After Z.H.P. for the PSP, NIS decided to create a spiritual successor exclusively for the PlayStation 3. While some of its elements were altered, the core experience was as rock solid as ever. However the same cannot be said for The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, which ends up being a shell of its former self, removing almost everything made its predecessors memorable.
You play as the typical outcast high school student, Shin Kamikaze. After being killed by a group of demons, he is resurrected with the power of the Fate Awakening Crystal. He is told that he is now the God of this Celestia and it is his goal to kill devils. He is soon pulled into the war between angels and demons. Helping you adapt is your personal angel, Jupiel Soraumi, and Ariael Agarie, a demon scientist and instant noodle junky.
There is a huge emphasis on the story, which is told through a visual novel. There is almost as many cutscenes as there is gameplay which gives the game an anime-like feel.
As a God you will have the opportunity to makes choices which will influence the outcome of the game. Almost every choice is difficult. Saving someone may seem as the best option however soon after you may see that it resulted in even more deaths. These choices also influence the gameplay as they give you points you can use for upgrades.
At its core The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a rougelike dungeon crawler. Gameplay is turned based, meaning that after each step or attack, all the enemies on the map make a move. Despite how it sounds, it plays out really fluidly almost feeling like it’s in real-time. Most dungeons consist of 10 randomly generated floors. If you die at any point you return to Celestia but lose all the items you had on you.
Like always your character will slowly grow hungry. Once his hunger meter is fully depleted you start losing 1 HP every turn. Still it’s nowhere near as punishing as in the previous titles, since now 1 apple can easily help you get through the entire dungeon.
New to the series is the Holy and Vile system. Each enemy you come across will either be in an angel or devil form. At any moment you can deitize, power up to either of the two forms. Being in angel form deals more damage and has batter defense against demon enemies and vice versa for the devil form. Each turn you are in one of these forms depletes your SP bar. Special attacks are exclusive to these two forms. Still, this system feels a bit shallow. There is no penalty for switching between these forms, which makes things way too straightforward. See a demon enemy, switch to the angel from, see an angel enemy switch to the demon from.
Almost everything that made The Guided Fate Paradox so engaging is gone. There is no explorable hub. There are no item repairs, which means you have no incentive to swap your weapons mid-battle. Upgrading has been extremely simplified. There are no boots or helmets or left handed weapons so don’t expect to look like a walking tank with a horse head by the end of the game. You no longer boost base stats and level up per dungeon. The huge amount of weapon skills are gone. Allies no longer accompany you to dungeons. Enemies don’t have a sight range. You can no longer lift items in dungeons. Dungeons don’t have different elevation. You can’t increase your inventory space. You will have little use for money, since there is nothing to really spend it on.
The wacky implant system is gone and instead of that we got an extremely simplified version of Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid. You can traverse down two wings, one which boosts the devil form while the other boosts the angel. Considering that each point of the grid gives you a specific 1 to 3% stat boost for that form, you won’t feel any stronger until you are already nearing the end.
Remember how each chapter felt unique, with its own special mechanic in the dungeons, such as cannons that transport you further, or exploring the ocean depth riding a rocket, or raising the sea level in a post-apocalyptic world? Well this game has nothing of the sort. All the stages have a single goal and that is to find the gate to the next floor. There is nothing distinct about any of them. After you played through the first dungeon you can expect the same thing until the end of the game.
Boss battles are terrible. There are only a handful of bosses in the 15 chapters the game offers and even then they are disappointing. Almost all of them have you and the boss trading blows in an empty arena until one of you two end up dying.
Whereas The Guided Fate Paradox had beautiful 2D sprites, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum opts for 3D cel shaded chibi’s. While things don’t look bad, the variety is once again an issue. The lack of equipment means you can no longer fully change the looks of your character with his equipment. There is a limited amount of enemy types, a lot of which are just recolored. All levels look very similar. Even though it was possible when the game was in 2D, rotating the camera is now impossible.
Despite being the sequel to The Guided Fate Paradox, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum has very little in common. Almost every aspect of its predecessor has been streamlined, ultimately being a generic mediocre dungeon crawler with little to offer. So while fans of The Guided Fate Paradox and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman will definitely be put off, new players might be able to find some enjoyment from the story and simple gameplay The Awakened Fate Ultimatum offers.