FATED: The Silent Oath originally released last year, but the Playstation VR version of the game has seen a few delays having originally been planned to arrive in time for the headset’s launch. I’d actually had my eye on the game for some time, though not actually owning any other VR headset apart from Sony’s has meant I’ve had to wait some time to actually get the chance to play it.
It’s finally available though and it was certainly worth the extended wait – whilst FATED: The Silent Oath isn’t the richest title you’re going to play from a gameplay perspective, it offers a beautiful and emotionally-driven tale that actually utilises virtual reality in a beneficial and though-provoking way.
FATED: The Silent Oath tells the tale of a small family of Vikings, with the player taking on the role of Ulfer – a husband, father, uncle, and son-in-law. Looking death in the eyes, Ulfer gets granted a lease of a life by a Valkryie at the expense of his ability to speak. Whilst his unlikely revival is warmly welcomed by his jubilant wife, he comes back at a grim time with the fate of his family and their home under threat with the ‘Giants of old’ bringing destruction to their surroundings.
I really don’t want to go into too much detail about the story to avoid spoilers, but it’s certainly an emotional rollercoaster that whilst featuring plenty of action, primarily focuses on the bond between a family. Thanks to the well structured narrative progression and the fact you’re able to get up close and personal with everyone thanks to virtual reality, it’s easy to not only see the connection that Ulfer shares with his loved ones but feel it too. The fact that he has lost his ability to speak strengthens this; you’ll actually feel like you’re in the shoes of Ulfer and not just following a set tale that is spoken aloud for you.
You actually have control over Ulfer’s reactions to things too, with head nodding and shaking a way to emote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reactions. Ulfer’s loss of speech works perfectly within the confines of virtual reality because of this; speech is the only element of virtual reality that isn’t freely interactive to the player, so the idea of only being able to communicate through head movements is an ingenious to help keep the player engrossed.
Whilst FATED: The Silent Oath mainly focuses on providing a cinematic experience, there are instances of gameplay where you get to control Ulfur. You’re given full freedom to explore your surroundings which is always enjoyable in virtual reality, even if turning is limited to 45 degree angles. I was hoping there’d be an option for smooth movement, but unfortunately it was nowhere to be found in any menu. The actual movement speed was a little slow too – whilst I can appreciate it’s to keep nausea at a low when using the headset, I found it could be actually be a little frustrating. It does help pad out the relatively short play time though, with the game easily beatable in less than two hours.
Fortunately the game doesn’t just consist of basic movements, with puzzles to solve, hazards to avoid, and even a few action sequences where you’re equipped with a bow and arrows. It adds a bit more interaction to what is otherwise just a cinematic focused game; sure, there’s not a lot of depth to the gameplay sequences and they’re over fairly quickly, but the fact they’re present was good enough.
Visually FATED: The Silent Oath looks astounding. Everything manages to look fantastic, even within the confines of the often limited Playstation VR headset. Both the environments and character models are almost Pixar-esque, offering vibrant colours and rich detail that genuinely makes you feel like you’re exploring this beautiful fantasy world. There were the odd few occasions where I’d notice some pop-in in the environments, but it was nothing that obstructed the experience – everything runs smoothly as a whole and I really enjoyed seeing the sights of the game.
FATED: The Silent Oath’s biggest flaw is just how short it is, something that’s all the more frustrating when the story ends on an unexpected turn. The game does a great job of immersing the player into its emotional tale, yet by the time you find yourself fully absorbed it’s already over. Now the low price point of the game makes the short length less painful, but I’d have liked to have seen more; not because I don’t think it’s good value for money, but rather than it’s disappointing not to get to see the story develop considering the game’s emphasis on offering a narrative driven experience. There is hope in the fact that it’s meant to be an episodic release, though I’ve not seen anything about a follow up yet – hopefully it won’t take too long to see the conclusion to the gripping tale…
FATED: The Silent Oath’s blending of a deep narrative with enjoyable yet simple moments of interaction helps the game deliver a thought provoking tale that the player manages to feel a part of throughout. It’s beautiful to look at too, with the game world full of colour and plenty of enticing sights to see.
It’s far from perfect with the short length slightly disappointing, whilst the story wraps up in an unsatisfying manner too. There is hope of a follow up though, so hopefully we might see a more thorough conclusion to the Viking family’s tale in the future…
These flaws don’t stop FATED: The Silent Oath providing an enjoyable virtual reality experience though, and one I’d recommend to all Playstation VR owners. If you’re looking for an enjoyable title to play through that’ll tug at your heart strings, it’s definitely worth giving FATED: The Silent Oath a look.
Developer: Frima Studio
Publisher: Frima Studio
Release Date: 28/03/2017 (Playstation VR) 28/04/2016 (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift