Fade to Silence Review
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Publisher/Developer: THQ Nordic/Black Forest Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Steam
Post-apocalypse games are usually easy to throw together. Basically some Big Event happens, causing the world to fall into chaos where it's okay to do Bad Things to keep yourself alive. A lot of developers fall down the zombie route because it's an easy way to thin the herd of humans and create plenty of enemies. I've been worn out on the zombie trope for a long time, and I really haven't dived deep into a game featuring zombies since Resident Evil 2 (we're talking original release here). Therefore, it's a frigid breath of fresh air to see a game like Fade to Silence. While we're still leaning on a post-apocalyptic crutch, we get to see a different terror manifest: nature itself.
Rather than dealing with hordes of undead, the bitter cold is your worst enemy. Snow dynamically piles up, and the harsh cold becomes deadly at night. Your mysterious evil tentacled enemy has plans for our hero Ash, and will resurrect him upon death back at his base camp. You have the choice to play in a permadeath mode that allows you to use a "Circle of Torment" to fight against the traditional "lose everything" attitude. You have to manage your resources and support any other survivors you find. It is the recommended way to go, as this is the only way you can earn trophies. There is also an Exploration mode for gamers looking to enjoy the story without the punishments. Resources are infinite and your fellow survivors are much more resilient.
The game states that you can turn this solo survival adventure into a co-op game upon finding your first fellow survivor. Personally I was unable to test this given prerelease status. In solo mode these extra survivors can be sent to do some of the more menial tasks, like collecting firewood. Basic tasks like this are necessary for survival, as the frigid temperatures and general hunger are your worst enemies. When embarking on an adventure you must decide what supplies to take with you and something as simple as time of day leaving could mean the difference between life and death. As you recruit new survivors your camp will be able to craft better gear to venture out and learn what you can do to push back the eternal winter. Eventually you are able to even create a sled dog expedition to reach the furthest lands.
While our main hero is the quiet, stoic type, the raspy voice of our antagonist is constantly in his head, discouraging him from success. Dark Eldritch monsters erupt from the ground, and black veiny carpets corrupt the land. The evil black monstrosities contrast sharply with the deadly white winter and make you feel as if everything can be deadly. Hunting and scavenging for supplies is just as important as pressing the story forward. Every decision counts, and some may be deep moral choices. Playing on the Permadeath mode offers you limited lives and can be very unforgiving. I do like the option of an easier route but get discouraged at certain things being behind difficulty walls, in this case the trophy list. I felt that some of the controller button choices were odd, such as jump on R1, bows on the R2/L2 and melee attacks on square and triangle, but as time went on I got used to it. Personally, I don't like jump being up there, especially with another attack button right next to it. There don't appear to be any controller modification options.
Fade to Silence offers a new take on the apocalyptic landscape that I haven't seen in any major releases. It offers some wonderful combination ideas, such as a deep survival sim with an intriguing storyline or both those crossed with the chance to go multiplayer. Gamers can go into the fully unforgiving traditional difficulty and face permadeath or still enjoy what the game has to offer in exploration mode. I found the controls and combat a bit clunky but feel that you can get used to most of the awkwardness. The "lock on" is helpful but gets a little wonky when dealing with multiple enemies at once. Most of the time you won't be locking on to your greatest enemy, as you frantically find shelter to prevent freezing to death. It's a great rejuvenation of the survival genre. After games like Days Gone stutter out of the gate with the same-old zombie style apocalypse, it feels vindicating to face the arctic cold, stare into the void, and overcome it against all odds.
-Fresh take on the apocalyptic wasteland
-Co-op mode promises a unique take on a story based survival game
-Create a sled dog team for big adventures
-Controls can be clunky at times
-Permadeath isn't for everyone
Special Thanks to THQ Nordic and Black Forest Games for providing a code for review!