Fade is an adventure game for PocketPCs, played from a first-person perspective, in the classic style of interaction with a mostly static environment. The game world is populated by a large collection of items, which may or may not be useful to you, and which may or may not be accessible depending on prerequisites–for example, you have to unlock X to get at Y, or you can’t pick up Z because you have no use for Z at the moment. The environment and characters are pre-made computer generated imagery. All input is done using the stylus, and a series of four icons allow you to access the main menu, your diary (quest tracking), inventory, and movement.
Opening the game, you’re greeted by a short and very pretty intro that leads you to the main menu. There are no options for the game, but truthfully none are really needed. Once in the game, you can move around best by using the movement button, which pops up a menu of choices. No complaints, other than it can be a little hard to hit the right option. On the whole, gameplay is smooth, simple, easy to learn, and hard to get past–as any good, stylish adventure game should be.
And anyone who enjoys good, stylish adventure games has got to love Fade. The atmospherics, the look, the twists and turns–from the subtle hints layered all through the game to the visually lush backdrops, Fade has a lot going for it. The scenery is rendered in spectacular style, each setting lush with detail, authenticity, and atmosphere. It’s obvious that a lot of care and effort went into producing it. The achieved sense of immersion alone is impressive for a game played on a three inch screen–I had no problem with the believability of any of the settings, such as they were. Nothing ever looked like ‘oh, that’s a computer- generated door’. The characters are somewhat less polished, but passable for their parts. The look of the art varies perfectly in tune with the action of the game, sometimes enhancing it, sometimes counter pointing it. The ambient sounds become a little tiring after awhile–I wish there were a way to turn them off, and still be able to hear the important sound effects–but considering the quality of the visuals, this can be forgiven. All this quality comes at a price, however: Fade is a large game, requiring 12 MB of space. Needless to say, anyone with less than 64 MB of memory will definitely need a flash card.
To talk much about the plot would give too much away–suffice it to say, sit back and ride with the flow. It will either work for you, or it won’t. You will definitely not need to complain about it being boring or slow, however.
Despite its excellence, the game is not without a flaw. To anyone who enjoys continuing storylines, the phrase ‘unresolved cliffhanger’ is like a corpse at a hypochondriacs convention. While Fade isn’t quite that bad, you won’t get total satisfaction. Despite the great big ‘To Be Continued’ splashed across the screen at the end, there will be no sequel, and no final answer about what the full, true story really is. Sure, one can always conjecture–given the information available at the end, it’s not that hard–but isn’t getting there half the fun? Maybe I’m just wishing for the opportunity to enjoy more of Fade, but it just feels like there’s more there that could be explored. Failing that though, the ending is serviceable in that it explains most of what’s been going on.
Fade is doubtless the best true adventure game made for the PocketPC. The worst thing I can say about it is that it ate a week of my life and my wrist is sore from tapping. One word of caution: with the largely dark or black backgrounds in the game, if you’re going to be playing in light, an anti-glare screen protector is strongly recommended. I would hate to play this with a WriteRight (Ack). Even if you’ve played Fade before, it’s worth it to do so again when you know what’s going on, so as to examine everything to see the myriad of cool little details that make Fade so intriguingly layered.
Impressive visual art
Ending not completely an ending
Any PocketPC user who enjoys adventure games should play Fade.
You may download a free trial or purchase for $30 from Handango [product link].