In my quest to find something to scratch an itch similar to my experience with the survival game The Forest, the newly released Fade to Silence popped up on my radar. Instead of a vast island with climes from tropical to northern tundra, you play as Ash, a survivor of some world-ending disaster who must brave the permanent winter blanketing the new landscape. What starts as small excursions into the unknown for food and fuel soon become full out expeditions in search of survivors, resources, and hoping to cleanse the world of the evil consuming it.
Dine and Dash
Ash and his daughter Allie have found a relatively sheltered nook in which they’ve built a small outpost to call home. The strange crystals jutting out from the earth around them provide some protection from the horrific monsters wandering outside. Food and wood is scarce. Armed with nothing but a torch (initially), you’ll take Ash out as far as you feel safe in search of roots, scrap, and firewood. Basic tools can be fashioned by sitting down at your lit campfire, things like axes to fell healthy trees and bows to hunt for fresh meat. A new tool means venturing out just a bit further next time, better equipped to slaughter the things lurking in the snow.
An important yet unsettling tool you have from the very beginning is your Inner Vision. Triggering this mode allows Ash to see what resources are nearby. It also allows him to spot stash boxes and shelter locations, all good things to have a finger on when you see the storm clouds closing in. You don’t want Ash to freeze to death when a blizzard sets in, or be so overcome by hunger to collapse, becoming fodder for the monsters.
We’re Not Alone
As you become more comfortable and venture further out into the unknown, Ash will discover there are others out there. People with the same tenacity and refusal to die as he has. People with unique skills that would be an asset to the camp he and Allie have started. Fade to Silence provides you with several followers to find and invite to join your camp. Some of these you will find out in the wild, others will show up on their own. Each one has a unique story to share with you. As they open up and share their deepest, darkest secrets with you, their trust in you will grow, thus expanding their crafting repertoire and becoming more useful to the camp.
Make your new residents feel welcome by building huts, defenses, and crafting stations in your refuge. I recommend starting with the butcher and woodcarver huts; once you’ve depleted the resource nodes you’ve claimed you’ll need to have your people process the tainted wood and meat in your stores into usable materials until you locate and claim new nodes. You can allow your followers to choose which tasks to do, too. Giving them the freedom to act on their own when you can seems to help gain their trust a little quicker, but I’m not a hundred percent certain if that is a game mechanic or just my wishful thinking.
We all know these survival games have things that go bump in the night. Fade to Silence has these aplenty. From your lower end Spitters and Rippers to the bigger baddies that lie in wait as you get closer to the source of the madness, Ash is never completely safe. Hell, there’s even a flipped, turned upside down chunk of Earth called the Eclipse that stalks you, dropping evil exploding vines and massive debris in the hopes of crushing you, literally. The worst encounter I’ve had with this damnable thing was while I was cleansing a new outpost; it was bad enough I was taking on three Soul Rippers and two Impalers while on the verge of hypothermia, but then cars began raining down from the sky.
Perhaps the most dangerous of all of the creatures in this game is known as the Inner Voice. Always whispering in Ash’s ear, the Inner Voice taunts you, wants you to doubt yourself and give up. He laughs at your attempts to thwart him, he brushes off any headway you make as nothing more than a slight annoyance. He is that doubt every one of us has lurking in the furthest recesses of our minds. He claims to be the mastermind behind everything we encounter beyond our refuge. And honestly, I’m not looking forward to finding out otherwise.
Hardcore or Chill?
Fade to Silence offers the player two styles of gameplay. You can be a little more chill and face slightly weaker versions of enemies in Exploration mode, where dying does not affect your progress. Everything is just a bit more forgiving here. I started out in this mode, getting the lay of the land and figuring out how it all works. It was much like getting thrown in head first in Don’t Starve. When you first meet Ash and Allie, there’s the smoldering wreckage of a previous settlement in your refuge which had me slightly confused. And then I died. And the Inner Voice brought me back. And then I understood.
But if you are in it for the trophies, you’ll need to hit up Fade to Silence‘s Survival mode. Here, death has consequences. Ash holds three Flames of Hopes when you begin a game in this mode, each one providing a safe reincarnation. Once these run out, you can still resurrect our hero but things will be noticeably altered. If you have collected any Boon tokens (so far I’ve only found these once I’ve cleared an outpost), they will be applied to your next life as Ash. One of these grants bonus wood reserves at the start of the “new” game, while others might affect which huts remain or if any followers are still with you. Additional Flames of Hope can be tracked down and added to your life counter.
Live Die Repeat
Not everything is roses in this winter wasteland. I’ve encountered several hiccups in Fade to Silence, and they’ve happened in both Exploration and Survival mode. The voice acting is very hit or miss; the cutscenes that piece together what the hells even happened here are atrociously hammy, while the heart to hearts with your followers have much more depth and realism. Frame rate suffers dramatically when using the dog sled more often than not, and with it the graphics.
The game has flat out crashed on me three times, all in Survival mode, all on the same day. Once was right after a trophy unlocked, and then again four minutes later in the same spot after I re-loaded the game. Kind of soured me on playing any more that day.
There have been several times when followers don’t show up correctly. At one event location no follower spawned at all until I restarted the game. Often in my camp I’ve noticed my followers walking underneath the camp location. This is particularly annoying when one of them wishes to talk to Ash but is in the ground and not up beside the training grounds. All have easily been fixed by shutting down and restarting the game, but it really needs to be patched up ASAP.
All in all, Fade to Silence has been an enjoyable experience for me. It’s got the resource management and camp building that I seem to be drawn to and challenging but not Soulsbourne level enemies to tackle. The glitches are easily fixed with patches (knock on wood that they are in the pipeline), and there’s a decently sized map to explore with hidden passages and caverns to loot.
Fade to Silence review code provided by publisher. Version 1.04 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.