NIS America’s The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, is a PlayStation 3 rogue-like dungeon crawling Jrpg and the sequel to 2013’s The Guided Fate Paradox.
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum’s story is fairly simple in its premise, Shin Kamikaze, a teenager with no close friends is killed on the way back from school. Transported to the world of Celestia, he is revived back to life by angels using ‘The Fate Awakening Crystal’. He is told that he has now become god and it is his job to put an end to the ongoing war between the angels and the devils.
Probably the most surprising part of my time with The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is how immersed I was with the game’s story. It takes a while to get going and employs a number of anime-style genre tropes i.e. cutsey characters, teenage angst and a main character quite adept at missing the most blatant hints of affection. However, it skilfully plays on Shin’s morals; the pressures put on him as a newly formed deity and his preconcieved attitude towards devils and angels.
Early on in the game, you are introduced to Jupiel and Ariael. They serve as Shin’s guides in Celestia and are charged with overseeing his transition to becoming god. At first glance, both seem to be fairly one-dimensional characters. Jupiel – an attentive, timid, holier than thou angel and Ariael – the tough, slightly ‘tsundere’ lackadaisical scientist.
It becomes apparent as you continue through the game that Jupiel is actually quite head strong, with a strong sense of justice and responsibility; willing to take a stand and go against the grain when the time calls for it. Similarly, Ariael shows a deeper side to her than first appears.
The voice work for the main cast is great and really helps to fully realise each characters idiosyncracies. Even against the some times wonky dialogue, the cast are able to articulate the melancholy, humour or eccentricity of the moment.
As you progress through each mission, Shin will be faced with making a choice in order to further the story. The choices can be deciding which of the two main girls Shin wants to spend time with. Or, they can be a moral choice such as; who to save and who to leave behind.
The moral choices don’t entirely change much – the consequences of your choices have very little impact on the total outcome of the story. They are however, interesting, if not a bit emotionally manipulative – often negative outcomes are inevitable whichever choice you make.
The majority of the gameplay for each mission comes through the dungeon crawling. Each dungeon is randomly generated with up to 15 floors of randomly spawning enemies.
In order to best defeat the monsters lurking inside each dungeon, you need to utilise your angel and devil forms. Using your devil form against angel type enemies decreases your damage taken and increases your attack damage. The same is true for using your angel form against devil types.
No matter where the story is taking place, you will encounter both angel and devil forms of enemies. Carefully swapping between your two forms and paying attention to the enemy types is the key to success.
When in a dungeon there are 3 gauges which you need to keep track of HP, SP and AC. SP is used whenever you take an action in either your devil or angel form; skills used in either form take a set amount of SP, while moving around uses 2 SP per turn. AC depletes as you move through each floor, it starts at 100, when it reaches 0 you are automatically kicked out of the dungeon.
Grinding through the dungeons can become a bit monotonous – you walk a bit, encounter an enemy, switch to devil or angel form, defeat the enemy and walk a bit more. There is very little to hold your interest in the environment, bar the odd chest, pickup or hidden trap.
Things get a bit deeper outside of combat, every time you level up or make a choice in the game you gain CP. This is used to level up your devil or angel forms by unlocking nodes in the game’s grid based leveling system. Each node will either increase your HP, ATK, DEF or will grant you a new skill.
Even with a high leveled character, traversing through the tougher dungeons can be frustrating. You can fight your way through enemies on numerous floors, only to get surrounded on all sides by monsters, becoming their punching bag and dying with no easy way to escape.
Further to this, when you die in a dungeon you lose all the items and weapons you were carrying. You can continue from the 1st floor of the dungeon, but it is basically pointless, your best bet is to reload from a previous save point and start again.
The annoyance of dying, reloading a save and starting from the beginning is something that comes with the genre. However, the hassle of being mobbed, and the lack of variation in the gameplay makes reloading even more of an annoyance.
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum’s lack of intersection between story and gameplay is one of its major downfalls. You can spend over half an hour in a protracted narrative scene; complete with witty character banter, Shin’s inner monologue, story choices and beautiful character art. Then spend over an hour in a dungeon with no dialogue, story or reference to what is going on at all, making for an awkwardly disjointed experience.
When the game Inter-splices the story between floors of a dungeon, giving the player time to enjoy the art, quirky characters and great voice work is when The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is at its best. The dungeon crawling can feel like a more chore than adventure, but the leveling system, item crafting and story more than make up for it.