Fade to Silence – stalking in a winter wonderland

Now here’s a game suffering from an identity crisis. With both a name and cover art that give little away, THQ Nordic’s Fade to Silence is something of an enigma. A faceless product, only spoken by a select few. While it’s true that many games have uninformative titles these days – indie games, especially – Fade to Silence wasn’t exactly the talk of the town when it arrived on consoles in 2019, coming and going with little celebration. Its name is more than apt.

Allow us to fill in the blanks. Fade to Silence is a third-person adventure set in a snow-covered post-apocalyptic world, featuring a few Souls-like elements such as melee combat governed by a stamina bar. Battling against rapidly decreasing temperatures, survival plays a large part, making it vital to gather food and firewood.

All the while, the gruff and grizzled lead is tormented by a demonic force with a booming voice. This ghoulish adversary mocks your feeble attempts of survival, eventually becoming more infuriated and scornful as you start to make headway.

It may sound a little cliché so far – survival games and mid-tier budget Souls-likes have been par for the course of late. However, Fade to Silence has a few tricks up its sleeve. Its resource management ethos extends to human resources, making it possible to recruit fellow survivors and assign them roles at your ever-growing camp. Survivors usually require coaxing to join your cause, commencing an impromptu quest, and once under your wing they can be instructed to build, hunt, or scavenge.

This, generally, makes life easier. More mouths to feed, granted, but it frees up time once spent gathering firewood and hunting deer so that you can explore further afield. The game world doesn’t necessarily beg to be explored – it’s largely covered in snow and ice, and blizzards often rage – but it’s still vital to head out and see what’s out there, uncovering new areas and finding more survivors. It helps here that survivors aren’t faceless; they have names, backstories, and distinct personalities.

Things are a little hard going initally, forcing to learn from mistakes and discover what you can and can’t get away with. Death came quickly for us until finding resources to craft an axe. Not only can axes be used to chop trees, bestowing a hefty stockpile of wood, but they also make quick work of the basic enemy types – crimson demons that spit projectiles and lash out with giant claws.

Our bearded brute has a mighty swing, making combat feel crunchy and satisfying. It’s wise to tackle enemies on their lonesome while using the environments to your advantage. Being attacked by multiple creatures at once usually results in either death or a diminished stockpile of health vials.

For an experience that’s multi-faceted, Fade to Silence feels far from bloated. It has survival elements, melee and ranged combat, base building, crafting, resource management and more, yet it manages to balance these ideas in equal measure. This is partly due to drip-feeding core elements – base building isn’t introduced until an hour or so in, for instance. The text-based survival guide also explains everything in much more detail, helping to master the basics long before introducing things like sledges.

If you’re wondering why we’re only covering Fade to Silence now, it’s because the price has significantly dropped recently. It was hovering around the £15 mark for quite some time but can be currently be found for between £5-£10, depending on format, putting it into the impulse price point for many. Exploring a world coated in snow and ice may not be the most inviting of prospects – a little bit of colour would have gone a long way – but you’ll likely warm to the proceedings quickly, chipping away at its layers to eventually discover a hidden gem.  

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