You may be tired of the same old RPGs being released in the consoles today, the usual real-time action RPGs. They are still fun but of course there are times that you need to take a breather once in a while and look for something different. Enter the rouge-like RPGs, they may look simple but the sheer randomness makes it a difficult yet entertaining games. NIS America released Awakened Fate Ultimatum for the PlayStation 3 to give players a dose of rouge-like games for the consoles. A spiritual sequel to Guided Fate Paradox and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman, will this game be a worthy successor?
Awakened Fate focused more of a standard good vs. evil story, where it centers on Shin Kamikaze; an ordinary high school student, where on his way home, he was ambushed by a group of demons that descend from the sky, in which to his supposed demise. Then a white-winged angel appeared to protect Shin, but it was too late for Shin, yet he was then resurrected with the power of the Awakened Fate Crystal to become the God of Celestia and is now stuck with the conflict between angels and demons.
The narrative of the story is similar that from visual novels, where cutscenes and conversations are featured in still images of the character portrait along with voice overs, which can be a turn off to some players who would prefer full animated cutscenes. Compared with Guided Fate Paradox’s story which is more light-hearted, Awakened Fate has a darker tone showing the harsh reality of war, but still manage to add some light humor. Despite having a darker tone, the storyline is a bit bland and character development is predictable as a lot of scenes had a tons of anime tropes in it, making you feel that is just from another same old anime story.
Gone was the 2D sprites from the previous games and replaced with cel-shaded chibi characters, it still give the game an anime feel to it along with some flashy skill effects to add more flair to the game. There are some catchy tunes from the game’s soundtrack, especially with the labyrinth soundtracks, it adds more tension during your dungeon crawling.
The feature highlight for Awakened Fate is the point where you have to choose a decision in certain parts of the game. Choosing a different response will provide you Crystal Points that can be used to enhance Shin’s abilities as well as having the other characters reacting to your choices differently, it may look nice to see how characters react to your decisions, but it does not entirely affect the whole storyline with the exception to the final part in the game. Choosing which female lead character to talk to has no impact in the progress of the story, but it adds more depth to story as you learn about their perspective towards the protagonist as well as receiving Crystal Points based on their alignment.
Just like its spiritual predecessors, the game is a rouge-like RPG, meaning you control your protagonist in a maze-like map; where every layout, items, traps and monsters are randomized. Every action you make, your enemies will also perform an action right after. Each dungeon has a specific number of floors; ranging from five to twenty floors, and the portal leading to the upper floor is also in a random location. Completing the dungeon requires reaching the top floor, and in most cases, you will encounter a boss battle, but these battles are very straightforward; buff your stats and hit them hard with your strongest skills. The combat system is simplified compared to the previous NIS rouge-like games, when you die in a dungeon, you will lose all items in your inventory, including your equipped gear, so careful preparation is required before heading to any dungeon especially the ones with more floors. It has the standard HP (life) and SP (mana) along with the AC (stamina); the AC will gradually decrease for every amount of action you made, having 0 AC will result in a constant decrease in your HP until it reaches zero, consuming any food items will restore AC. As simple as it may sound, the game is challenging due to the fact that very dungeon you visited will be far different from your previous, making repeated trips to the same dungeon will have a different experience. But being adventurous can be rewarding, as items and weapons can be found from enemy loot or in treasure chest scattered around the floor, so exploration is highly encouraged after completing a certain dungeon for the first time.
Another feature present in the game is the Deitize forms; it lets Shin transform either into an angel or devil form that have distinct abilities, angel form is more on offensive skills while the devil form is more on defense. Different monsters have certain weaknesses for each Deitize form, which is a crucial strategy in the game. Using the Deitize forms consume SP however, once it reaches zero, the protagonist will revert back to its normal form. Monsters have different forms and types, adding more challenge in dungeon exploring, some can shoot beams from afar, while others can phase through walls, making them impossible to attack.
Equipment boosting is very straightforward in Awakened Fate, you combine your base item with another item with a higher boost grade as the boost material to add the boost grade to the base item which can be raised up to +99. It may be an expensive and tedious work to upgrade your gear to the max, but it makes dungeon crawling a breeze, plus you can transfer the boost grade to a much powerful weapon. Enhancing Shin’s skills is done by spending your Crystal Points at the Crystal Customization that is quite identical to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X; you insert the crystals on the slots to unlock a skills or enhance the Deitize form’s stats, you cannot just insert the crystal to any slots if it is not adjacent to a slot with an inserted crystal. This gives players the choice to customize the protagonist’s build in any way they want.
Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a challenging game indeed, it may has some flaws such as the story and character development being predictable and uninspiring, the combat system was simplified to add more depth to the randomized dungeons, letting players focus more on dungeon exploration rather than worrying of any complex features that could restrict their dungeon trips. And with the dungeons are always at random, there is more replayability in the game, adding more challenge to every trip in the labyrinth.