PlayStation VR has enjoyed a lot of varied titles since it came out. A lot of them are being labeled as “experiences” because they don’t have a lot of interaction, and they tend to be an hour or two at the most.
While Fated: The Silent Oath could be called an “experience” I hesitate to use the term, if only because the game does a lot in its short runtime. So, does this viking VR game rise to the halls of Valhalla, or does it die a dishonorable death on the battlefields of gaming? Read on and find out!
A Viking’s Tale
Fated: The Silent Oath places a huge focus on storytelling. The game opens with your character standing face-to-face with a Valkyrie. You’re dying, but she offers you a chance to come back from the dead. In return, you must give her your voice.
This epic opening leads into a first-person romp that, while slow to start, quickly became one of my favorite experiences in virtual reality. The game is divided into acts that you can later select from on the main menu. The first act is a slow burn with some light gameplay elements and a hefty amount of character development and world building.
Once you get into the second act, Fated: The Silent Oath really builds up the experience with exciting and intense gameplay, puzzle solving, and some terrifying moments that are punctuated extremely well in VR.
The writing and voice acting are both very well done. It didn’t take long for me to get attached to these characters and their story. While the whole experience doesn’t last longer than an hour or two, it feels like you took a journey by the end and it leaves you with some very memorable moments.
My only complaint, is that the ending happens very abruptly and it feels like something that should have had multiple endings to provide more resolution. The game is supposed to be the first in a series, so the cliffhanger is most likely meant to lead into the sequel.
The latest communications online from the developer say that the groundwork is already laid for the second part and they’ll be working on it once the PSVR version is out, so it shouldn’t be too long of a wait.
Despite my minor complaints, the story is extremely well done and emotions run high in the later acts. Even with its abrupt ending, it’s well worth experiencing.
Varied Gameplay, Viking Approved
Many of the other “experiences” I’ve seen in VR tend to be passive in nature. They usually don’t employ a ton of gameplay or interactivity.
I’m pleased to report that Fated: The Silent Oath does not take this route. Over the course of my adventure I participated in hunting, steered a horse-drawn cart through some seriously scary situations, and even solved a few puzzles (trials as they called them).
The opening of the game can be a little slow to start. Your interactions will be limited to nodding or shaking your head, which is actually pretty cool, but otherwise you’re kind of strung along as the opening exposition plays out.
Since your voice was taken from you, when characters ask you questions, you respond with a nod or shake of the head and they react accordingly.
Once you get the chance to start moving around, you’ll move at a slow pace on foot. Turning is relegated to the staggered movement that many VR games use to negate nausea. There’s no option for smooth turning, unfortunately, but you can adjust how many degrees you rotate with each movement of the stick.
There are other comfort settings as well, which can be triggered using the up and down buttons on the d-pad, but I didn’t want or need any of them during my time.
While it doesn’t last incredibly long, Fated: The Silent Oath provided a nice variety of gameplay styles in its short runtime, and it did all of them with just enough depth to make them feel more like confident choices than afterthoughts to extend the experience.
When the action heats up in Fated: The Silent Oath, it provides some of the most harrowing experiences I’ve had in VR, and really sells the need for experiences like this to be done in virtual reality. This is another strong case where it just wouldn’t have been the same on a 2D screen.
Colorful and Unique Presentation That Pops in VR
Fated: The Silent Oath uses an art style that I’ve seen compared to a Disney film by way of World of Warcraft. Combining the two would certainly give you something akin to the way it looks on PlayStation VR, and that’s absolutely meant to be a compliment.
The first thing I noticed when playing, was the crisp colors that saturated every environment. Bright greens, reds, yellows, whites, and browns all fill each environment with a gorgeous amount of color.
It really is a beautiful world that Frima Studios has created, and the amount of color and detail really sells the sense of presence. I particularly loved the way fire crackled and embers rose through the air as I explored ancient underground caves and looked upon cryptic paintings.
The characters can come across a little stiff at times, but the voice acting does an amazing jobs of bringing them to life. The main character’s wife is a standout performance among other solid acting.
We can't finish this review without also discussing the music. The somber tones of the game's main theme come through exquisitely with soaring orchestral tones punctuated by piano melodies and the melodic singing of a choir in the background.
It conveys the depth, scale, and emotions of this uncertain and chaotic world perfectly and only adds to the intense emotions that the game conjures within the player.
Without spoiling any of the set pieces, I must say that Fated: The Silent Oath takes advantage of the scale in VR to provide you with gargantuan moments and claustrophobic challenges in equal measure. It’s an experience that really sells the power and potential of VR for both storytelling and immersion.
While it’s only an hour or two, Fated: The Silent Oath is something that every VR owner should play. It’s brutal and emotional story starts slow, but hits hard, and while it ends too soon, it left me with plenty of memories and a new standard for VR storytelling.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Fated: The Silent Oath was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 3/28/17