Vikings, they seem to have been labeled as savages, with all the rape, pillage and plunder accusations against them. But surely there was more to these tribes people than that? They seemed to worship more gods than anyone else, so perhaps they had a sensitive side? Who knows, maybe they were just simply misunderstood? The latest VR release from Firma, goes about putting a little humanity into the Viking History.
You gain consciousness in the back of a horse drawn cart where a women with long red hair leans over you, pleading for a response. You cannot answer. Suddenly you shift into what is perhaps the afterlife, with a vision of an entity talking to you, offering a choice. She will grant you a second chance, regaining your life force, but in return you with never be able to speak again. An odd request but an obvious choice, you nod in agreement. Thrust back to the world of the living you begin the tale of a family man, a Viking, but one who is a lover rather than a fighter.
Being a VR game, this little explanation of your character not having a voice is the first of many great ideas within Fated: The Silent Oath. Your interaction with characters from here on consists of a simple nod for yes, or head shake for no. Quite ingenious when you think about it, VR is meant to have you immersed in the world, forgetting that this is not a reality. Had an option wheel popped up for dialogue, instantly you would be reminded that you were simply playing a game. This is one example of how Fated excels in what it sets out to achieve.
Playing in first person, one would describe Fated as an exploration/puzzle game that tells the story of a man and his quest to keep his family safe in the time of the end, Ragnarok. The story is told within four acts, with a completion time of just over two hours. It starts out slowly, introducing you to the setting, characters and controls exceptionally well. After the first act, the pace ramps up significantly as you’re treated to an experience that tries, and in most part succeeds at challenging your emotions.
The majority of your game time is made up of interactions with the games npc’s. There are also some archery, driving, platforming and puzzle sections that make sure you keep adequately thrilled. There are sections throughout that will have your pulse racing, making the game-play a memorable experience. Movement is done here extremely well, something that VR games tend to struggle with as first person experiences. Your left analogue stick moves you forward or allows you to strafe. The left analogue stick rotates the frame allowing you to turn. This is nothing new but the options allow you to change the degree in which this turn is completed. Finally, instead of feeling disorientated, I turned the setting to 10% and actually enjoyed moving about! All of the other actions you partake in work extremely well. The puzzles are however a little disappointing, resorting to Simon says style solving.
As you can probably tell, Fated is very much story driven, and I am doing my best to not give anything away. However, this is also Fated’s greatest short coming. Written by Assassins Creeds Jill Murray, I was expecting a stellar story-line, instead the end product is unfortunately a little bit messy. It all starts well, but it seems that each act throws in a plot line that is neither explored nor actually finished. By the end you have no answers but only questions, and I don’t mean this in a good way. It is disjointed and feels ultimately unfinished, which is extremely disappointing as it could have been superb had it stuck to one theme and finished its tale.
The world is glorious to behold. Instead of aiming for a perfectly realized realistic world, Firma have provided an art style similar to a Pixar film. It works marvelously well, the characters and environments are gorgeous, and the world is filled with vibrancy and motion feeling alive. The weather effects are quite astounding, with the warmth of the sun, a light shower and finally a violent wind storm all making an appearance. All are done brilliantly, as are the lighting effects. Whilst traveling on your cart you notice the light changing as you underpass rock cliffs and bridges that edge out the sun. Likewise the clouds make things go from light to dull, and the night scenes by fire light are extremely well executed.
All this thing, along with a believably living world make a Fated a great VR experience. It truly does transcend you into the world. Adding to the immersion is the sound, which is used masterfully, throwing from one ear to the other depending on the direction of which it comes from.
Fated: The Silent Oath was an excellent VR experience, let down only by its disjointed story telling. It achieves what it sets out to do, by adding emotion to the experience but the impact would have been far greater had the plot unwound instead of branching out with no real ending to any part of the story. This is the only thing that holds the game back from possibly being the best VR title thus far.