By Adele Chapline Smith
NEW YORK (CNS) — Could you survive an endless winter of harsh climates and demonic terrors? That’s the question posed by “Fade to Silence” (THQ Nordic) in which characters must eke out a way of life amid a postapocalyptic deep freeze.
With the fall of civilization having come and gone, both the environment and a pervasive evil must be dealt with if players are to outlast the cold.
The blood effects and violence within “Fade to Silence” are not as graphic as those in games from larger studios often tend to be. But excessively coarse language, along with occult content, makes this title unsuitable for any but adults — and perhaps some mature adolescents well-formed in their faith.
The primary survival mode offers a limited number of lives, after which players will need to start again. Exploration mode provides infinite lives and easier combat encounters, allowing for a less frustrating progression.
Taking on the role of Ash, a man trying to stay alive in a wilderness full of monsters (many of them reminiscent of those encountered in the works of horror icon H.P. Lovecraft), players must seek out resources such as food and firewood. Other survivors can be found throughout the snowy wasteland and can be recruited to join Ash’s camp.
Clunky voice acting, subpar combat mechanics and a tedious narrative buried too deep to make sense result in “Fade to Silence” coming up short. However, die-hard fans of the genre might be able to overlook these limitations for the interesting aspects of the environment and resource management.
The dynamic weather is one of the more intriguing and impressive aspects of the gameplay. Blizzards and snow tornados abound and reinforce the mood of bleak hopelessness. It makes for some exciting moments of suspense about Ash’s eventual fate.
Fighting involves torches or crafted weapons such as swords or bows, and the combat violence is not particularly graphic. Enemies do not bleed but there are blood effects if Ash is injured.
One concern for parents will be the off-color dialogue, especially that spoken by the first survivor Ash rescues. A more substantial worry involves the metaphysics of the milieu.
When Ash dies, he is resurrected by a demonic being known as the Inner Voice. This fiend revives Ash only to continue to mock his attempts to survive at every turn. The Inner Voice’s ability to resuscitate the dead is a mockery of the divine. His paradoxical intent to restore life so that he can go on tormenting Ash calls to mind the Gnostic teaching that life is a prison.
There is no sign of grace to be found in the dreary environment of “Fade to Silence.” Older gamers may be able to cope with that, but the rewards for doing so turn out to be minimal.
Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam).
The game contains occult themes, a nonscriptural worldview, much combat violence, some stylized blood effects, frequent rough language and some crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — Mature.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.