Though the PS4 may be the big man on campus, it’s older brother, the PS3, is still getting its share of attention. From NIS America, we have The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, a dungeon crawler aimed at fans looking for a more “hardcore” experience. However, this likely won’t be the kind of game that makes you dust off old faithful if you are already entrenched in the current generation.
You’ll be tasked with navigating grid based dungeons with multiple floors, each containing treasures, traps, and a compliment of baddies. Interacting with objects is as simple as fighting enemies, just press X. Shortly after beginning the game you’ll be given your “Resonant Deitize”, allowing you to take on bonus angel or devil power. Using this power is critical to your long term survival as enemies will be weak to one or the other. Attacking and moving in these forms use SP, which is replenished by items and by traversing the dungeon. AC is drained the longer you remain in a dungeon and, when empty, can prove to prematurely end your adventure by draining your life. Losing all of your HP not only means you fail the dungeon, but you lose access to all items you were carrying, including equipped weapons and accessories. While it is generally easy to manage your various resources, one moment of carelessness is all it takes to lose everything, which is an understandably frustrating prospect.
When not in dungeons, you’ll spend the majority of your time scrolling through conversations between your allies. Aside from that you’ll navigate basic menus to manage your items and equipment, as well as replay past dungeons for more loot and levels. Each level and major decision grants you a point that can be used to level up your Resonant Deitize, either angel or devil. Points can unlock more attack, HP, or even new skills to be used in each form.
You, a mild mannered student, raised poor and without any friends, are suddenly thrust into the endless struggle between angels and devils. Stop me when you realize you’ve heard this before. Yes, you are the chosen one (God, in this case) in this very cliché story. The main draw is the player choices that can be made throughout the game that have an impact on your tale. Choosing to save injured angels or increase you attack against the devils would carry much more weight if the game managed to give you a reason to care. Instead it haphazardly tries to inject meaningful decisions without context. This leads more so to a decision of what kind of XP you want to receive from choosing sides, rather than what the decisions actually mean. It also doesn’t help that the characters meant to effectively embody each side of the coin are fairly dull and one dimensional, despite multiple attempts to convince you otherwise.
Despite the generally hardcore nature of gameplay, the art style is anything but. Your chibi character wanders dungeons in an almost laughable (not in a bad way) fashion. The dungeons themselves are fairly dull, but the enemies that populate it are interesting. The world outside of the dungeons is fairly classic anime styling, but in this case that is a very good thing. The models in dialogues are well detailed and high quality. Voice acting, on the other hand, is far from that. Aside from the main character, the english cast is dreadfully dull sounding. If you don’t absolutely need the dub, try playing in Japanese with english subs. This coming from someone who always prefers the dub.
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum’s highly unoriginal story plays things far too safe. Rather than at least try to hide the clichés, it seems to think players will just ignore them, which is probably true. It does try to spice things up with the player choices, but again, these have little meaning in their context and barely even serve as a distraction. This is certainly a game inspired by other, similar games that came before it, and that is perfectly fine, but it lacks that special something to make it stand out.
The Big Question:
The biggest question surrounding the game is its relevance. Is it relevant enough to draw in existing PS3 owners? Maybe, if you are a fan of NIS America’s previous work, then this could certainly be a good game for you. Is it enough to draw in new players or players who are already invested in the new consoles? Absolutely not. Perhaps an even better question would be should this game have launched on the Vita, rather than or in addition to the PS3. Though the PS3 certainly presents more possible players, Vita owners jump at the chance to play a new game. Chalk this one up as a missed opportunity.
Though the story may bore, there is no shortage of things to do to. You could easily spend over 20 hours playing and replaying dungeons, improving gear, and killing enemies. The actual value of that time will depend on how much you like this kind of game. If you just need a game where you can mindlessly invest dozens of hours, then this will surely get the job done. The $40 asking price is nice and is fairly indicative of the quality you can expect, for better or for worse.