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SummaryA wonderful game for casual role players
The GoodGrove is just another small and colorful fantasy village, but this one happens to have a big gate with an entrance to a humongous dungeon filled with treasure and monsters off all flavors. There's not many fantasy villages with a fifty-level dungeon beneath the ground, so Grove is where the adventurers of the world seek fame and fortune - and so are you. A young hero without any experience or talent, you draw your tiny dagger and head into the dungeon to make your way to glory - or death.
That's all about story, but story doesn't matter for this game. As I hacked through Fate at hero level, I discovered that there's many things to like about it.
First things first, the visuals of the game are presented in stylish, colorful 3D-graphics that suit the setting well and make roaming the dungeons under the town of Grove an eye-pleasing, at times stunning experience. Wait till you meet your first real dragon. The audio department doesn't lack either with some nice background music, professional speech for the people in town and the genre-typical battle and spell effects.
What I particularly liked about Fate was this fine sense of humor that spans the whole game. I chose a hero that wears glasses just like mine, smiled at the over-acting of some shop keepers and burst out laughing when I encountered the first of those smallish demons that wear hammers and swords almost twice as big as them, and then nearly killed me with it. Fate doesn't take itself seriously, and this is a nice change of pace in my book.
As regards gameplay, the biggest problem of action RPG's - even of those that have a story line - is repetition. The developers of Fate knew that and tried hard to give enough variety to keep us playing through fifty dungeon levels till the final battle. First of all there's an insane number of items to be discovered. I play many RPG's, but still have a hard time thinking of a piece of weapon or armor that's not included within this game. The developers also integrated the usual item boosting like prefix/suffix attributes, unique items, and sockets that can be filled with gems. Items can be found in the dungeons, bought, and gambled. Gambling is cheap buying without knowing exactly what you buy. The adrenaline level is quite high when you saved 10000K gold and gamble for the next best sword or shield. Items can be improved randomly by using magic anvils in the dungeon, or by giving them to the local black smith.
Second in the list of good things is the monsters. There's many kinds of them, all come with different strengths and weaknesses. There's the tank monsters like ogres and giants that just try to chase you down and tear you apart, but are easy to hit. There's the spider queen that has all her children with her. There's the fast hitters like wolves and demons that are quick and hard to kill, some of those will flee when losing the battle. And there's the magic users like beholders or ghosts that will make your life harder by blinding and slowing you and what not. Every monster kind of its own may be rather easy to kill, but beware squads of monsters of different kinds. Or lieutenants. These unique monsters are stronger and harder than their mundane tribe, and many of them cast dangerous spells. The weapon users of the monster horde use different weapons, many of them one weapon in each hand, some weapon and shield, and others bow or crossbow. When these monsters are killed they mostly drop the weapons you saw on them. This is a cool thing as you can then see and pick up that nasty weapon that drained so much hit points of yours. The cannon fodder levels up with you and comes in three difficulties: Normal, elite and legendary. When fighting a legendary venom dragon at level 80, you shouldn't come unprepared. All in all the monsters are interesting foes that won't bore you for a long time to come.
Another good thing in Fate is your true companion, your pet. You start out with a little dog or cat, sniffing all around you and making the dungeon a not so lonely place to be. Soon you will discover that this little doggy or kitty has quite some skills to offer. It has an inventory as big as yours that you can fill with loot, and you can send your pet back to town to sell it autonomously. To top that your pet is a ruthless fighter that will attack every enemy on sight, gain experience for it and level up. When your pet's hit points are eaten up, it won't die, but flee. After some time regenerating or a healing spell or potion of yours, your pet is back with a vengeance. Furthermore you can equip your pet with three items of jewelry that will make it even better. But the coolest feature, by far, is that you can buy / angle / find different kinds of fish throughout your journey that, fed to your pet, will transform it into a monster, the better the fish the longer. There's even fish that will transform your pet permanently. It's just plain cool to run around with your own beholder, giant spider or owlbear, and in difficult fights a transformed pet can make the difference between life and death. All in all, your tiny cat or dog from the beginning will turn into a customizable, powerful ally over time that will save your life once in a while, especially in the starting levels.
As in many RPG's you start out with a poor character that needs some serious developing. Fate gives you complete freedom to develop that character you always wanted to play. The game offers four attributes, fifteen skills, and over fifty spells to learn and improve. You can aim for a dual-weapon tank with plate armor and a quad hammer in each hand. You can develop an arch mage dressed like Santa Claus that can throw every kind of attack spell you can think of. Or a dark summoner that always has a horde of zombies or skeletons around him. Possibilities are endless, but you should stick with your choice as there are not enough experience points available for a multi-trained character.
Finally, it has to be noted that the game is near bug free. I never experienced a desktop crash or freeze of game play. These days, this is not always the case.
The BadAlthough Fate is a cool, well designed game, some nitpicks still hamper the gaming experience. Let me describe the biggest of them:
Although your pet is a helpful companion, you will sometimes hate it. That's these moments when you want to sneak by some monsters, and your little doggy runs into them attacking. Some sort of tactical combat is made quite hard by this, if not impossible. Furthermore, your pet, monsters, and summoned allies have a serious pathfinding problem at times. Especially when you use the haste spell, and therefore run around like a human lightning, your allies will occasionally get stuck and not be able to follow you. Or you want to make your pet directly pick up an item, and it is buried between your summons. They won't make it themselves.
I got frustrated with the merchants at times. They reshuffle their stock every time you visit them, but constantly offer items that are either too expensive right now, or can't be used with your current experience. Or both. If you saved millions of gold for a new shiny sword, and you just don't get an opportunity to spend for hours, it makes you crazy. The same problem is that, sometimes, you just can't stock up on enough healing potions. Imagine you fight a difficult boss monster and beam up to town to refill your rucksack - and there's only one healing potion offered. Nah.
Fate can be quite difficult - that's okay. But it means that you will eventually die and get to choose between three options to continue playing: Stay where you are but pay with some experience, get beamed to a nearby location and pay with some gold, or get teleported three levels upwards but leave your gold where you fell. That's interesting options, but: When you play at higher difficulties, paying with experience is just no option. Levelling up takes long and longer - and your enemies grow strong and stronger. Paying with gold is also lame as you'll find yourself constantly saving for that new weapon or piece of armor that might come your way. So you will choose to leave your gold where it is and get back to it from three levels upwards. One time I couldn't find my money and nearly bit my keyboard. One way or the other, the death system gets more frustrating the deeper into the dungeon you delve.
Finally, to be honest, fifty levels is too much. Although the designers gave us so much variety, it isn't enough to hinder serious repetition. Once you've seen all the dungeon designs and many of the monsters and items, playing Fate becomes a little boring. The quests are just randomly generated fetch or kill requests, and character development and equipping new shiny items just becomes a rare occasion at higher levels. Honestly, twentyfive or thirty levels per game would have been enough.