2013, for JRPG lovers, was a year full of interesting releases and titles. Among more or less high-sounding names of the Japanese role-playing scene we also find The Guided Fate Paraodx (hereafter TGFP), a dungeon crawler developed by Nippon Ichi that mixes roguelike mechanics and characteristics typical of turn-based strategy. But let's find out together what to expect from this new adventure bravely brought to Europe by Nis America exclusively for PlayStation 3.
Overwhelmed by an unusual fate
Put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist, Renya, a normal student with a flat and quiet life. One day, during an afternoon like any other, he is invited to participate in a lottery with prizes. Unaware of the fate that awaits him, he decides to try his luck, not knowing that he would soon become a real God. Incredulous and unconvinced of the new situation, Renya will be helped and guided by the tender Liliel, a novice angel who it will help to become familiar with our omnipotence.
Renya's task, as a deity, will be to listen to people's wishes and rush to their aid, changing the course of events and helping to change their destiny. All this will be possible thanks to the Fate Revolution Circuit, a machine that allows you to get in touch with the unfortunate poor in need of help, in what is a copy of the real world, but which will have repercussions in the smooth running of events.
As per Nippon Ichi tradition, the story of TGFP will be quite light-hearted and over the top, capable of getting a big laugh on more than one occasion, although the story was also designed to develop interesting food for thought, especially regarding the status. of God and on the power to influence the lives of others, working with moral choices that are not exactly in tune with the will of the young Renya. The story in fact develops, especially in the first hours of the game, in a rather massive way, leaving the playful part a role that definitely takes a back seat. Almost like in a graphic novel you will find yourself passively watching the course of events that will intertwine those of Renya and Liliel with those of the protagonists of the various stories that we will have to help. Quotes and moments of pure narrative nonsense will not fail to season everything, an element that has always been characteristic of Nippon Ichi productions.
Each mission will start from Celestia, the fairy world where the Make Revolution Circuit. From our headquarters, which will act as a hub, we will find different options such as the blacksmith, to make or upgrade weapons and equipment, the bank where to deposit excess objects or the various characters with whom we can interact. Once ready for the mission it will be possible to use the machinery to reach the Copy World and take part in the mission.
Each dungeon will be generated from time to time in a random way, and we will be able to move freely within it. We are in control of Renya, as well as we will have full freedom over her equipment. Our every movement will correspond to that of our enemies who will move on the game grid according to our moves in a sort of action that mixes turn-based combat with that in real time. It will not be possible to intervene on the actions of our playmate directly, but only by giving him some orders on the tactic to use, making him act accordingly. Here TGFP shows the first strategies as it will be essential to always think well about how to behave according to the various situations. In addition, our trusted angel, as a good guide, will help us understand all the mechanisms of the Fate Revolution Circuit, as well as provide us with help in battle both against enemies and with support skills. All this only until we have to face the boss on duty, in which it will be necessary to rely only on our skills, as the angel will not be able to intervene in any way. The missions will follow a specific process, which will soon become cyclical and well-defined situations. In fact, we will find a first introductory part that will help us understand what is happening, which will be followed by the exploration of the level. At each floor we will be interrupted by a cut-scene that continues the development of the plot and so on up to the boss at the end of the level.
Another aspect to always keep in mind during TGFP matches will be death. When our HP reaches zero, the game will end and we will be returned to Celestia. But there is a but. All the progress made in the game, as regards the increase of the statistics related to the level-up will form what represents an overall level of the character and will not be touched. In fact, at the beginning of each dungeon our protagonist will start from level 1, and then progress with the experience gained. With each increase, the statistics will also increase and will increase the total ones of the character, once the exploration is finished, and then start over in the next dungeon. However, what we will lose in the event of a game over will be linked to our inventory, which will be reset and our assets which will be halved. This kind of "punishment" for having perished in battle, however, does not represent a real obstacle, as it will be enough to go back to fight to get back to the numerous objects released by the enemies.
The red thread of destiny
TGFP is to be regarded as the spiritual heir of Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger VS. Darkdeath Evilman, another dungeon crawler from Nippon Ichi released years ago on the PSP and of which it inherits several features such as the complete customization of the characters through the equipment recovered and which will be clearly visible in the appearance of our fighter or in the ability to raise enemies or playmates to throw them at a point on the map, an element that adds another level to the various feasible game strategies.
The playful and laughing aspect of the game, however, also hides a certain depth in the gameplay and in the game structure. In addition to leveling to increase our characteristics we will be able to act on our character through the Body Modification. By modifying and adding special boxes, each of which related to one of the aspects of our character (such as attack, defense, speed or the percentage of critical hits), we will further improve certain characteristics, unlock new skills and improvements of various kinds. The boxes to be applied inside the Divinigram will be obtainable by using and varying the equipment as often as possible, which once reached a percentage of completion battle after battle will release one of the boxes, however losing effectiveness and forcing the player to use new ones or to restore those in possession.
Also interesting is the control system that makes extensive use of the analog sticks of the Playstation 3 pad with a mapping of the commands that allows you to select on the fly the menu we want or the skill we want to use in battle simply by tilting the lever in the direction indicated by some icons on the screen and that once taken the hand will make everything quick and immediate.
As for the difficulty of the game, TGFP undergoes a surge upwards after passing the first missions, which leads the player to live with sudden and often too numerous deaths. Each dungeon will have checkpoints that will take you back to Celestia and allow you to continue the adventure at the point that was interrupted, thus allowing you to deposit some items in the bank in anticipation of premature deaths or to restore your equipment.
The increase in difficulty also forces you to have to replay the various missions in order to level up and be prepared to face the most difficult bosses. These represent the real challenge of the game, and once we arrive in their presence we will have to work hard to complete the mission. The rules learned so far will be broken, forcing us to study new methods of attack or implementing very different strategies. Also in terms of the design of the maps, generated randomly from time to time, there is a certain attention, especially after the first hours of play with visually interesting solutions, such as cubic worlds that can be explored on each side or dungeons that change their morphology with each movement. . All these solutions are demonstrations that even in the roguelike genre it is possible to go beyond the schemes pre-imposed by the classicism of a genre that is perhaps too closed in on itself and that after years of modernization of this kind are more than appreciable, even by the most malicious fundamentalists. TGFP will also be able to entertain you for many hours. In addition to the main story, which can be completed in a span of hours that is around 50, based on how long you will spend grinding in the various dungeons, the game offers a full-bodied post game and several special dungeons where we can hone our fighting skills and obtain equipment worthy of a God.
Angels, demons and even Cinderella
Having said that, it is also right to say a few words for what concerns the graphic aspect of TGFP. Starting from the assumption that it is a title on which who knows what budget has not been, the visual sector is quite limited and anachronistic, almost to be compared to a game of the softeca PlayStation 2. Beyond the pleasant characters design curated by Noizi Ito, Japanese artist and author of numerous visual novels, the game offers the essential in terms of graphics. From the sprites of the characters and enemies, animated in a basic way to some graphic effect used for special moves, everything appears quite coarse and not very refined. Again with regard to the sprites of the characters they suffer from a low resolution compared to that in the close up, which leads to an annoying pixel effect, which has always been a negative element of Nippon Ichi productions. Even the settings suffer from this graphic poverty, which in addition to a common theme for each dungeon, fail to impose themselves or to be visually interesting except for the findings listed above. Even during the more relaxed phases inherent to the narrative part of the game, everything takes place through static screens, or interspersed with the silhouettes of the various characters, but also without any movement.
The choice of musical themes is interesting, with a soundtrack that focuses on J-metal with a selection of songs entirely sung and used as battle themes, which give the clashes that epic and sustained touch that the game boasts, especially during the boss fight. As per NIS America tradition, the European version includes dual audio as regards dubbing with the possibility of selecting at will between the original Japanese or the English one.
Verdict 7.5 / 10 God Apprentice Comment The Guided Fate Paradox is a pleasant surprise for all JRPG lovers. Despite the limited resources, Nippon Ichi has managed to pack a pleasant title capable of rejuvenating certain dynamics of roguelikes. A title certainly not for everyone and with a level of challenge that rises after the first few hours, but which, thanks to a fairly intuitive approach and a well-present and fun story, can also be of interest to those who have always avoided certain variants. Those who loved Zettai Hero Project will find their worthy heir in The Guided Fate Paradox. Pros and cons ✓ Pleasant texture
✓ Ost apt
✓ Cool and fun game system x Technically dated
x Difficulty curve not well calibrated