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The Guided Fate Paradox Review

Game

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Rebecca Richards

Nippon Ichi blends the Disgaea format with the increasingly popular roguelike, but does it work? Find out in our review.

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Published on Oct 21, 2013

So, you're god. Actually a god.

Well, the latest god in a line of gods. And god's job is apparently to navigate his way through the wishes of his believers via the Fate Revolution Circuit, a machine that replicates the essence of the "Real World" (though more often than not it's a copy of a fictional story).

Within this copy it's up to you, chosen as god via the lottery machine of destiny, to fulfil a wish that has been made. Oh, you're also an awkward teenager because, well, it's a JRPG.

So far, so nonsensically cute.

Each wish involves fighting through dungeons of monsters, or aberrations, who don't want the fate of the person to be changed, to reach a satisfying conclusion for everyone involved. Confused yet?

Don't worry; it's Nippon Ichi, so the sooner you lie back, relax, and let the crazy wash over you, the easier it is to get properly involved with the dungeon-crawling. Because that part is awesome.

With comparisons to Disgaea being inevitable, The Guided Fate Paradox is one of those deceptively masochistic tactical RPGs designed to cause equal amounts of frustration and resolution.

With a slow start, establishing you as rather a reluctant and sceptical god, The Guided Fate Paradox holds your hand for about 45 minutes, then decides that's probably enough of that.

Remember when you thought this was a cutesy nonsensical JRPG? 'Shame on you', says The Guided Fate Paradox. 'Let me just fix that…'

A Disgaea Roguelike

Initially thrown into an overwhelming world, the hand-holding doesn't actually stop, it just becomes less visible.

The Guided Fate Paradox has got that Spelunky-esque gameplay of trial and error (often with infuriating spawnpoints) that we expect from roguelikes, only here dying horribly is built into how you learn.

If you die unexpectedly in a dungeon, and you will, then all sorts of new safety nets will spring up. After you've died, of course. After you lost that sweet Prinny car with the doubled-up stats and that mushroom hat that didn't do shit but looked awesome. Yeah, after that.

While this can feel a little unfair - randomly-generated dungeons mean that if you spawn in a monster room, heralded with a heart-sinking "ABERRATIONS OUT THE WAZOO!", you're pretty much dead before you've barely had a chance to move - you just have to accept that failure is a necessary part of progression.

Not everything unlocks until you've died a few times, while some stat-boosting methods are handed out in segments.

It's an incredibly divisive method of instruction; losing everything and then being told cheerfully 'Oh, hey, now you've died, have this thing that would have totally saved you about thirty seconds ago' can just be too frustrating.

Especially when you feel like you're being bombarded with body modifications and holy icons, and 'here's how to boost your stats', and 'here's how to boost the boost of your stats', all the while wondering when you get to take the little dragon guy with you instead of the simpering twinkly angel you've currently got to put up with.

The Layers Of The Guided Fate Paradox

It'll take several dungeons before you're comfortable using all of the many and varied systems; this isn't for the most part something you can dip into.

But give it a little patience and you'll soon uncover one of the deepest tactical levelling systems we've seen, for better or worse.

Weapons can be upgraded when they "Burst" from use; this leaves you with Holy Icons (stats boosts) to place in your Divinigram; which can also have added Holy Artifacts (for additional perks). And they all interlink.

That's really just scratching the surface; there's so much more to get involved with.

Initially it's best to play it safe, rinsing through the levels you've already done to boost your base stats, but as you open it up there's a great sense of freedom.

Replay dungeons to boost your current weapons and base stats or press on and go loot-hunting?

Although, it's only real freedom once you've mastered what it all means, and for a good long while that just won't happen, that overwhelmed feeling lingering intentionally on The Guided Fate Paradox's part.

Some Fates, or wishes, are split into two - making them perfect for grinding and getting to grips with the system - while others require one sitting and a good bit of levelling up to get you to the point where you can face a boss, as your level starts from one each dungeon (though your base stats increase).

The body modifications in the Divinogram are a brilliantly complex levelling device, and are essentially the core of the game, but it'll take a few restarts before you really know what you're doing.

Still, though it inevitably slows the natural pace of the game, everything is replayable or replacable.

The Guided Fate Paradox Review

Wishes themselves have a great variety of level design, with a favourite of ours involving being cannonballed across rooftops.

On the downside, it can be a little frustrating to break that to listen to the characters have endless cutscene dialogue working out how to resolve the prayed-for wish, particularly when you've already seen exactly where the story will go and are just waiting for it to play out.

Thankfully, though, cutscenes are entirely skippable, and the ridiculous angels vs demons, god vs wishes, real life vs god duties story can be pretty much ignored if you want.

It's standard JRPG fare, all melodrama, emotions, and betrayal.

Despite this, the main characters are incredibly tongue-in-cheek and self-aware, which does make it difficult to really connect with any of them.

Still, the wishes are often endearing, with the occasional surprising moment of genuine emotion like a little sister trying to understand adult love, concerned for her broken-hearted sibling, or a fairytale character questioning her purpose in the world.

And in all honesty, very few of you will or should be playing this for the story. Which is excellent news, because as a tactical RPG roguelike dungeon-crawler, it's bloody good.

 

Score Breakdown
Graphics
7.0 / 10
Sound
7.5 / 10
Gameplay
9.0 / 10
Longevity
9.0 / 10
Multiplayer
N/A / 10
Overall
8.0 / 10
Final Verdict
A punishing tactical JRPG in a deceptively cute wrapper, The Guided Fate Paradox is for those who love Disgaea but wish it was just a little more complex. The difficulty of dungeons ramps up at an overwhelming pace, and doesn't ease off.
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Game Details
Format:
PS3
Release Date:
25/10/2013
Price:
£34.99
Publisher:
NIS America
Developer:
Nippon Ichi Software
Genre:
RPG
No. of players:
1
Verdict
8.0 /10
The Guided Fate Paradox looks like a game for children, even acts like it sometimes, but it's a deeply tactical JRPG with complex stats-based depth.
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