Everybody dreams of power. The ability to accomplish your goals without compromise and succeed. That being said, dreams are difficult to realise. They take time, consistent effort and the desire to continue on after suffering a setback. After all, it’s not like someone is just going to descend from the skies and bestow you with near limitless power…
I think we all know where I’m going with this. Shin Kamikaze is your all around anti-social, middling type who has no intention of making friends or really doing anything of note. Bing bang boom, suddenly winged messengers fly down from above and, you guessed it, stab him through the heart. Sorry, that’s not what you thought would happen? Oh. Well, if it makes you feel any better, he got over it. With a shiny new crystal heart, our technically undead protagonist finds himself with some winged allies and a nice title to go along with them; God. Yep, congrats dude, your God now. Unfortunately it isn’t all clouds and light, as you are now commander of a heavenly army in the midst of war with the devils. Your typical biblical throwdown, only with the added bonus of an anime filter…so cute girls pop up all over the place.
With the scene set, the game sends you through the ringer of choice with a handy dandy morality system. What this boils down to is an Ultimate Choice that crops up roughly once per chapter, forcing you to committ to either the Angel or Devil path. Though far from a new concept, I was actually quite surprised by the ambiguousness of some of these choices. Though Angel options are brimming with mercy and good intentions, they are often far from practical in a time of war. This is presented very clearly early on, when you are told to either heal the few, or drive off an opposing force and save the many. This system also blended into story progression quite well, as Shin’s progressively increasing power and familiarity with combat allows him to succeed in choices that would have previously failed, namely those of the Angel path.
As this is a Japanese visual novel, the two morality routes are personified by your two attractive companions Jupiel and Ariael. Though they possess differing opinions, the fact that they both seek the same outcome adds a nice chemistry to their dialogue. Additional scenes wherein you choose which of the two you desire to talk to, with heavy relationship implications, also allows you to learn more of who they are and why they act as they do. All of this culminates in a set of characters that develop nicely over the course of the game.
Speaking of duality, let’s dive into the actual gameplay shall we? As you are now God, you are in possession of both power light and dark. This means that, at any time, you are able to Deitize into either Angel or Devil form (which is presented as a cool set of half armour for each, left for Devil and right for Angel). Similarly, opponents are split into these two categories, forcing you to take on the opposite form when combatting them. Basically what this means is that you’ll be doing a whole lot of form shifting. Like, a lot. Though to be honest I enjoyed the freedom of it, it’s surprisngly rare to be given free reign over power right from the onset of a game, it was a nice change of pace. Combat itself boils down to hit bad guy to death before he does the same to you. Simple. As you accrue levels and point crystals from Ultimate Choices, you do gain access to some special skills that will help you out, but not without cost. As both forms and all skills draw from the same gauge, you must be careful not to let it run out, lest you be reverted to human form (otherwise known as “a target for everyone).
Though it lacks the subtitle, Awakened Fate is very much a Mystery Dungeon title, albeit a stripped down one. Each chapter is presented as a series of randomised floors that you must traverse. This, of course, means that luck determines whether this game is alarmingly easy, or frustratingly hard. Sure levelling plays into it, but if you spawn in a room of six enemies, you’re pretty much screwed, or at least out some Revive Gems. Oh, I also forgot to mention that if you do die in a dungeon, you lose every item in your possession. You do keep those you’ve stashed in the Storehouse menu and your experience remains, but losing a powered up weapon in this game is a heavy blow. Perhaps even heavy enough for you to forgo the experience and reload a pre-loss save file. It was for me. So save often people.
As a visual novel, Awakened Fate possesses your typical 2D character forms atop dialogue boxes, taking up the majority of non-gameplay segments. It doesn’t look bad or anything, but a lot of action is merely implied as characters shift between their few expressions. Combined with the chibi style of dungeon crawling, I just felt that much of the impact from the wartime setting was lost. On a positive note, the 3D gameplay segments were smooth and the style prevented anything from becoming visually overwhelming.
As far as audio is concerned, the music was your standard fare orchestral score, supporting the action well, but not really standing out too much. The most awesome song would have to be that of the introduction, kicking things off with some nice guitar work. The English dub was also presented well, with enough emotion behind it to sell most moments.
Overall, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum was a fun game. Though the whole “light v dark” concept has been done time and time again, it was actually kind of refreshing to see it played out so simply, with your character outright being given superior power. There was enough character development to notice a difference and the morality system was pretty darn strong. I will however, say that the gameplay felt like a simpler take on the Mystery Dungeon series. While this prevented the game from becoming bothersome for the most part, it also made it feel as if this title could’ve found a comfortable home on the PS Vita. So although it doesn’t break ground with a plethora of new concepts, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum does what it does well and provides quite a fun experience.