give the guy a bow. And at one point you can be going the other way around to the abandoned garage to find another person camping there only to realize he’s doing a bullshit ritual to save Mother Earth. But going one way or the other makes the other event disappear and lose your chance to recruit the other.
It’s a harsh environment with its hazardous blizzards and even lack of resources to keep you from staying alive. This makes for a very unforgiving playthrough mixed with the survival mode and its permadeath. It does, however, find itself a home as a fine base-building game with crafting elements that also incorporates companionship to help you along the way. It has the potential to be a great game. But not today. Not in this weather.