Episodic gaming is a thing, VR is a thing, so why not mash the two up again? Fated: The Silent Oath is the first episode of a VR adventure game that puts you in the role of a father in a world of Norse mythology. Your job is to protect your family no matter the cost, and you'll be exploring some interesting locations to do so. Does the episode provide an intriguing arc, or should you find other VR games to play?
You play as Ulfr, a father who has just run into the problem that he's dead. Luckily he's offered a second chance by a Valkyrie. He can have his life extended on the condition that he gives up his voice. Doing this, Ulfr is brought back to life and must return to protecting his family. After a disaster destroyed their hometown, all that's left is Ulfr, his wife and daughter, his wife's sister and her son, and his wife's father. The six of them must travel to the other side of a mountain, try and reestablish their lives, and figure out what caused the disaster that took out their home.
The problem is that Fated throws a bunch of plot strings in the air, lets them flutter to the ground, and calls it a day. The beginning of the game suggests that there's a traitor in the clan that sold them out to giants to cause a disaster, and this is promptly never brought up again. A big deal is made about the Valkyrie having some grand plan, but lord knows what it is because the game doesn't really say. Ulfr has some kind of history with the Gods that lead him to a strong denial of their existence, but it's never brought up what that is outside of some vague lines. I appreciate it's trying to set up all these plot hooks for the second episode (apparently, only two are planned for Ulfr's story, with further episodes taking place "in the universe of Fated") but there's absolutely no story element concluded here.
Like many episodic games, there is a basic choice system, but none of the choices actually effect the plot or change anything other than some lines for flavor. What is far more interesting is how you actually make these choices. Because Ulfr is mute he can't just talk and say something, so instead, you make your choices by nodding your head for yes or shaking it for no. It's a smart mechanic that helps get me a little more involved in the drama. I just wish there were actual choices with actual consequences in the story.
As for the gameplay, the majority of Fated is either walking or talking. Rarely is this at the same time, much to my annoyance. I normally don't mind these "walking simulator" style of games, but Fated seemed to go out of its way to make it as lengthy and disruptive as possible. Often, I was blocked by invisible walls, characters standing in a line, or just losing control of my character. People would talk, and then silently walk to the next location before talking again. There was no reason why both of these events couldn't be combined into a single moment other than to try and draw out the game's length to the 2 hours it hits.
Occasionally you'll take a more active role. Early in the game, you have a single hunting session where you need to shoot some deer using a bow, and a little later you'll be driving your horse and carriage through a mountain path while avoiding an attacking giant. The latter is easily the most exciting segment in the game, and I was always waiting for the game to hit this level of drawing me in since. There are a few puzzles later in the game as well, but they're all so hilariously easy that they often come off as wastes of time. It's things like hitting buttons on a panel that correspond with buttons on a wall. Nothing that requires much in the way of critical thought.
If there's one thing that Fated has going for it, it's the strong art style. Fated is a great looking game, with some cool environmental and character designs. I had fun just taking in the setting and exploring at the slow speeds the game let me. There wasn't much to say about the soundtrack, and I don't really remember any of it after I finished the game. Voice acting was fine, but Fated suffered from a strange problem where each line had a 1-2 second pause between the next line. It was strange that the voice actors did their job well, but whoever mixed the audio seems to have dropped the ball in this regard.
If this is truly an episodic series, I'm not sure Fated: The Silent Oath is how it should have been introduced. Unable to really convey much of a story, seeming to include the worst parts of many of the genres it takes a stab at, with only a few escaping to better quality, and having some strange audio issues, I don't think I want to dive in when the next episode drops. This is an oath you should speak against.
Fated: The Silent Oath really wants to tell a personal story about family in VR. Instead it tells a boring story surrounded by mostly boring gameplay elements that is only occasionally brought up by some nice art design.
- Art Design Was Solid
- Giant Chase is Exciting
- Story Goes Nowhere
- Usually Boring
- Puzzles are Too Easy
- Voice Lines Have Awkward Pauses Between Them