FATED: The Silent Oath may be very rough around the edges, but it provides a virtual reality experience which shows the promise of the medium. Here’s our review.
Developed by Canadian developer Frima Studio, FATED: The Silent Oath is part of the first major wave of Virtual Reality titles that we’re seeing now. Since the release of the Rift and the Vive, we’ve seen a lot of interesting first attempts by game developers, but so far none of them have turned out to be the killer app that the VR platform sort of needs. FATED isn’t the gem we’re all looking for, but it does show us some interesting interpretations of how VR could work.
In the game, you take on the role of a man who no longer remembers his past, and who can’t speak. Despite this, FATED does a really great job at allowing you to communicate in the game. The way this is done is through interactions with other characters, during which you’re able to respond by either nodding or shaking your head. This is very immersive and until games start using full voice recognition it’s the closest we’ve come to communication in the game without the use of a controller in your hands.
That controller is still there though, and that’s where some of the immersion gets broken. Looking and moving around never feels as smooth as it should, and that takes you out of the experience when you feel like you’re fighting the controls instead of navigating through the story. It’s a shame really, because the storytelling is pretty decent even though the game is over rather quickly (but with the promise of additional episodes down the road). When I talk about storytelling in this context, I mean the actual writing behind everything – since the execution is somewhat rough. For a game like this, the voice acting should have been done better – with tons of room to add more emotional depth to the characters through their delivery of snippets of the story. Instead, most of the cast sounds less than optimal at best and plain uninterested at worst.
The art style in FATED is rather simple, but it works well. If you consider the hardware limitations that VR has (in terms of the processing power needed), it’s probably a smart decision by Frima to go for a style that’s more cartoon-like than anything – a look that certain MMOs also go with because their game world doesn’t allow for ultra detailed environments. With its Norse mythology, FATED also resembles the RTS game Cultures a little – you can think of it as a mix between that game and World of Warcraft, but mostly played through a first person perspective. Still following?
It’s a shame that FATED’s potential gets stranded in the way it’s being delivered. We kept wishing for more, but it wasn’t there. More content to play through, more soul in the delivery of lines and more accurate controls. Let’s hope more FATED is coming our way, because there’s potential for a great VR experience here, especially in the way the story is built up and your interactions with the characters around you.