Fade To Silence is a miserable game. Not because of its bitter, unforgiving winter wasteland, but simply because it’s boring. It’s far too enterprising for its own good, suffering from an overpowering ambition that drowns any potential for systems to thrive individually. It’s a bad Soulslike, a frustratingly tedious roguelike, and a bland survival game. None of these aspects are refined or engaging enough to make Fade To Silence worth experiencing.
Despite its Early Access period lasting 17 months, it still feels incomplete. Forced and uninteresting repeatability pads out this forgettable experience. This cycling loop, which resets your progress when you run out of lives, feels totally at odds with the survival experience. The core of Fade To Silence is about scavenging for materials and supplies. It’s about trying to get by on the bare minimum while fighting off Eldritch horrors. Building up your camp, recruiting survivors and sending them to fetch materials, exploring the mystery of the Lovecraftian nightmare plaguing the world. It’s all really solid stuff on paper.
Even if the execution of these ideas leaves something to be desired, it’s still an interesting premise. It’s the constant resetting of all your progress that makes the whole thing a tedious slog. There is some semblance of permanence, of course. You’ll find minor stat increases as you explore that increase your health, damage, resistance to the cold, and more. There’s also a skill tree you can add to when you die. This will allow you to start with your wolf-led sled, a weapon, some resources, and more. It certainly makes your runs progressively easier, ensuring you’re not starting out empty-handed. The problem is that the core loop is simply not fun.
Navigating Fade to Silence's Various Systems
The combat is bad. It’s a floaty, lifeless imitation of Dark Souls’ weighty and impactful fights. It’s a tiresome chore you’ll want to skip as often as you can. The poor combat becomes much more frustrating when the game starts throwing much tougher enemies at you. There’s no tangible sense of progression to cling to, nothing that makes you feel stronger and more capable. Just the clumsy dodges, aggressive stamina system, and your extremely basic moveset. You can craft a small assortment of different weapons, but they don’t make enough of a meaningful difference. The followers you acquire along the way accompany you on your adventures, lightening the load and pushing the odds in your favor, but they’re as flimsy and weak as you are.
There’s also a meager stealth system. Or, at least, it seems like there’s supposed to be. You can crouch-walk very slowly and there’s an indicator letting you know how much noise you’re making. Like most of Fade to Silence, I’m not entirely sure why it’s there. It feels like just another idea thrown onto the pile. It would be useful for hunting deer if it worked reliably. Instead, they’ll simply flee when you get too near (which isn’t that close) irrespective of the noise you’re making. Likewise, stealth is completely useless on enemies. Nasty Eldritch ghoulies can’t be snuck up on, and you can't get the upper-hand on them.
Meanwhile, the survival elements are undercooked. You chop down trees, hunt deer, and scavenge for materials. Using what you gather to cobble together warmer clothing, stronger armor, as well as food and health potions. It’s all in aid of keeping you alive longer. Keeping the meters ticking just a bit longer. None of it is even remotely satisfying or engaging, though. It just feels like busywork. Wandering through the frozen tundra during a blizzard is the closest Fade to Silence comes to creating any real tension. During these moments, you scramble to the nearest shelter in a blinding storm and stay warm. Unfortunately, they don’t last long and you’re right back to work after a momentary break.
Running in Circles in Fade to Silence
The crafting feels fairly robust. It lets you create anything on the fly as long as you’ve got the right stuff. The only problem is that it takes too long. For a game where you’re constantly crafting stuff, from torches and food to better equipment, you’d hope it would at least be snappy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Everything takes at least a couple of seconds and you can’t craft more than one thing at once. There’s no real reason for this. I assume it intends to make crafting in the wild a tense experience, but it only serves to make it more tedious.
The story is extremely light. A nasty Eldritch spirit rudely awakens you in a mysterious-looking temple. You wander outside and find everything on fire. Rescue your daughter from the monsters and begin your journey. Get used to doing this bit, because you have to do it every single time you start a new run. You'll be doing the tutorials every time, too. Your basic objective “explore, survive, and unearth the past” would be fine, if there was enough to actually uncover, but it’s incredibly sparse. There’s not a great deal of past to actually uncover, and the world is dull and lifeless.
Occasionally, your character gets a bit chatty, but the dialog is sparse (and not very well acted). Generally, you’ll meet someone, engage in a quick quest for them, and they’ll join your camp. As a member of the camp, they’ll pull their weight. They can gather resources and build buildings, but they don't do much outside of that. They feel very much like one-dimensional helpers. You can’t really chat with them and they don’t have especially interesting personalities, anyway. There’s a potentially fun relationship with your daughter, who eagerly awaits your return whenever you leave camp, but she’s just kind of there. Yet another wasted opportunity.
Fade to Silence Review | Final Thoughts
It’s not that I don’t like roguelikes. In fact, I love them. I actively seek out run-based games filled with repetitive content. However, this style of repetition needs to be done well. There has to be a fundamental solid core to keep me hooked. When the combat is poor, the survival mechanics are mediocre at best, and the world is empty and lifeless, there’s not much for me to cling onto. It doesn’t help that the execution of these ideas is weak. You start from the very beginning, go through the tutorials (every time), and start building your base from scratch. The map fogs up once more, all the resources nodes reset, and you’ll need to find your followers once more. It just feels like a frustratingly tedious way to pad out the game’s length.
Because of this, Fade to Silence ultimately feels like a chore. Everything is a tedious bore. There’s a potentially interesting world here, but it’s simply not worth exploring. There isn’t enough meat to the narrative to make it worth seeing. The combat is clumsy and the survival mechanics are far from competitive with other games. There are some nice ideas here, but unfortunately, they just don’t pan out well enough.
TechRaptor reviewed Fade to Silence on PC via Steam with a copy provided by THQ Nordic. It’s also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
- Potentially Interesting World
- Clunky, Underwhelming Combat
- Wonky Voice-Acting
- Frustrating Repeating Loop
- Way Too Many Ideas