The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a Japanese role playing game (RPG) that uses the not-so-popular dungeon crawler system to generate the levels. It’s a sequel to The Guided Fate Paradox, which was released in 2013. You play as Shin Kamikaze (aka “God”) who used to be a regular schoolboy until he was killed by devils and resurrected by angels. The game has you make decisions throughout to determine the progress of the plot with a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ decision accompanying each situation. You’re guided through the game by Jupey and Ariael who represent good and bad respectfully.
As an RPG, AFU plays it’s fairly safe. It sticks with the dungeon crawling formula quite nicely, providing procedurally generated environments without any fuss. Items and weapons work as you’d expect too, with typical RPG equipping and you level up by bashing as many enemies as possible. As ever, you’re restricted by an AP meter (think hunger bar) and you regain health and SP (magic) by wandering around. You regain health and SP a little too quickly, which does hinder the difficulty somewhat, and making the SP and HP regeneration items a little redundant, even in the late game. The majority of the system seems to lack any real uniqueness however, deciding instead to play it safe.
The stand-out feature is being able to transform into either an Angel or Devil (both deplete SP) to do more damage to either Angels or Devils. The system is a little flawed though, with a simple exploit of attacking in one of the modes for additional damage, then shifting back to human to quickly regain SP before attacking again. It’s an unfortunate oversight that makes the game fairly easy. Saying that though, the game has a penchant to throw you into a room with several enemies that can do large amount of damage to you, which leaves a bitter taste as you watch your character die through no fault of your own. The way around this is to grind through the painfully boring levels to try and gain experience in battles that usually take you two hits to win. In short, it’s monotonous and boring.
The story itself is progressed through lengthy talking sections, with dialogue which appears to be written by a teenager, all presented in a dating sim style fashion, with as minimal animation as possible. It’s all fairly shaky and uninteresting, as Shin tries to cope with his massive problem of being both indecisive and overloaded with angst. The dialogue attempts to be funny, even occasionally breaking the fourth in desperation, but often fails dramatically, killing any atmosphere the game was trying to create. The story is like something you’d expect to see in an Anime, and plays out like one, right down to the irritating but addictive opening theme song. You’re often thrown out elements that are there to make you think about moral decisions, but you often don’t care enough to be swayed by them, instead you just sit there trudging through all the angst filled dialogue.
Which segues nicely onto the Ultimatum part of the game. Basically, the game gives you moral decisions throughout to make you think about the implications of letting people die (for the most part). Most of them are either “save a smaller amount of people,” which are considered good decisions or “save the majority of people,” considered ‘bad’ decisions. Often the ‘bad’ decisions are the most logical and ultimately save more people throughout. Other decisions however, are somewhat less important, like “which one of the two main girls should [you] share a room with?” I’ll leave that with you… Most decisions affect the end result of the game, although some have predetermined outcomes, which is annoying as you can’t tell if your choices actually have any effect on the story at all. To be honest, most of the decision making boils down to testing your morals, with the game attempting to guilt trip you on the choices you’ve made, regardless of whether it’s supposed to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ option.
On a more superficial note, the games visual design is quite tidy, being mostly based on the recent trend of anime style, with a ‘chibi’ style being adopted for dungeon trudging. The in-dungeon design is quite basic, and would probably sit better on a handheld system rather than the PS3. The English dub isn’t fantastic but there have been significantly worse for this genre, so by comparison, it’s not all that bad either, possibly not helped by the fact that the Japanese dub is highly generic as well, so it’s really down to personal preference as to which language you want your ears to be assaulted in.
There’s a weapon upgrade system where you can combine weapons, shields and buffs to make them (allegedly) stronger but the benefits are rather minimal and it’s cheaper to just collect them when you find them in dungeons. The shop rarely offers anything of use either, with the generous item drops making it staggeringly easy to save (and make) cash. Death (well, fainting) costs you everything, but even the game recommends you load up your last save file to get everything back, so really dying is just an obstacle that takes up more time and isn’t all that punishing if you remember to save often. The upgrade system is quite large but just consists of more special attacks and health, attack and defence upgrades for either the angel or devil ability.
Ultimately, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, plays it rather safe on the majority of its core elements and the things it introduces are either flawed or played on so much that they become quickly irritating. The story is poorly written and leaves a lot to be desired, with the characters lacking personality and designed to be sources of pure, raw angst. The decision making seems to lean way too heavily on morals rather than rational thinking, making some choices rather pointless. The fighting is boring, so it’s a waste coming to this game for that either. If you want to play a dungeon crawler with a similar market aim, play the first two Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, as they tackle this genre a lot better, with a considerably more engaging story lines and characters.
Official Website: http://nisamerica.com/games/awakened_fate_ultimatum/