During it’s launch, PlayStation VR had a pretty good assortment of games. Job Simulator and Wayward Sky, down to smaller titles I’d like to see receive the full game treatment such as Danger Ball and Robot Run. Since then there have been some truly terrifying (in a good way) titles and still others that, while beautiful with an intriguing story, lacked good gameplay. It’s funny to review Fated: The Silent Oath now because it was originally set to be a launch title. It was, however, faced with significant delays leading to it’s launch. I have to say, it feels good to pick up my headset and remember why I invested in one in the first place.
Let me get this out of the way: You’re expecting Fated: The Silent Oath to be jam-packed with action/adventure sequences and gameplay because you’re a Viking; you’re going to want to look elsewhere. What Fated offers are moments of brief simplistic gameplay via hunting and some environmental puzzle segments, but that’s about it. The majority of what you’ll be doing in Fated is walking and experiencing the narrative the team at Frima created. You can get a rough idea of what I mean if you’ve played other walking sims like Firewatch or Gone Home. One of Fated’s most refreshing aspects is the setting. There’s no Sci-Fi jazz here as the game takes place in the Nordic wilderness. You play as a Viking and father named Ulfer who’s given a second chance by one of your gods after experiencing a near death experience. Your new lease on life isn’t without sacrifice.Granting you more time with your family means you’ll live on mute and unable to talk with your loved ones. During the game your character doesn’t utter a sound and instead responds to questions with a simple yes/no head shake you perform in the real world. It’s actually a really clever mechanic that helped me feel more absorbed in the world by having my character not talk for me in a voice that’s not my own.
After the deal is made, you awaken in a moving carriage en route to your village next to your wife and father-in-law, who also happens to be the village’s leader. Upon your arrival you discover the town is in complete shambles and has been destroyed with very few survivors. Naturally, you and your wife search for your daughter and nephew to ensure their safety. When you reunite with your nephew, he has a bow and tells you to follow him in order to get arrows for hunting. The both of you venture off into the woods and grab some arrows from a fallen warrior who warns you of a dark secret. After a quick bow tutorial, the two of you set out to hunt some deer and other wild-life. Using the bow felt good in VR (the game controls using the Dualshock 4) although its use was short lived.
That’s all I’m going to divulge of the story because you’ll finish the game up in roughly ninety minutes, so I’ll go over my thoughts regarding the game’s presentation. First are the visuals. Like many of the best VR games I’ve played, the team at Frima realized going for realism wasn’t practical, and instead opted for a more painterly art style. This, I felt was a good move,because in my time playing VR I’ve noticed that games with a minimalistic aesthetic are typically more immersive than those that aim for gritty realism. I’d argue my presence in Job Simulator feels more real than in a game like ‘Loading Human’, for example. This probably comes down to the fact that the current consoles can render believable cartoon-esque worlds for us to inhabit while the infamous uncanny valley remains a problem for mainstream hardware to pull off in VR. Some other high points are the soundtrack and delivery of lines by the voice actors. I’m obviously not talking The Last of Us caliber voice acting here, but for a smaller title it’s really well done and feels natural most of the time….
….Except for when it doesn’t. My issue with the unnatural audio has more to do with the 3D audio of the PSVR itself at certain points, specifically in an area with flowing water. The reason for this is because the game uses the pie chart turning method other games use to combat motion sickness. When you move the camera, the audio doesn’t move fluidly (since you aren’t turning fluidly), so it will cut to wherever it’s coming from in relation to you. This can be jarring, to say the least. I don’t typically get motion sickness, and would have loved the option to choose smooth camera rotation.
There were also a few other weird bugs I found that I wasn’t expecting to find in a game that was pushed back for this many months. One of the characters got stuck in a weird dancing animation while transitioning from the end of one scene into the other. She kept dancing until I went far enough ahead that her animation snapped back to her walking behind me. Another weird one was in the beginning where my daughter was supposed to be beside me, but instead ended up walking through the mountains to the left of me! It ripped me out of the immersion for a bit because I could hear her and couldn’t see her except for brief moments when her head poked out from behind a rock. It was sort of unintentionally hilarious. With that said, I didn’t run into any show-stopping bugs, and these minor (yet odd) setbacks didn’t hinder my experience with Fated much at all. In the end, I’d recommend Fated for PSVR owners looking for a quick story-driven experience. My only doubt is whether or not the story will continue as it’s clearly meant to. <a href=https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-us/games/fated-the-silent-oath/cid=UP4096-CUSA05107_00-FATEDEPISODE01US” target=”_blank”>You can pick up Fated: The Silent Oath for $9.99 through the PlayStation Store.