FATED: The Silent Oath Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
48,651 (32,145)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 352
Posted on 26 April 17 at 21:43, Edited on 27 April 17 at 10:11
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FATED: The Silent Oath | PS4 | Review

A Norse-themed narrative experience, FATED: The Silent Oath sees players assume the role of a mute, Viking protagonist, having traded their voice for their life to a mythical Valkyrie. When your clan find their homes ransacked and razed, you begin a journey through Ragnarök - the cataclysmic end times - in a story packed with familiar lore and eager to draw emotional response from the player.

Unfortunately, FATED doesn’t put its strongest foot forward from the off. The opening sequence requires you to crane your head to the side for a prolonged length of time, which induced neck ache before things even really got started. More significantly, the first 40% or so of the film-length runtime suffers through some dreary pacing, as the game focuses entirely on setup.

After settling on your preferred comfort options from the extensive range available - though notably absent is a sprint ability for virtual reality aficionados - you’ll slowly wander around and interact with oddly proportioned characters in captivated bemusement brought on by their ropy animations and voiceover. When you can hear the VO, that is, because there’s something off about the audio mix too - expect to do some tinkering with the separate levels in the options menu, along with your master volume.

Despite its issues, the early game isn’t without merit. You’ll organically nod or shake your head to indicate a response during dialogue, which isn’t just a novelty, but a contextualised way to really ground the player in a role already more immersive than most thanks to the nature of a first-person VR experience. Environments also enjoy a boost from your chosen pair of future goggles (the game's also available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive), which breathe life into the vibrant locales as you get up close and personal with the smallest details and enjoy vistas way off on the horizon.

Once you’ve surmounted the mostly laborious opening chapters, which closely adhere to the “narrative experience” label, FATED blossoms into an honest to goodness adventure. The game remains strictly linear, but new gameplay mechanics are successfully introduced to increase active engagement with occasionally great effect. You’ll carefully traverse a dark cave system by torchlight while solving puzzles and dodging imposing traps, steer a horse-drawn cart under threat from an unseen (but very much heard) pursuer, and face unnerving encounters with an enormous jötunn - a race of Norse giants. It can be genuinely thrilling, which is a stark contrast to the game’s meagre beginning.

Once you’ve surmounted the mostly laborious opening chapters, FATED blossoms into an honest to goodness adventure.
Not only does FATED improve from a gameplay perspective at the tail end, but by tightening its cast it allows them the space and time to develop, and, as a direct result, the character-driven story begins to take shape. It’s at this point the journey concludes, however, with an ending that succeeds in tugging at your heartstrings, if only because it’s inherently tragic. While many will find it unsatisfactory, we’d rather be left wanting more than wishing a flagging game was over, and we definitely wanted more.

In the end, FATED: The Silent Oath is a little too ambitious for its own good; developer Frima had good intentions, though ultimately crippled themselves by sticking to a feature length presentation. If roles were reversed - adventure had been the forethought with narrative occupying a background role - the game would have made a better impression, but as it is, it’s a story-driven game that falls just short of spinning an inspiring yarn. Considering its reasonable price, occasional moments of excellence and will to experiment in a new medium, it gets a cautious recommendation in spite of its flaws.

Pros

+ Some great set pieces
+ Gorgeous environments
+ Mute protagonist and nod/shake mechanic aid immersion
+ Really starts to take shape in the latter half...

Cons

- … then ends somewhat unceremoniously
- Plodding, uneventful opening
- Some poor animations and dodgy acting

6/10

Trophies

FATED has an incredibly easy list, just finish the game to unlock them all.

Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

Thanks for reading!
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