The Awakened Fate Ultimatum (PSN) Review
Not so much?
An isolated and introverted teen, Shin Kamikaze lives his life quietly from one day to the next – at least, until the day he is attacked and killed by devils on the way home from work. Revived by the power of the Fate Awakening Crystal, Shin finds himself in the angelic realm of Celestia, where […]
An isolated and introverted teen, Shin Kamikaze lives his life quietly from one day to the next – at least, until the day he is attacked and killed by devils on the way home from work. Revived by the power of the Fate Awakening Crystal, Shin finds himself in the angelic realm of Celestia, where he learns that he has been transformed into the angels’ new god. Armed with his new powers, Shin must take to the front lines in the ages-old battle between angels and devils, but can even his best efforts compensate for the awful losses of war?
Nippon Ichi’s first attempt at a dungeon crawler was 2013′s The Guided Fate Paradox, a game which earned mixed reviews for its status as an odd hybrid of a roguelike and a Disgaea title. For once, Nippon Ichi seem to have learned from their mistakes, and in The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, they’ve come up with a title which has moved outside of the identity crisis zone to establish itself as more of a true roguelike game.
The game is divided into chapters, each of which contains both visual novel elements to advance the plot, and a multi-floor dungeon to conquer. Veterans of roguelike games will know how this goes – you advance through the dungeon step by step, trading blows with enemies, collecting items and looking for the portal to the next floor. Death will send you back to base, minus all your items – although, unlike most of its contemporaries, the game does let you retain your experience level when you die. Like most roguelikes, however, even wandering around will drain your stamina, so it’s important to bring food along for longer dungeons.
So far, so standard – but of course, this being Nippon Ichi, there are a few additional elements in play. As a god, Shin can harness the powers of both light and darkness, meaning that in dungeons, he can transform into either an angel or devil form. Predictably, Angel Shin is strong against devil monsters, and Devil Shin is strong against angel monsters, with each form able to be levelled up as the game progresses. Both forms are stronger than default Shin, but this comes at a price – being transformed will consume your magic points, and if you don’t keep an eye of them, you’ll probably revert at an inopportune moment.
Other than that, however, Nippon Ichi have managed to hold back on overloading The Awakened Fate Ultimatum with extra features, and it’s a much better game for it. Although there’s the usual spikes in difficulty which require some stockpiling of healing items, the game is fairly close to the classic roguelike experience, with the bonus of being able to level up which will delight all but the roguelike purists who instead on permadeath.
Outside of gameplay, the game plays a lot like a visual novel, with the obligatory choices between befriending a devil girl or an angel girl. Whilst the story is a lot better than some of the fluff other Nippon Ichi games pass off as a plot, it is also unrelentingly miserable. At various points you are given choices that usually amount to saving or sacrificing someone, and it often feels like, no matter what you do, you can’t prevent another round of tragic deaths. It’s almost as if the writers wanted to cram in as much misery as possible.
Visually, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum doesn’t stint on the character designs, with plenty of attractive named characters to look at through the course of the story. Dungeons are clean, simple and yet easy on the eye, with lots of pretty angel and devil effects to spice things up. The background music and sound effects are catchy, if not especially memorable, and as per usual, there’s the option for both English and Japanese voiced dialogue.
Although its depressing plot is a bit of a downer, when it comes to core gameplay, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum provides a solid and fun experience that will appeal to the demographic who likes roguelikes, but isn’t so keen on having to start over each time you die. For once, Nippon Ichi seem to be learning from their lessons and trying to improve in their weak areas, so even if you didn’t get on with The Guided Fate Paradox, it is well worth giving this indirect sequel a chance.