Barely still in its infancy, Playstation VR has already become home to a number of cinematic experiences. Players have been able to become immersed in the role of space dogfighter, job simulationist, and even Batman. Until now, there hasn’t been a proper role for players to step into Norse mythos (unless God of War 4 somehow features a first-person murder fest). As the first such title to feature a Viking beard on the Playstation VR, Fated: The Silent Oath takes players on a brief and treacherous journey to keep one’s family safe.
The Nordic imagery that defines Fated’s setting is something that’s still underused in gaming. If the player isn’t already versed in the mythology and ice giants, much of what’s going on will simply lead to some interesting set pieces without many contexts to link them together. Much like the mythology that precludes Fated’s inspiration, the narrative that the player experiences are one rife with despair and loss.
As is common for the VR genre, players are often placed into the roles of a voiceless protagonist with little justification for the lack of voice. Fated: The Silent Oath builds this into its title and the very first choice that is thrust upon the player. The player assumes the role of Ulfor, a Nordic family man that is just moments from entering death’s embrace. At the behest of a goddess in his imagination, Ulfor is offered a new lease on life and a chance to protect those he loves with a single choice: Would Ulfor rather give up his life or his voice?
Fated: The Silent Oath’s run time, excluding the brief moments that the player might decide to stop and admire the scenery, clocked in at just under an hour and a half for me. In fact, I spent more time gathering my thoughts and penning this review. By the time the ending credits drew to a close, I was still left wondering just what the purpose of Fated’s story was supposed to convey. Ice giants and the grand caverns that Ulfor’s family escape from feeling as though there was so much more that could have been said besides simply being set pieces for the most part.
In that brief amount of time, there was a very little interaction that defines what one would properly call a game. When not slowly plodding along with one of the slowest walk speeds I’ve endured in a light adventure title, the moments that require any additional input from the player are as brief as they are rare. One segment has players try and steer an unbridled wagon to avoid an ice giant attack; another has players interact with Norse runes in a quick ‘Simon Says’ routine. When not walking along the guided path, players need only use the L2/R2 buttons to make use of Ulfor’s massive fists for the task at hand.
I welcome any developer that wants to create their own unique visions for the PlayStation VR. After all, without diversity and new ideas, the platform certainly won’t be able to flourish and truly hit the mainstream. Fated: The Silent Oath’s best idea is in the implementation of volumetric cubes or guides to help give the player perspective and depth. While the large blue cubes take away from the immersion, I found the added comfort to be an excellent tradeoff. With an experience as forgettable as Ulfor’s Silent Oath, there’s at least one important takeaway for VR development.
Ulfor’s adventure in Fated: The Silent Oath is something that I am glad to have the opportunity to talk about, if only as a word of caution. As the journey ends just as abruptly as it begins, Fated feels as though it’s merely the first take at an episodic franchise and not a complete package. There’s some innovation to be had on a platform that could use all of the unique experiences it can get. If all you’re looking for is a brief afternoon escape into the Nordic wilderness, Fated: The Silent Oath will serve you comfortably.
Reviewed on PlayStation VR (code provided by the publisher).
Fated: The Silent Oath is a brief Nordic experience that teases something greater, but will ultimately leave the player wondering if there is more to come.