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Fate (PC) artwork

Fate (PC) review


"The charm has worn off. The enchantment is gone. The battles that were furious are now frustrating and tiresome. Later levels offer no surprises. Then again, neither did the first. In fact, since this game is a Diablo clone, there shouldn't be any surprise at all. "



Imagine a charming old friend coming to visit you. You have some drinks and a few laughs and he informs you that he lost his job and was kicked out of his apartment. He then asks you if he can stay the night with plans to go apartment and job hunting the next day. At first you're delighted to have such a great friend around. He's funny, witty, entertaining; like having a dinner party guest you don't want to leave. A day becomes a week and that friend is still sitting on your couch, becoming less and less charming. That week becomes a solid month, and while you feel you can't desert a friend, you're tired of footing his bill. When at last he has a job, he offers to become your roommate and pay his half of the rent. You give him the boot.

That would be my experience in playing Fate.

You fire up the game and it's almost magical. Beautiful Celtic-ish music fills the air and gorgeous and vibrant tones catch your eye. The game is easy both on the eyes and the ears---no, more than easy, pleasant. When you start a new game, you're greeted by the voice of an old man who sounds like he always smiles and has a long, white beard that smells funny. God, you can hear the smile in his voice. It's almost creepy it's so pleasant. He tells you the not-so-special setup of the game: that you're a random traveler who heard of great heroic deeds happening in the town of Grove. You traveled there with your dog/cat to gain such prestige.

The game informs you that a random creature with a long ridiculous name like Goblinlicker the Awful or Deathkisser the Disemboweler is making a fuss on level X, and that you must put a stop to said fuss. The creature you fight is random, as is the level. The game actually picks a regular monster and promotes it to the status of “final boss” by making it bigger and giving it stat boosts and even a slew of bodyguards that are as tough as regular bosses. Better craft a powerful enough midget to get the job done.

Character creation is simple, and you're done with it in a matter of minutes and onto the game. Unfortunately, you can't expect a whole lot of detail from the character you create. You can only cycle through a list of hairstyles and facial features, hoping to find the combination that pleases you. Picking an animal companion only consists of either clicking “cat” or “dog” and naming it. You cannot customize your animal beyond that, though you can transform your animal into other monsters that you fight in the game by feeding it different types of fish.

There are no classes. It's up to you to modify your character's stats to reflect whatever you want. This is both liberating and disappointing. If you're good at making up classes on the spot, then you'll love this feature. It doesn't limit you to being only a warrior, or only a mage, but can allow you to become something like a warrior-mage or someone with ridiculously high magic and defense.

The instant you step into that hobbit-like world of Fate, you almost can't hate it. It's like Diablo with a sprinkle of sugar. Everything is so mild-mannered and tame. From the horrid shopkeeper stereotype to the obligatory wizard, everything feels gently lifted from other point and click hack 'n slash (henceforth referred to as PCHS) games and placed into Grove. They fill the void.

You could search Grove and talk to its inhabitants, hoping to glean more information on just how awful Goblinlicker really is, but you don't hear anything. There's no back story, side story, or even a story to be told. Everyone just wants you to go into the dungeon and complete tasks. You accept the maximum of three of them, feeling that there's some kind of worth now beyond getting to the end and killing the final boss. Thinking that there must be dozens of tasks for you to do from here to the end makes you feel like the possibilities may be endless. Hell, even Diablo didn't ask you to do this much from the outset.

You venture into the cold and dark dungeon. Giant rats greet you with frothing mouths and blood-soaked whiskers. You click on them and they are dead in seconds. More beasts rise up from the depths: bats, bright pink mushroom people, giant spiders, and slithering slimes. As you venture further, the creatures become stranger and draw from other pieces of mythology: skeletons, demons, griffins, and giants. You greet the hordes of hell and all that can be heard in your apartment is the savage click-click-click and the dancing of your other hand over the 1 button on your keyboard as your health gets low. Actions can be set to different number buttons on your keyboard such as using health potions or mana potions, or even certain spells.

The pace is quick. The farther you go, the more the game begins to stack the deck against you. You are one man and a pet against an army of beast, and only the frantic and repetitive clicking can save you. It's addictive, constantly killing, leveling up, spending new points on raising stats and learning new skills and spells, finding new pieces of equipment, completing quests. You keep going topside and selling the goods you take from the corpses of your enemies, you make money, you further yourself. You've become something of an entrepreneur dealing death to evil and profiting from their eternal damnation. Monsters seem to bleed gold and discharge legendary items. Killing higher up monsters not only nets you experience, but fame. As you grow more famous, you are rewarded with increasingly studly titles and more skill points.

Unless you're playing a strictly magic-based character, there's little strategy. You click and click and click and watch the bodies pile up. Even learning new skills only means that you'll wind up clicking some more, only you'll be using the right mouse button instead. Different skills may have different effects and implementations, but they do little to make the game feel any deeper.

A week goes by and you realize that even though you are plunging deeper and deeper into the dungeon, the game really isn't that deep.

A hard week of labor and slaying and you fire up the game and something doesn't feel quite right. That Celtic flute at the beginning begins to remind you of the same public domain music that came with the Taipei game packed into you computer. That wizened old voice of the storyteller now sounds like some aged codger that won't leave you alone. He's constantly telling you that your health is low, or that you've gained a level, or that you're venturing into the dungeon. Yeah, thank you Old Man Obvious. Even the villagers seem sick of you. They offer the same quests over and over again, possibly thinking, “Egads! This man still hasn't given up? He's more persistent than anyone I've ever known.” Instead of sending you off empty-handed, they contrive another quest for you. Go and kill Bloodmouth the Psychotic on level 36. Never mind that I've already asked you to kill twenty or so ridiculously named villains already. Quests consist of the same thing over and over again. Go kill [name]. Go retrieve [object]. Go kill X [enemies]. Kill [name] and his X [enemy minions] and retrieve [object]. This game doesn't allow you to pick a class because you already have one: go-fer.

The charm has worn off. The enchantment is gone. The battles that were furious are now frustrating and tiresome. Later levels offer no surprises. Then again, neither did the first. In fact, since this game is a Diablo clone, there shouldn't be any surprise at all. It's a PCHS, tried and true. The only thing you might come to expect after reading the blurb is that you're going to point and click a lot and enemies are going to die. The game gets more challenging as you venture further, but the gameplay remains the same: click-click-click-click-1-click-click-click-1-click and so on. Instead of fun, the game now becomes tedious. You've come so far, though, and you really want to kill that final boss for putting you through such tedious work to get to it. You don't care, you just want to see it dead.

There is nothing wrong with clones. Many great games are, but clones usually should offer you one reason to play it instead of its predecessor or any other games of its type, and Fate doesn't give you a solid enough reason. The game offers little in the way of small details. There's no plot, no characterization for the NPC's beyond stock level, nothing special about the battle system or the skill system or the level up. All you get is a random final boss and a pet. The smaller details are usually what help break the tedium, and this game doesn't provide enough of that.

You get to the point that you don't even kill all of the enemies on a floor anymore. You just want to rush to the final boss and end this game so you can play another one without feeling like you've abandoned a commitment. It's here that the game begins trying your patience. You die a lot, and in dying the game gives you some harsh choices. Do you:

A- Lose experience and fame, but start where you died?

B- Lose money and start on a random nearby level, sometimes in the very middle of a large group of enemies that will pick the flesh off your bones again?

or C- Start back at town with your gold still on your cold, dead corpse.

None of these sound desirable, as well they shouldn't, but they add an extra element of frustration to what has already become tedious and boring. If dying constantly doesn't disillusion you from fighting the final boss, then you are a true warrior of great patience and persistence.

You get to the final boss, who's swarming with minions. You click forever, repeatedly, hitting the 1 and maybe 2 buttons now and then. After slowly picking away his bodyguards, you move onto Goblinlicker himself. Your fight feels like it lasts ages. It doesn't have the epic feel that it should. It isn't like fighting Diablo or any great final boss. It feels like you're fighting a regular enemy with reinforced steel for flesh. It takes forever for it to drop, but it eventually does.

And there was much rejoicing.

Back at Grove, a fittingly mediocre town name for cookie-cutter game, they ask you one important question. Do you wish to venture further into the dungeon or retire?

RETIRE.

You do this and you can name an item of yours as an heirloom. Said heirloom will be usable in a New Game+ sort of way. Unlike the first Diablo, you can't just import your old character and start slashing things to bits again. Instead, that character you worked so hard to build is useless towards fighting anymore random final bosses. If you want to fight another random final boss, you have to start a new game.

You might think you can venture forth into the deep dungeons of Fate and try to reach the bottom. Good luck. A little Googling has taught me that the max level in the game, thanks to the game's “magic number” is level 2,147,483,647. This is straight from the FAQ page on WildTangent's own site. So you can keep clicking and doing the same thing over and over again for about 2.1 billion randomly generated levels doing the same quests over and over again. Odds are, you'll probably bump into Goblinlicker again. Several thousand times.

Bottom line, Fate is basically Diablo without any of the goodies that make the game special. It's like eating a Twinky without the cream filling. It has little to offer besides gorgeous music and graphics, and a light-hearted atmosphere, but even those things wear thin before long. The game goes from being a simple and addictive quest to nothing but tedious clicking. Even as a lite substitute for Diablo, it isn't worth the venture. One could play a better Diablo clone, perhaps Torchlight, or even just play Diablo and be done with it. Even the $10 price tag isn't worth it. One can go on Steam or any other client or website and download much better games for that price or cheaper. Fate is more than just Diablo Lite, it's Skim Diablo.

Rating: 5/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 09, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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