At first Fade to Silence seemed like a fairly atmospheric action game, and it is to some extent. It does, however, also fall flat in many aspects and that, combined with the fact that it suffers from some fairly notable technical issues, pulled our initial impressions down quite a bit. Throw some mediocre graphics and at times rough controls into the mix and you get a game that's not as enjoyable as it could have been.
First things first though - the story starts off with the player waking up in some sort of crypt to the voice of a mysterious character speaking to them. As it turns out, our protagonist is alone and the voice he's hearing belongs to a supernatural being that's lingering and observing him on his travels. After having picked up a torch, collected what's left of the main character's energy, and escaped the tomb, the player is confronted by the real story, its antagonist and the challenge ahead: the environment. Imagine a mix between The Long Dark, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the TV series Vikings and you'll get the gist of what the setting and the characters look like.
An infinite, unforgiving winter has swept in over the land and the northern part of the area has been invaded by an evil being - a threat that the player can, of course, eliminate. This elimination is crucial to your survival and to you establishing a base camp. The narrative doesn't go much deeper than that; survive and "unearth the past", the latter of which we won't mention more about to save you from spoilers, dear reader.
The thing that made us think of Rise of the Tomb Raider (or even all of three of Lara's latest outings) is the crafting system. You have to collect food, wood and other necessities to craft clothes and items, all in a bid to survive the harsh elements. The more time you spend out in the unforgiving wilderness, the more this wilderness affects you. If you're not wearing appropriate clothes the biting frost will find its way to cool you down to the degree of death by frostbite. To manage this you can set up campfires (these require wood and, more often than not, a piece of flint to spark the wood into a warm, comforting flame), find shelter or grab a torch. You can also end up weak or even dead in the snow without enough to drink or eat, offering yet another survival element to consider.
Moving on to more visual threats. What would survival be without beastly, man-eating monstrosities that constantly wander around? Well, it'd be an average survival game, but this isn't one of those games. While their designs aren't bad by any means (most of them reminded us of the Clickers from The Last of Us), we wish we could say the same for the combat system. You lock onto your enemy and have two attack-options - a weak, fast punch or a strong, slow thump. From what we could see, there's no special attacks and no magic powers to spice it up. It's an easy system to learn and to master, we'll give the devs that, but we were expecting a little bit more nuance.
In terms of the visuals, Fade to Silence has its moments and at times it definitely makes you feel like you're in the cold, unforgiving wintery land and the freezing effect covering the screen makes you see the danger of the frost without a notification on the screen. However, in the big scheme of things, the graphics aren't great. Even when playing it with all of the settings on max the game looks a little dull and low-res most of the time. It's not a horrible-looking game by any means, but it's mediocre at best.
Even though this isn't the main issue we had with the game, the controls are problematic at times. Sometimes we noticed insanely long response times and sometimes our inputs didn't seem to work at all. These unresponsive controls often resulted in death and the instability of the game is its downfall. During our time with it the game crashed multiple times and, considering how the save points aren't exactly generously positioned, it's bound to be an annoyance for affected players.
The thing is though, Fade to Silence isn't a bad game, it just feels unfinished, and perhaps it should have kept its Early Access tags for a little while longer. The combat system falls flat, the voice acting (apart from the voice in your head) is horrible, and the only thing that we enjoyed fully was the survival and exploration elements. If the developers had been allowed the time to polish the game a bit more, it could have been so much better than it currently is at launch.