Fade to Silence seems like a promising title, banking in on what made The Long Dark an intriguing, albeit difficult survival title to master. Is it worth the struggles? Find out in our official review starting now.
+A beautiful, albeit somewhat desolate, landscape that brings the overall narrative to life
+Combat does enhance its pacing despite little diversity to it
+A unique approach to community building in a survival title
-Very limited crafting blueprints
-Risks versus reward systems are almost non-existent.
-Very limited tutorials
-Constant framerate drops
-Only feels like a half-baked title that needed a bit more time before release.
When it comes to survival games, you can always consider me a fan. I love the games. They are tough, they are challenging, and they require a lot of thought when it comes to how far you’re willing to go in order to make the best of the horrible hand you’ve been dealt.
Often times, these questions will come into play when you see crafting materials being gathered by another player, a source of food that may be a bit tougher to gather than you had hoped, or even a mountainside that needs to be scaled that you may not be prepared to traverse being in your way.
When I think of a game with solid survival mechanics, I often think of Conan Exiles for the fact it took a lot of what I loved about Ark: Survival Evolved and expanded upon the titles, core-gameplay elements. However, that’s a discussion for another time, which brings me to the indie title Fade to Silence, a game that attempts to give one of my all-time favorite survival titles, The Long Dark, a run for its not-so-metaphorical money.
The silence, the cold, and everything in it wants to kill you, but for what reason?
One of my issues, right off the back, is the fact that Fade to Silence isn’t exactly unique in what it aims to do in the larger scheme of things. The Long Dark did many of them, in many better ways, for the most part. I wasn’t scared to know that an unrelenting winter would run me down, that my health would suffer because of it, and my character would struggle to find food and warmth outside of the few safe places that would be offered in some form or another.
The same happens in Fade to Silence, but with a larger problem: the game instantly began to lack a sense of direction, a strong narrative composition, and some major gameplay element issues including controller schemes and a sense of difficulty scaling right from the start. You’re technically handed a game that takes the difficulty of Dark Souls and survival elements of The Long Dark before being thrown out to the wolves.
Your goal? Well, that’s never made quite clear. The game itself lacks that sense of guidance. You won’t ever really know how to obtain the items you need, where to hunt for food, how to manage your stamina, recruit survivors for your camp, which you’ll build up over time, or what the Hell that giant floating city up above actually does, besides, well, kill you.
Your chances of survival are rather bleak
The easiest steps to keep in mind when I first started were the basic ones: Gather wood, gather stone, find some scrap, build a weapon or tool of sorts, and get to gathering. The issue here doesn’t exactly seem apparent quite at first: How the Hell do I defend myself AND manage to gather the resources I need? Well, explore the map is a given, but these threats that lie in wait? They’re going to try and kill me rather quick.
With that very risk in mind, I now need to figure out how to create healing salves and where to procure those items. The bigger problem here? The game doesn’t tell me how. There’s no sense of where to go, how to obtain the items I need, and what kind of use they actually have. While I’m sure Black Forest Games had these very topics in mind during their design phase of development, the execution doesn’t work, and it led to a very frustrating first hour with the game, causing me to initially walk away and play something else.
The most consistent piece to the puzzle, however, is clearing out enemy bases, slashing through various creatures before finding the region to be unlocked, protected from their taint, if you will. However, as much of an incentive as that is, don’t expect it to last. Fade to Silence quickly rips away your comfort blanket once again, forcing you to seek refuge near torch-lit barrels and your torch as well in order to seek refuge from the cold.
The biggest design flaw of them all outside of showing players basic features of the game comes into the fact that managing hunger and your health is the worst. You’ll often find yourself trying to fight your way through the seemingly never-ending Blizzard, one that constantly begins to drain at your health pool when you least expect it.
Enter the Souls-like combat system that is actually mildly entertaining for what it is.
One of the more entertaining parts, albeit hard to truly learn from the very start despite the tutorial, is the combat system. The game is very brief on how the mechanics work ranging from dodging an attack to swinging both light and heavy attacks with your torch or a weapon of your choosing. Unfortunately, the combat system, unlike FromSoftware’s formula, doesn’t really change all that much, albeit you do add a bow in at some point in the game, depending on how screwed over you get in regards to resources.
There is one thing I would like to point out, however, which is how intricately designed some of your enemies will become as you progress. Some are hard, providing you with a worthwhile challenge due to how their mechanics work. Some will charge you, using their ability to move about and hit with heavy-hitting attacks to their advantage while others will use swift, precise attacks, due to their size.
The minor changes to their approach to combat does bring in the need for consistent gearing up, memorization of how weapons such as both bow and provided sword actually work, ensuring you are up-to-date with your healing salves. Each encounter can be just as challenging as the one before depending on how much of your life bar has been chipped away by the frozen wastes around you
But after a while, it grows stale once again, not offering just a ton of change to how combat actually feels. Which, sadly, can be the said for crafting.
Even crafting feels limited, oppressive, and over-relied upon in order to succeed
Look. I love to craft. I love survival games and if I could play them day in and out, I actually would, but here’s the truth: I understand this game is a roguelike title where combat should be considered as a last-resort element and that survival is the key element to Fade to Silence, but, it doesn’t work.
There are so few items to construct, which lack depth, variety, and a sense of urgency in this 15-20 hour experience. Sure, you can construct a camp, you can craft a few items there, but it doesn’t help expand upon what you are given at the very start. They remain bleak, leaving you with a couple of healing salves, firewood, arrows, torches, armor, weapons, and gathering tools. That’s it. It’s a list that feels as if it was reconsidered at the very last second.
Which, sadly, can be said for the overall experience, which feels like a great idea that the team squandered when it came to bringing idea to life.
It’s getting cold and now, I’m heading back to somewhere warmer – The Conclusion
When it comes to games in 2019, it feels that Fade to Silence would have been a great title for the last generation of consoles. It just doesn’t live up to today’s standards, despite its beautiful and deadly landscape, which I wish I could explore even more than I already have, however, I struggle to go for the full list of trophies due to the consistent crashes I’ve began to experience in my final hours of the game, a game that would consistently dip below its targeted 30 frames per second that’s coupled with clunky PS2 era style controls.
With a lack of tutorials, a rather limited library of craftable items, this is a hard title to recommend, even to the hardcore of survival fans, which is a shame to say, as I had a lot of hope for one such title, which slowly reveals its story through moments of rest in a camp. Sadly, I think Black Forest Games should head to the drawing board, plan something new, and use the shortcomings of Fade to Silence to make a truly memorable title we’ll be talking about for years to come.
Fade to Silence
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: Available Now
Until then, Fade to Silence is one that I just can’t suggest you play unless you’re looking for a PS2-era experience with semi-modern visuals.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.