Fade to Silence is an action survival game set in an apocalyptic winter. The game was developed by Black Forest and published by THQ Nordic. Fade to Silence doesn’t quite hit the AAA price benchmark, and is instead available on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 for $49.99 ($39.99 digitally), and became available on April 30th, 2019.
Silence Rings Too Often
The narrative of Fade to Silence is simultaneously too simple, and too confusing. You play as a character named Ash. We know almost nothing about Ash. We know he is kind of possessed by the antagonist of the game named Eclipse who forces him to endlessly reincarnate if he fails his goal, and we know he has a daughter. She isn’t important.
His goal is to build a refuge and escape the winter. So, the player has to find resources, hunt, gather followers, and build a community. But constant attacks from the Eldritch monsters make this difficult. Because of this, you also fight monsters, and take over outposts by defeating their Guardians, which for the most part are just normal monsters you can find in the world anyway.
Unfortunately the game doesn’t tell you much else. You will have opportunities to choose what kind of person you want to be with dialogue options between you and your followers, but these decisions don’t carry any weight. That and a lot of the dialogue is cheesy, or just not very well written. The team over at Black Forest are German natives, so I’ll let some of this slide with the potential effects that translation had on the game.
For the most part, the story is basically non existent, and the game’s inability to guide the player leave the point of the game up for debate. Fade to Silence suffers from a severe lack of focus, and a lack of depth. A few ten second long cut-scenes aren’t enough to develop a story. Neither are a handful of conversations, that again serve no purpose. Your followers as a whole are not narrative tools. Sure, they all have backgrounds. But they don’t impact the overall story at all. You could miss every single follower and get the same story. Their only purpose is to build and craft for you.
Fade to Clumsiness
The combat is also very flawed. It comes off similar to Dark Souls, however not in the difficulty aspect. You have a light and heavy attack, and pair this with dodging and parrying which all drains your stamina. Memorizing enemies movement patterns is also important for survival. The downside is how clunky it all feels. You move so slowly that dodging almost never works. No matter what, the enemies are able to catch you. So, you’re left to abuse the parry system. Which is very easy to abuse. You parry, mash attack, wait, and repeat. Some enemies attacks can’t be parried, but that brings us to a whole other issue.
Some of the enemies are broken. One type of monster is named the Stalker. They have insanely fast attacks that you really can’t do anything to avoid. I mean anything. They will go right through any kind of cover. From walls, rocks, trains, whatever. The actors used do not conflict with the setting actors. It auto locks on you, and nothing will stop it.
Fortunately, the combat isn’t extremely present. Usually you will only have to fight one monster at a time, and even then it isn’t very often. The gameplay that truly shines is the survival mechanics.
In order to survive in Fade to Silence, you have to keep track of Ash’s temperature and hunger. On top of this, keeping your followers well fed and warm is also essential to survival. You also have a meter that tells you when Eclipse is going to unleash another attack on your base. These attacks are small, and really easy, so don’t stress about them too much. The hardest part are the blizzards. They come out of nowhere, and if you cannot find a shelter location fast, will result in your death.
There’s also a crafting system. You can craft basic materials, tools, and potions. Anything more advanced requires you to have a follower build the correct hut. So, if you want metal working to be done, you have to build the forge. Each follower also has three skills that they are adept in. These skills directly align with the time of buildings used for crafting. So, in order to craft something from the forge, you need a follower with the metalworking skill. The downside to this, is that all of the building takes too long. Due to the amount of resources your followers use, and the fact they need rest, means a nine hour job might take days to complete.
Keeping your supplies high is very hard. Your followers use an incredible amount of resources per day, and it takes a long time for this to begin to ease up. That’s where the fun mostly comes in. Having to push your exploration further and further to keep supplies coming, and building new huts that amp up supply production.
Difference in Modes
There are two modes for Fade to Silence. The first is an easier, more casual mode with infinite lives and no achievements. The second is the standard mode. You have a limited number of lives before it results in a permanent death, and you have to start over. Somethings you acquire are permanent ever after this. There are stones you can acquire that upgrade various stats for Ash, and every Outpost you take rewards you with a Boon. Upon your final death you can use these Boons to keep some of the stuff that you found during your lifespan.
The permadeath isn’t without faults however. Everything in the game resets. All outposts, all hunting grounds, everything. The game puts a focus on you suffering this mechanic multiple times as you acquire more Boons. But this just makes the game insanely repetitive. Falling to it once, and then beating the game is the ideal level of repeated game play (and it is possible to do so), but truly it just isn’t worth the effort otherwise.
The game has a lot of mechanical issues. There was just an 8GB update that aimed to fix some issues with the game, so it’s better than it was during the majority of my review. But there are still issues to discuss. The game is infested with bugs, and since it’s been in early access for over a year, that’s not good.
Frame rate drops are one of the biggest issues. When running it drops to around 20FPS, and when using a dog sled it feels even worse. Probably closer to the 10-15FPS range. It is so sluggish that it causes headaches. Combat is also a place where the FPS drop significantly.
It doesn’t stop there. Assets consistently fail to load properly. Stairs, buildings, trees, paths will appear long after the player does on such a constant basis that it becomes annoying. Wanted to enter this outpost? Sorry, you have to wait outside for an extra fifteen seconds for the stairs to load.
Your followers will randomly die, dialogue from people at your camp will show up on screen when you’re dozens of miles from your camp, and sometimes you’ll be kicked from the map completely. Everything is even worse when using the game’s co-op functions too. Plus, you can’t press A while around your friend, because every time you do it pulls up their gamer tag. You don’t even have to be right next to them for this to happen.
This game should have been delayed again, probably for another half a year at the least. This game has so much potential to be great, but it was never given a true polish or the budget it deserves.
Fading into Multiplayer
The multiplayer is an active co-op experience. You create an expedition with one of your followers, which basically just means they follow you now, and then invite your friend to your game, or vice versa. They take control of your follower. Nothing else about the game changes. Keep doing what you were doing but with a friend. The game is a lot more fun with some joining you, but the bugs are a lot worse. Plus the game can barely handle the co-op, so be prepared to be kicked from the game.
Regardless, it creates an experience similar to the early Minecraft days, but more adult. You’re running around chopping down trees, mining, and building with a buddy in a survival environment. Fade to Silence isn’t nearly as good as Minecraft though, despite the similar feelings it gives off.
The Art of Winter
The graphics are rough. They look as bad as an early Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 game, but is a game published by THQ Nordic in 2019. The human characters almost look as if they were not rendered properly, or are actually wax statues. The monsters look pretty great, they give off an air of intensity and death. But that isn’t enough to save the game from the just awful graphics that embody the entire game.
Add the bad graphics to the horrible frame rates, and this game just became unplayable for a large pool of players. On the upside, this game might be salvaged on PC by modders. Like I said before, there’s a ton of potential in this game. It just never lives up to it.
The Winds of Winter
There isn’t a lot of music in the game. Primarily at the title screen. It’s good title screen music, not anything superb but it works. The general audio is hit or miss though. If Ash is starving you just hear constant groans and stomach grumblings. Non stop you hear these noises.
Because of this, it is really annoying to play with sound on. Sound isn’t very necessary either. You will always hear monster noises, whether some are nearby or not, so that also gets annoying. Plus the voice acting in cutscenes lacks inflection consistently. For the most part the dialogue comes off across as very one note.
Take the insignificance mentioned earlier of all the dialogue the game has, and all it manages to do is further detract from the game. I would recommend turning the sound down almost all the way, and turning on your gaming playlist instead.
It is important to stress that the game was just given an 8GB update. The majority of my time with this review was spent prior to the update, but I did clock in as many hours as I could with this new update to see what changed.
All of the bugs and mechanical errors mentioned earlier are still present. The frame rate drops seem to be slightly improved, but are still far too noticeable. This was the biggest aspect that I was hoping was improved, but alas.
My followers aren’t randomly dying anymore, but no matter how many times I perform the revive function on them, they never get up. They also aren’t randomly glitching through the map anymore or winding up in a state where they do nothing.
I have tirelessly tried to locate exact patch notes, but I have found nothing. Some of the issues that seemed to be resolved might not actually be fixed, and instead just didn’t fail the times I tested it for once.
Despite the potential that Fade to Silence has, there is no denying that this is a bad game. It suffers from poor game play, poor development, lack of polishing, a useless narrative, unbalanced difficulty, a lack of focus, outrageous levels of repetition, the problems with this game just go on and on. However, this doesn’t change one thing. I had a ton of fun with this game. The $49.99 price tag is really steep for the quality of the game you’re getting. But for a second, imagine that really god awful movie, that you love to death because of how fun that movie was to watch. That was Fade to Silence for me.
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- THE GOOD
- Strong Survival Aspects
- A lot of Potential
- THE BAD
- Awful graphics
- Annoying audio
- Infested with Bugs
- Poor FPS
- Consistent Frame Rate Drops
- Clunky Combat
- Pointless Narrative
- Lack of Focus
Fade to Silence is not a great game. It isn’t even a good game. It’s a very bad game, that somehow manages to avoid fading into silence itself, by creating a fun experience if tackled correctly. Unfortunately, the game is extremely overpriced for the quality of the game inside. I do not recommend this game for anyone, unless you truly believe it will be worth it.