The Guided Fate Paradox

So a couple of weeks ago I was browsing random websites online and I found a list of 100 forgotten games from the past year.  I don’t remember what the title of the list was, or the website, or for that matter what kind of random posts I had been clicking through to find it.  Anyway, while browsing through their list, I saw quite a few games that didn’t interest me at all, a couple that I took the time to read about, and one that had me very intrigued.GFP1

That game – which I’m sure you could have guessed from the title of this post – is called The Guided Fate Paradox.  And while it is the type of game that never had a chance to be a blockbuster mega-hit in todays video game culture, I think it’s the type of game that has an excellent chance of being a sleeper hit that a core group of fans will still be talking about and playing 10 years from now.

The premise of the game can be summed up very quickly, and this is what got me interested in the game in the first place.  A young man named Renya is given a lottery ticket at a local mall after buying food for dinner.  He spins the lottery machine at the mall and wins the grand prize – he gets to become God and guide the fates of the believers who pray to him every day.

Now that is a premise that is going to get me interested in a game, but while that’s an interesting start to a game, it’s going to take a quality game to be as interesting as the summary I gave promises, and this game delivers.

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Renya and Lilliel

Once Renya goes to heaven he meets a small cast of angels who are his companions for the rest of the game.  I love stories that turn your expectations on their heads and this game does that perfectly.  When you hear the word angel, you have a certain image that pops up in your head.  And while the angels that help you out fit the visual image, their personalities are very different from what you would expect.  In this world, angels and devils have been fighting a war that has been going on far longer than any of them could have ever imagined, and it shows in their personalities.  In many ways, this group of angels is tired of fighting the war, and very cynical about it.  Likewise, when you’re shown scenes involving the devils and their leader – named Satanael – you see that they’re in some ways just going through the motions.  Satanael especially is going through the motions, and in many of the scenes he appears in he is simply trying to find something to do to kill some time because he’s utterly bored with his existence.  While the game has you granting a series of wishes for people, there is a deep and interesting story going on that is constantly leading you in interesting new directions.  I can easily say that the overall story of this game is easily one of the best that I’ve seen in a video game in some years and one of the more interesting stories that I’ve seen in any medium for some time.

Several of the angels who assist you in the game.

Several of the angels who assist you in the game.

While the overall story is interesting, the smaller stories that unfold as you help the believers with their wishes are also some of the more interesting stories that I’ve seen in some time.  From the very first story where you meet a Cinderella who is tired of living out the same fairy tale all the time, you know you’re in for something different.  As the game continues you also meet and help a weakling zombie who wants to be able to eat brains, a mermaid who wants to stop her older sister from killing humans, and several other unique and interesting characters.  All of the characters have solid voice acting (although the voice of the weakling zombie did get annoying after a while) the character designs are all very well done.

The gameplay was really interesting to me, with your character going through a series of randomly generated dungeons with your angel assistant as you acquire new items and level up your character.  However, every time that you leave a dungeon, you reset to level one.  But the game keeps track of your total levels gained and uses this to increase your overall stats.  So you start out as a more powerful level one every time you go into the dungeon, and you also have more powerful equipment every time you go through.  The closest game I know of in terms of the actual gameplay is an old Playstation 1 game titled Azure Dreams.  If you’re a fan of that game I think you’ll love this game as much as I did.

One thing that helped this game greatly was the variety in the dungeons.  The first two just have you going from one room to the next along pathways in the dungeon.  The third one takes place underwater and you can roam anywhere on the map, but there are certain rooms that appear throughout each floor.  Other dungeons have 5×5 tiles that move around as you’re exploring each floor, meaning you can go from being 2 squares away from the item you wanted to pick up to it being halfway across the map.  The variety from one dungeon to the next helped the gameplay to feel fresh throughout the entire game, even though you’re essentially doing the same thing for the entirety of the game.

GFP3Graphically the game is decidedly old-school, with the characters being sprites rather than the fully rendered models that you see in so many games today.  While some people may not enjoy graphics like this, I think they’re in many ways better than other games.  Far too often I think game developers try to make a game look perfectly realistic as the expense of making it look good.  This game definitely has a unique visual style, and I thought it was fantastic throughout the course of the entire game.

This game is a perfect mixture of an interesting premise, an excellent story, solid gameplay, and incredible replayability.  If you’re a fan of old school Japanese RPG’s or good storytelling in general, I highly suggest this game.  As it is, I’m off to go through some of the bonus content and see if I can’t find more fun items to use.

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