Review: FATED: The Silent Oath
Frima Originals’ debut VR videogame has undergone a lot of optimisation for PlayStation VR.
Having originally made its debut for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift nearly a year ago, one might wonder what has taken Frima Original’s FATED: The Silent Oath so long to arrive on PlayStation VR. Despite the head-mounted display (HMD) having now been available for months and the original intention to have the videogame ready for launch, FATED: The Silent Oath has arrived late, but with it has come some obvious adjustment to optimise the videogame for the PlayStation 4 format.
For the uninitiated, FATED: The Silent Oath is the story set in the mythical age of Vikings. Telling the tale of an everyday father and husband who find himself caught in an unpredictable situation, challenged with accomplishing a mission that appears impossible while also ensuring the safety of his family. Battling against the potential destruction of the world at the hands of giants of old, Ulfr has also been cursed with the unexpected loss of his ability to speak.
The latter mechanic – or rather, lack thereof – has been incorporated to accommodate the first-person design of FATED: The Silent Oath and the decision to avoid HUD-based text at all costs. Simple shakes or nods of the head through the PlayStation VR’s head-tracking capability are enough to communicate your intentions; the script and story pacing have been written elegantly around this limitation.
The story is key to FATED: The Silent Oath, as it is without a doubt an emotionally charged experience. The interaction with family members and other characters is the driving force, and while other videogames often collapse under the pressure of crafting deep and likable characters across the spectrum of age, race and sex, FATED: The Silent Oath steers clear of trite dialogue and cliché with ease. It’s frequently amazing just how well blended the character design is into the overall narrative, should you choose to step back and think about it.
But doing so would break the immersion; a cardinal sin in virtual reality (VR). FATED: The Silent Oath has been designed to keep you hooked through the story and gameplay loop in such a way that stepping back is equivalent to undermining your own enjoyment. The division between story progression, exploration and puzzle solving is so thin that you shouldn’t question it. Whether it be rearranging stones so that their glyphs appear in the right order, teaching your nephew how to hunt, having your exceptionally strong wife, Freja, tell you that you’re being an idiot or charging along a ravine on a horse and cart to escape falling rocks, FATED: The Silent Oath’s pacing is commendable throughout.
In terms of the PlayStation VR edition of FATED: The Silent Oath, Frima Originals has obviously had to do some work in order to make the videogame perform as well on the PlayStation 4 console as high-end PCs. The visual quality has only suffered slightly – which could well be as much to do with the PlayStation VR’s lower-grade screen as a reduction in detail – and Frima Originals has acted wisely to ensure that no framerate drops are evident in the videogame.
FATED: The Silent Oath was originally billed as the first chapter in an episodic series. Exactly what is going on with the second chapter is not currently known, however this instalment is certainly enough to warrant a look by itself. With a reduced price point making the short duration of FATED: The Silent Oath much easier a pill to swallow, those who are looking for new content on their PlayStation VR could do much worse than to go adventuring with Ulfr and his family.