Part of what made Don’t Starve successful was the art style, with the other part being the survival mechanics. Players are essentially forced to figure out what needs to be done, how to do it and go from on the verge of death, to someone that can survive whatever life throws at them. This doesn’t hold quite true for Fade to Silence but the core concepts are very similar. With shadowy monsters, some kind of backstory and a world to explore, is it an adventure you’ll want to brave the elements for or is it better left for the cold.
Much to Fade to Silence’s credit, it features a chilling cold open. A mysterious force essentially mentions your suffering is not over and you awake in a odd temple. Following a brief tutorial and obtaining the most basic of items, you see a city burned down, with all this progress being destroyed in an instant. After this you’re tasked with rebuilding this city, which means you need supplies, followers, plans and the means to accomplish all of this.
The introduction does a good job of giving players a task, without it seeming too forced. You want to survive and this is not something you can do alone. Fade to Silence also recognizes it can be confusing, so after a small tutorial, you’re left to figure it out.
Figuring out what you need to do can be overwhelming but it follows a fairly logical path. Even if you know the end goal is overcoming this monster, finding people and building a society, the beginning is all about surviving and this comes down to three key things. You need supplies, food and warmth or you’ll die.
None of these things, well besides food, are terribly complicated, which is why you start by finding wood for fire. Typically firewood is found near trees and then lit in predetermined places. This will allow you to sleep and survive blizzards, another common cause of death, meaning it’s extremely important to pay attention to. As time passes you need to eat, though food typically comes from hunting. Most weapons come from finding wood, fiber and metal and then crafting something like a bow. Using these tools you can kill animals, collect meat that you need to cook and ultimately eat.
Once the basic gameplay cycle is out of the way, Fade to Silence is about exploration and seeing what is out there. Different spots will offer certain advantages and disadvantages, with your society hinging on your ability to meet demands. Too many people with not enough resources is just as bad as too many resources and not enough people. As you get to new locations, there will also be hostile, seemingly supernatural forces, leading to various discoveries.
Despite this being the intended method of play, something that builds to a bigger and more fascinating adventure, it can take a while to get there. Simply finding the supplies, how to utilize everything and obtaining a weapon that can actually do some damage to enemies can take an hour of so, with the actual community being a much larger investment. Depending on your patience and ability to micromanage everything, this alone can be rather discouraging.
It also doesn’t help that Fade to Silence is designed in a way that will lead to your end on more than one occasion. Weather is one of the hardest to account for elements and while the dynamic weather system is interesting, it means you either figure out how it works or your death is assured.
Thankfully, the death system has a nice balance in regards to punishment. Players start with a couple items that revive you upon death and you need to find more or simply survive or it’s all over. The nice thing is, progression typically yields them, so if you remain stagnate for too much, you will eventually fall.
Where things tend to fall apart is combat and graphics. Things tend to go extremely slow, to the point where it can impact excitement, with enemies being rather simple. As you get better weapons they lose some fight and being overwhelmed can quickly lead to death, but cautious players should be able to either blindly attack through or create openings, regardless of there being a stamina bar.
As for graphics, the world looks kind of fuzzy, something that is fine during most sections, it’s combat that looks really bad. There are times when I would genuinely believe I’m playing a PlayStation 2 game, something that likely won’t sit right with a lot of players. Less exciting areas tend to be fine, it’s just when too many processes occur do things go downhill.
The best way to explain Fade to Silence is that its designed with a specific player in mind. You need to have that desire to deal with micromanaging and drive to pick up, use and explore every place. If you’re looking for a more combat or story driven adventure, this likely won’t appeal to you, even if the events leading to this situation are eventually revealed. Because, at the end of the day, Fade to Silence does survival phenomenally well, it just isn’t terribly interesting or check enough boxes to appeal to a wider demographic.
[Editor’s Note: Fade to Silence was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]