by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
One of my only irrational fears (right behind a fear of spiders) stems from an incident in my high school years, where while exploring the woods by myself near my home on a snowy afternoon, I ended up face down in an old creek-bed. I knocked myself out for a time that I’m not exactly certain, I can’t imagine it had been more than a few minutes considering there was no obvious signs of injury or anything beyond being briefly knocked out. On top of that I couldn’t feel my face, having been laying on the cold ground. I sat up, shakily stood and got myself reoriented, and after struggling to climb up the snow-covered edges of the creek-bed I began the sluggish trek back home.
I probably had a concussion, thankfully I didn’t have frostbite, but the incident left me with an irrational fear. Not a fear of snow, or of the cold, or even the woods. It’s the fear of freezing to death. As such, winter can be a bit of an adrenaline rush for me now; life doesn’t stop for a silly fear like that. But the trips back and forth to work on snowy days sure get my blood pumping, and while I know the fear is there I just indulge in the adrenaline rush instead of trying to linger on that fear. When Fade to Silence was dropped in my lap, I knew three things. I knew it was a survival game with some horror elements, and I knew it took place in a frozen wasteland of a world long gone not unlike The Long Dark. I knew I wanted the adrenaline rush that it looked to promise.
Ash And Snow
The game comes with two modes of play; Exploration and Survival. Exploration is a way for the player to enjoy the game without fear of permanent death. Survival however, only gives you three shots. Lose your life three times, and the last time is final and you’ll have to start again from square one.
Players take on the role of Ash as he is awoken by a strange creature, or more accurately, resurrected, into a cold, brutal hell-scape. The world is now trapped in endless winter, where cold gray skies are the norm, snow drifts are guaranteed, and blizzards often threaten those braving this new existence. But more than the weather itself, monsters of various sorts now infest the lands all around.
First and foremost, the combat is boring. It’s not bad, it’s just boring. Attack combinations are few and far between, and most enemies are just a mix of spamming hit with occasional strafing or dodging if you find yourself in a spot where their attacks actually threaten you. If you are fighting more than a handful of enemies at once, it may require some fancy footwork but as for the mechanics themselves, it’s nothing special. A hack and slash of the monotonous variety.
The other half of the gameplay though, the survival mechanics, are great. Gathering supplies out in the wilds and then using them to slowly build up from a meager camp, to a pretty impressive survivalists haven is rewarding, and it doesn’t always require you to be immediately on hand to accomplish your goals. As you gather people to join your camp, you can assign them different tasks that will build up your base while you’re out in the wild gathering, fighting, and trying to piece together the mysteries of this world.
The longer you survive, the further and further out from your home camp you’ll have to traverse. Everything, from the weather to the hostiles in the environment, become more and more tenacious in their pursuits to end you. As if that wasn’t enough, the looming threat of a large floating sphere of debris and dark essences hovers over the land and at times itself becomes a threat as chunks and pieces fall from it threatening to crush whoever comes beneath it. It’s a dangerous world out there, but Fade To Silence gives you the tools to survive it. I just wish they gave a larger threat from the actual enemies within it.
Cooked On High, But Frozen In The Middle
Fade To Silence is a game that pushes all the right buttons, but it doesn’t push some of them quite hard enough. In a survival game, it’s important for hostile threats to be just as important as the resource gathering, management, and base building. The idea is there, the environment is there, but the mechanics are only half there when one half is a rather addictive base management system and the other half is overly simplistic combat.
A beautiful yet haunting endless winter environment, addictive survival mechanics and base building
Overly simplistic combat is a detriment to the experience