Nippon Ichi is no stranger to the roguelike genre. They’ve dabbled with it in some extent with previous titles such as Cladun, Legasista, and The Guided Fate Paradox. As a followup to the latter, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum once again puts NIS to the test and shows whether they can capture what makes the genre enjoyable or not. Can The Awakened Fate Ultimatum choose to be an enjoyable roguelike RPG, or is this one fated to be forgotten?
Enter Shin Kamikaze, high school student that’s bored of life and spends his days atop the school rooftop wishing for something more. Enter a swarm of devils that, for no immediate reason, attack him and leave him for dead (ie: straight up murdered). It’s then that he’s picked up by the angels from Celestia and bonds his soul to the Fate Awakening Crystal, imbuing upon him the power and status of being a God to help defend Celestia from the devils and other evil forces from the Netherworld. From there, he’s partnered up with Jupiel and Ariael, both beings that shared part of their souls in order to keep him alive. One’s the daughter of the current leader of Celestia, and the other is a devil that’s been brought aboard to work on the Fate Awakening Crystal despite her previous ties to the Netherworld.
Good and evil perhaps isn’t the best words to use in describing the two forces that are constantly at odds and waging war against one another. Prior to Shin becoming a god and fighting for Celestia, the kingdom was on the verge of defeat and nearly destroyed by the constant barrage of devil forces. However, the angels themselves aren’t the lawful good beings that their pristine white appearances would lead one to believe. They’re prejudicial, spiteful, and xenophobic of both devil and human alike. Without the protection of God, they’re prone to being wiped out at a moment’s notice by the devils but that doesn’t stop them from harassing Shin and his other companions throughout the course of the story.
Morality is another grey area that’s frequently handled in The Awakened Fate Ultimatum. Story choices pop up frequently that force Shin into choosing between two actions, sometimes ones that don’t have any positive outcome. You may curry favor with one of the two female companions, but at what cost? Frequently the act of trying to save one NPC’s life may lead to losing three more in the outcome. Unfortunately, beyond a few moments in the current story, most all of the ultimate choices will lead to the same outcome by the time you see the story to its close. At times, the story may take a far more depressing and sinister tone than the cute appearances of the characters would lead it to be. At times, the story can get quite gruesome that may make its player uncomfortable (fingernails being torn off, for example).
Once you get down to the combat, the primary source of gameplay outside of story cutscenes and ultimate choices, it’s easy to see that it’s taken inspiration as the followup to The Guided Fate Paradox. Many of the mechanics have been stripped back to their basics of the genre, removing much of the clutter and extra tasks needed to grow in power from the first game. For starters, Shin now has a constant character level that increases through normal combat and EXP that persists throughout the rest of the game. No more needing to start back at level 1 whenever he enters a new dungeon. The stats are boiled down to their most basic of components: health, attack, and defense. Three equipment slots mean you’ll only be needing to carry around a weapon, shield, and accessory (the first two can be upgraded by fusing other items that have +X stat modifiers to grow them up far beyond their basic powers.
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum’s combat returns once again to the grid-based roguelike stylings of its predecessor. Each movement, action, etcetera that Shin takes will progress time forward one tick, making every enemy move in tandem after he’s taken his turn. If you’re not careful, enemies have a tendency to gang up on Shin since he’s only just one man and can knock him out pretty swiftly, especially when he’s not in a transformation. In addition to a health meter that governs his vitality, Shin must also manage a calorie gauge that constantly drains as he explores a dungeon. Bringing it to zero will cause him to constantly lose HP rather than regain it, so it’s wise to save apples and other consumables for a quick stamina boost. If you’re out of proper items, you can always eat an unidentified plant or gem. Sometimes getting a quick bout of poison is worth it just for the 5 AC that can keep him going.
Unlocked from the onset, Kamikaze has access to both an angel and devil form transformation (using L2 and R2 respectively). Being in these forms have a number of important benefits. For starters, his starts are increased by being in a given form (which can be later increased with investing in the crystarium). Enemies you come across will have a similar matching alignment, so it’s important to keep Shin in his angel form if you’re constantly being surrounded by devils and vice versa. Lastly, Shin will unlock skills in the crystarium that can only be used when he’s in a proper form. To prevent the player from constantly being in a transformation form for too long, Shin’s SP constantly drains while in form or using skills. A common tactic of mine was to stay in human form while exploring around the dungeons, only turning it on a turn before approaching an enemy, just in case they had a ranged attack that I could use the additional defense for.
As Shin levels, he’ll gain crystarium points (or CP) to use in an expansive skill tree with wings that branch off towards an angel and a devil path. Investing CP in either side will boost Shin’s fighting potential when he is in either angel or devil forms in terms of stat percentage increases or new skills. What’s unlocked for one side, say devil form, won’t be usable or transmittable to the angel side, so you’ll need to make the tough decisions on which form to invest with as those CP are locked forever once committed. With each level, Shin will gain a generic CP that can be used for either side; however som story choices will also reward him with Angel CP or Devil CP that he can invest in a given side.
The simplification of Awakened Fate Ultimatum in terms of dungeon exploration felt like it made the experience more enjoyable. Instead of having to grind away on multiple item enhancements or a level increase that would go away upon returning to town, I felt like the game flowed a lot better. If you’re looking for a hardcore roguelike that’s going to punch you in the face with any action you take, you’re not going to find that here. Instead, look forward to The Awakened Fate Ultimatum if you’ve been turned away by the difficulty of previous games in the genre or just want to enjoy the story and the consequences of your actions.
[Editor’s Note: The Awakened Fate Ultimatum was reviewed on the Playstation 3. Download code was provided to use by the publisher for review purposes.]The Awakened Fate Ultimatum Review,