Fated is a first-person action-adventure that promises to invoke real emotion while staying a respectful distance from the uncanny valley. Fated: The Silent Oath is the first in a series of planned Fated games to come from Quebec based indie studio Frima Studio.
You play as Ulfer, a Viking on his way through the mountains with a young family in tow. Your wife, Freya, fawns over you, telling you how well you look even after “the accident” that left you mysteriously without a voice. In a moment of levity, she quips “Do you suppose, Husband, that the accident improved your driving?”
It’s moments like these that open you up to a point of connection with your new family, the ones that love you and call you ‘Papa’, the ones that trust you to protect them and keep them safe. Shortly after, your young daughter doddles up to you with unreserved curiosity. “Is it because I climbed the tree before the house fell when you said not to?” she asks.
I want to tell her everything will be ok, and that it wasn’t her fault that I lost my voice (even if it was). I want to tell her Papa will take care of her. But I can’t tell her, and I so desperately want to.
And before I can piece together much more, we’re on to a new character, a new thread to unravel.
Edda the witch sees bad omens. A pair of ravens, like Odin’s very own Huginn and Munnin, fly up to your horse drawn cart. A quiet boy, later revealed as Sven, gets scared as we go up the high mountain trail into the mist.
My latent paternal instincts kick into high gear as we speed up faster and faster, me all the while trying to avoid whatever it is that rumbles off in the dense fog. I hesitate to say what I see next is a Frost Giant, aka the Jötunn of Norse mythology, but the lumbering brute is smashing everything in sight, swooping in to rip rocks onto the path that I must dodge to protect my family. All around me is chaos and death—and all of this in the space of five minutes.
Connection. Love. Fear. Excitement. To say I got deep into Fated is an understatement.
Vincent Martel, Executive Producer at Frima Studio underlines this when he says the game wants you “to live the story like if you were there, like if it was yours. We want the player to connect emotionally with his family and care more about them than himself.”
Going into the demo, I first thought the cartoonish style would detract from the supposed emotional bond that the game attempts to conjure, but the short 8-minute ‘on rails’ experience proved to leverage the user’s emotions over the high visual detail you see in modern titles like modded versions of Skyrim (2011) or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014). That said, the scenery is consistent with the characters—like being immersed in a continuous world with its own rules. Seeing the bloody death of another character in front of me, possibly my father, shook me just enough not to look back.
Fated: The Silent Oath is decidedly much more focused on the narrative end of the spectrum, with less importance put on traditional game mechanics. We’ll be curious to see how Fated is going to handle some of the inevitable ‘off rails’ moments in the game.
The game is slated to arrive in Q1 2016 with release on Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. Be sure to check back then for a full review in the coming months.