Despite the clunky combat and confusing crafting system, my time with Fade to Silence was mostly fun, with many memorable moments.

In Fade to Silence, the earth has turned into a post-apocalyptic frozen world, where horrific eldritch monstrosities roam free. To survive, you’ll need to explore the wasteland, battling both the dynamic weather and the Lovecraftian horrors, look for resources, and seek other survivors that can help expand your haven.

Fade to Silence wants to be a lot of things: a survival game with RPG elements, with eerie story and characters straight out of a horror game. It’s a valiant effort, but the game ends up spread just a little too thin.

Too Much or Not Enough

When you first start the game, you are presented with a choice in difficulty: Normal or “Exploration.” Both are relatively similar, with Normal mode being just slightly harder. The main difference is the penalty for dying.

Exploration mode doesn’t at all penalize you for dying. Once you die, you respawn back at your base with all the items you gathered still in your backpack. I used this system to teleport back to my haven instead of walking all the way back there on foot.

On Normal, on the other hand, you have a limited number of lives – once you use them all, it’s back to square one like you never even played the game. You do get a small buff every time you die, yet it’s not enough to keep you from breaking something in frustration after you invested ten hours only to die by due to the game’s unbalanced combat system.

Combat is Monstrously Uneven

Whenever I found myself in a combat situation, I cried out loud, asking myself, “why?” Not because I abhor violence in video games, but because fighting is the game’s low point and a real nuisance. Combat is way too basic, with clunky controls, unbalanced stamina system, very slow recovery animations, and overpowered enemy attacks that can clip through objects, leaving you nowhere to run. Add the significant amount of bugs, and you got yourself a recipe for plenty of frustrating deaths.

Stalkers are monstrously unbalanced

There are six different types of monsters in the game, four of which feel completely unbalanced. First, you’ll meet the Spitter, which you’ll get sick of pretty quickly since they are all over the map and almost never miss you with their ranged attack. Whenever I went out to get resources or travel from point A to B with my sled, I got shot by one. The second, the Reaper, is your more basic monster – it moves slowly around the map and deals an unhealthy chunk of damage without leaving you much room to counter or dodge. A pack of more than two Reapers is almost certain death.

The Stalker is the one you’ll probably hate the most. While they are pretty rare, their attacks are almost impossible to avoid – once they get you in their sights, they launch themselves like an arrow towards you, and you’re going to take a lot of damage. The Feeder is the worst since you cannot avoid its attacks once you’re within range. It shoots its tongue at you from a distance, pulling you in and then attacking you, and it can do that over and over again. The Hellvine and the Crusher are the only monsters that are tough but fair.

Crafting Is Needlessly Complex

The crafting system is also a bit unwelcoming. To craft anything beyond tier one, you’ll need to find particular ingredients, then build a specific place to process them. Half of these items require you to find other survivors with a specific skill set. You’ll run around through different shacks (which you’ll first need to build) to find out in which you can make what you need and which NPC can help you, and then process several different resources that require time and various skills.

Only then you can start crafting the desired tool or weapon. It’s all very complex for seemingly no good reason.

Fade to Silence review: Base-building

This complexity hides how minimalistic the crafting system is. Ultimately, there is a small number of items that are of any use to the player, and only three tiers of them. You end up investing much time, thought and resources into the crafting, for only small changes in gameplay, none of which makes the game more interesting.

Don’t Freeze Together

Surviving in the world of Fade to Silence is actually quite fun and chill, pun intended. The basics work out like most surviving games: you go out, hunt for food to stay alive and gather materials to craft better items to upgrade your camp, which in turn lets you craft even better equipment. Though for that, you will need followers.

Followers are essentially random NPCs you come across in the wild and need to rescue, which sadly involves fighting. Once you have a follower on your side, you can tell them to get resources, expand your base, and craft special items using their unique skills, which is a nice touch. Of course, they can also accompany you while you go out exploring. Luckily, your followers are quite smart and can handle themselves when you leave them alone. They will easily manage the tasks you assign them at camp or go out for resources by themselves and according to their own skills.

Fade to Silence review: Co-op

Once you recruit a follower, you can start playing in co-op mode, with the second player controlling one of your followers. Since the game is rather slow-paced and not so stressful when played in Exploration mode, two players can enjoy the story together. Co-op mode is suitable for hardcore survival gamers, but mostly for those new to the genre since it doesn’t punish you for dying. The main problem is that Fade to Silence supports online co-op only, which is a shame since the game is mostly ideal for a combination of an experienced player and an inexperienced one working and communicating together.

Listen to My Story

Fade to Silence is mostly a survival game, yes, but there is a pretty good story mixed in all of that. You play the role of Ash, who wakes up in a crypt to the sound of the “Inner Voice.” As you progress through the game, you will slowly reveal Ash’s and his family’s past and why the world in the state that it is.

Though the story is not as full and rich as you’d expect, it does prove usual as a means of keeping you going forward and find out what happened. Yes, there is an ending to the game, and it even has a nice twist. However, I was disappointed with how the story was told. The writing is lovely and has potential, but the devs choose to tell the story in the most boring way they could: audio logs that feel utterly disconnected from the gameplay. I think if the plot were had a little more weight to it, and included actual cutscenes and visuals, it would have elevated the entire game.

The Inner Voice

The most exciting part of the story is your interaction with the Inner Voice, whose voice actor does a marvelous job. It is a sort of ghost, a shadow that keeps discouraging you, making the game feel as if it’s true intentions is to show the fight of a mentally ill person between hope and depression – something that I think more people need to see or experience.

Survive in a Beautiful Frozen Wasteland

Fade to Silence is a very visually pleasing experience, which almost made me forget the problems I have with it. Weather effects continuously change: snow becomes denser during, making it hard to walk through it and reach shelter; when it gets a bit warmer, grass and new paths emerge from under the frost. The wind has a different effect on the trees and the clothes you and your followers wear, and the monsters walking around look and sound beautifully horrific like they just walked out of someone’s nightmare. The attention to detail in the environments you explore is mind-blowing, and as I ventured out into the cold, I just fell in love with the scenery.

My only problem in that department was the lack of a soundtrack. Throughout the entirety of the game, there was not a single musical piece. I think music is crucial for setting the right mood, especially in a game with horror elements. Music controls the tone of any scene, and utterly change the experience.

Survive in a Beautiful Frozen Wasteland

Even with the clunky combat and the confusing crafting system, my time with Fade to Silence was mostly fun and relaxing, with many memorable moments (and some fights I’d rather forget). Still, I’d recommend waiting until the fighting system is updated – the developers seem to take note of player feedback and are currently working on revamping the combat. I’m sure Fade to Silence will transform to a better game with time. You just need to let it hibernate for a little longer.

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