Fate is about unstoppable action combined with repetitive gameplay.

User Rating: 6.5 | FATE PC
A lot of titles tried to mimic the hack 'n slash formula from Diablo (1996, Blizzard), but what most developers can't understand is that games aren't made only of frantic gameplay, since story and engaging atmosphere are indispensable for a good experience. Someone should say this to WildTangent, the creators of Fate (2005), an obvious tribute to Blizzard's hellish RPG Action.

The idea behind this game is nothing different from what we've seen during all these years: you start the game by choosing a boy or gal (yes, kids) and then you can customize their looking. Personally I made a boy with a big mustache and beard (!), and, honestly, I kinda liked the way he looked, especially because I had already decided to develop a spell caster.

And this is where the game differentiates a bit from the great majority of the RPG Action titles: Like in Titan Quest and some others, in Fate you develop your character based on how you distribute your experience points. There aren't pre-made templates to choose from, so you can personalize your hero as much as you want. Keep in mind that this high level of customization may produce some very weak characters, but experienced RPG players will be satisfied to find that this system is quite flexible.

Although this may upset more serious players, when you start a campaign you're forced to pick up either a cat or a dog to follow you in your journey. My future mage made the feline choice, but both animals are used to attack, collect and hold items for you and even sell them at the town automatically. This makes the game more dynamic, but honestly I prefer to do things all by myself, alone. At least the pets can be upgraded to more horrific and powerful creatures (thankfully, because after the third or fourth "mew", you'll want to slaughter the little kitty in no time).

But the interesting stuff ends here. You start the game in the cartoonish town of Groove, and a NPC tells you to kill a random high-level monster (a tiger, a dragon, a goblin... it doesn't really matter), which creeps around in the deepest levels of a cursed dungeon. Feeling familiar already? You'll basically venture further and further in this dungeon until you find and kill the marked monster, so you can retire your character and pass his/her items to the heir. Alternatively, you may continue playing with your hero until you get tired, because the dungeon levels are limitless; actually, according to the official forums of WildTangent, the game crashes after you advance to the 2,147,483,648th level. =)

Excluding the town, everything in the game is randomized: loot, monsters, dungeon levels, side quests and, as I said above, even the main quest. The game feels generic in that way and, from my point of view, it's necessary to put a few unique moments to make a game interesting. In the same level you faced a dragon, you may cross paths with the walking dead, goblins, tigers, yetis... it's really a fuss. And the environments aren't as varied as they should be, considering the bizarre menagerie that this dungeon holds.

At least the game rewards you nicely; so nicely that it becomes easy even at the hardest level ("Legend" difficulty). For instance, my special staff had exactly 13 magic properties. This is because, in addition to the powerful artifacts that you can easily find, the town of Groove is blessed with a blacksmith that can upgrade your items to unbelievable levels. It's an expensive resource, but if you explore the dungeon maps fully, you can accumulate literally millions of gold in no time.

Aside from the demigod smith, the town is the place to go if you want to buy and sell stuff, as well as upgrade them with sockets (which you can find in the dungeon or buy at vendors). The side quests are given from regular town folks; these fellas must be either bloodthirsty butchers or absentminded people suffering from amnesia, because they are always asking you to kill someone or to find a specific lost item.

But let's not bash Fate too much. There're some few shining concepts which I couldn't forget to write about. First of all there is this bard in the town that upgrades your fame level for a price. You gain fame levels and their respective titles when you kill special tough monsters or accomplish missions; however boosting the experience bar with the bard will make your character advance more quickly (plus you'll find a use for your endless gold reserve). When you level up by acquiring fame you'll gain four skill points. And, as in any RPG game, your hero also levels up by the regular method: by killing monsters. In the traditional way you'll receive both attribute and skill points to spare.

As I said earlier, this is where Fate definitely shines. Since there aren't predefined classes to choose from, you're able to design your own class by boosting the attributes and skills that you prefer. If you want a true melee brute, feel free to spend all your points in strength and vitality. If you prefer to mix might and magic, you may increase both strength and magic regularly, so you can combine the defensive spells with a good close-combat weapon. Or, my favorite, if you're going to develop a wizard, why not spend your experience points into your spell caster's capabilities?

The skills are varied in functionality but pretty limited in amount. You may upgrade your ability to better swing a particular type of weapon or to block incoming attacks with a shield. If you're into the spell casting stuff, there're three types of magic in Fate: Charm (AKA summoning), Attack (offensive spells) and Defense (healing and protection in general). Personally I upgraded only my Attack Magic skill, so I could trample my enemies as fast as possible. But I reckon that the other categories of spells are all useful. This is because there're enemies, at least in "Legend" difficulty, that are immune to all kind of magic.

The gameplay in Fate is as good as in any other quality RPG Action title. The controls are responsive and it's easy to combine the spells to cast them in the correct time. If you're playing with a melee fighter, you'll also find handy to quickly switch between your weapon slots, so you can damage the enemies with different sources of damage without any problem. A bit of strategy is eventually necessary, but the fast-paced action isn't that punishing to not allow you to think wisely during the combats.

WildTangent tried to make a fun game rather than a serious one, but the dull missions, over-the-top randomization system and lack of multiplayer aren't appealing for everyone. The action sequences (repetitive yet frenetic) and character customization are really the nice concepts that save this game from a mediocre score. If you look at Fate simply as a cool game, then you'll manage to overlook the issues and enjoy the dungeon crawling for at least a few days.