NIS certainly know their market, offering many well created RPG's that offer the gamer a wonderfully crafted storyline infused with their own style of humour with a serious amount of grinding, something you either like or don’t. With Disgaea being one of their main series of games that has a loyal following, it is a welcome change for them to try something a little different, releasing a new title that encompasses all that is good about their creative style, but this time set through a new world and so we have The Guided Fate Paradox, a new style of RPG, taking plenty from previous NIS titles and infusing some new ideas along the way.
You play as Renya Kagurazaka, an unlucky young man who feels that his life is just full of missed opportunities, fate passing him by and making him the unluckiest person in the world. In fact he presses on this subject so much, that initially, you do not really feel sorry for him and that he gets just what he deserves; moping around all day, woe is me at any opportunity. His negative outlook on himself also spreads to his thoughts on the opposite sex, with him having a very poor opinion and thoughts on whomever he ends up chatting to; it is no surprise he has no girlfriends. Anyway, back to the story where we join Renya still whinging about his bad luck as he is making his way through a shopping mall, only to be accosted by a young girl in a maid’s dress who offers him the chance to play in a lottery with many different prizes including the mysterious grand prize. Still being a negative sod he finally gives the lottery a try and lo and behold he wins, with the girl announcing “I shall let you become God” and then pulls out a huge baseball bat and whacks him on the head. Waking up in a strange new place, the maid, Lilliel, who is in fact an angel, explains that the grand prize was to become God, and with Renya’s new godly powers he needs to view the many world’s wishes and prayers and grant the most worthy selected by the other angels that reside at Celestia.
To help grant the prayers of the selected inhabitants, Renya needs to venture into the Fate Revolution Circuit a machine that takes information from the real original world and creates a copy world, allowing Renya to access and alter the copy world, which in turn alters the real world; the reason behind the copy world is that God needs to work behind the scenes, as if he was to venture to the real world his existence would be confirmed and then everyone would pray and ask for wishes which in turn will overload the Fate Revolution Circuit. Though it sounds complicated, the actual helping of the souls who pray is nothing more than fighting many monsters that inhabit the copy world, with these Aberrations effecting the real world’s decisions and choices.
With Celestia acting as the hub world, offering items and weapons shops that you would associate with a NIS RPG, the action is all based in the copy worlds created by the Fate Revolution Circuit. As Renya you move rather awkwardly around the isometric world, with a basic control that just does not work very well due to the camera angle being fixed at a 45 degree angle no matter how you manipulate it, which means forward is never actually forward. Though this may seem trifle to the reader, the game has a restriction in place in that every move made slowly depletes Renya’s energy, so with every wrong move you are quite harshly punished.
Even though Renya is a God, he has a lot of training to take into consideration first, with the angels always offering helpful advice on what is occurring, be it the basics of the grid based movement to the easy to use and enjoyable looting and upgrade system called the Divinigram in where you use tokens you earn by bursting weapons through overuse and then spending them to level up certain attributes. Apart from the energy restrictions, Renya is free to roam around the dungeons, looking not only for Abberations and loot but the portal to the next dungeon. The enemies that inhabit the dungeons have their own line of sight shown on the floor by highlighted areas that once you enter they will be aware and then take turn based moves to hunt you down and then attack. During these battles Renya has a huge assortment of powers at his disposal, with picking up loot from the floor and wearing it not only changing your characters appearance, from gas masks to tank tracks, fire rods to swords, daggers and guns, but they also offer a stat boost be it on defence or attack and their own special power that can be used in battle.
Aside from the unknown result of battles, the game will play out in a very linear plot, with you not having any real influence to the decisions made whilst in the copy world other than to watch the story unfold and continually beat up Aberrations. Thankfully the story manages to keep you entertained throughout, with worlds involving a weakling zombie and a Cinderella with attitude to name a couple.
The presentation is of the usual high standard offered by NIS, offering beautiful hand drawn characters and a weird and strange assortment of Aberrations to defeat but do not let the cute animated look make you feel safe as the language and content can be rude at times, where these sort of games tend to be more ambiguous and suggestive, The Guided Fate Paradox is a lot more vocal and blunt.
The first few hours aside, The Guided Fate Paradox really does become very enjoyable for any level of RPG fan as it has easy to follow instructions on what you can and can’t do plus a very deep and satisfying loot and level up system that will keep fans of grinding happy for days.
Words by Ash Buchanan
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ Great looking hand drawn characters.
+ Mostly voice acted.
+ Lots of grinding and looting to carry out.
- The first few hours are a real drag.
- Movement control can be confusing.
- Movement control can be confusing.