Review: The Awakened Fate Ultimatum (PS3)

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Title: The Awakened Fate Ultimatum
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (1.8 GB)
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is exclusive to PlayStation 3.
The PlayStation 3 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a story about a high school loner, Shin Kamikaze, who is spirited away to another world to become “God” and destroy the Devil army.

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Gameplay:
When you’re first introduced to Shin he has witnessed a sort of dream or vision of a young girl who speaks of fate and duty. When Shin wakes up he’s in his special hangout, the roof of his high school, where he goes to get away from people and be alone. Shin is then attacked by flying devil-like men and is stabbed in the chest. Just before passing out Shin sees a beautiful blonde woman swoop down and save him. Once he regains consciousness Shin is informed of his fate, that he has been implanted with the Fate Awakening Crystal and he is to become “God.”

In this game however, “God” is not really God but a term for an ultimate weapon that Angels use in the hopes of winning the ageless war against the Devils. Most of the time it seems that even though Shin is “God” he’s mostly subservient to the Angels.

The gameplay for The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is that of a typical roguelike JRPG in that you traverse randomized dungeons, pick up items whose identities are obscured without either finishing the dungeon or appraising the item, and have semi-permanent death where you lose all of the items you have gained in the dungeon.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the original game Rogue which was created around 1980, you guide an ASCII text-based character through dungeons, picking up items, and fighting monsters. Each dungeon is randomized so no two are alike and you must explore each room and corridor of the dungeon to reveal the whole layout as well as find the exit to reach the next floor.

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While many roguelike games emulate the gameplay of the original Rogue to varying degrees, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is pretty close in that it has a fairly sizable mini-map that’s displayed on the left-hand side of the screen. As you explore each new area of the dungeon your mini-map is updated with locations of traps, chests, items, enemies, and the exit. I really feel this mini-map is a nice touch and it really took me back to a time when I played the original Rogue.

One main twist on the Rogue gameplay is that you have both Angel and Devil powers that you must use against the various monsters throughout the dungeons. It’s explained in the storyline that the monsters that inhabit the dungeons view you as an immune system would view a bacterium. As you unlock the map of a dungeon the monsters will attack you on sight. Each type of monster will be either a Devil or Angel type so you must attack them with the opposite type of power. You can trigger your Angel transformation at any time by hitting the L2 trigger and likewise you can morph into your Devil form by hitting the R2 trigger.

… each dungeon has traps and items spread out all over the place …
Each dungeon in the game is a series of differently-sized square rooms all connected by thin corridors that are only wide enough for a single occupant to traverse. A grid is also placed on top of the entire dungeon so only one person or monster can occupy a space at any given time. You can share a space with an item, trap, or exit, but monsters can block your path and vice-versa. Since the corridors are only as wide as one tile, a great technique to use when getting mobbed by multiple enemies is to get into a corridor so you can fight them one at a time.

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One key aspect of this game that I haven’t seen since the original Rogue is that there’s an action log that spells out what item you picked up, how much damage was done to you or that you did to an enemy, what effect an item gave to you, etc. At any time throughout a dungeon you can go back to the action log and view the chain of events.

As mentioned before, each dungeon has traps and items spread out all over the place and it’s just so addictive to try to find new loot before going on to the next floor. You can see an item on the map and it will be represented by what type of item it is: sword, shield, potion, leaf, medical box, pill, ring, crystal, or gem. You won’t know what the exact item is until you pick it up and some items are unidentified until you’re able to appraise them. Once you clear the dungeon all items are apprised. You can also appraise items while you’re in a dungeon by using a special item that appraises all items in your pouch. You can also risk using un-appraised items to discover what they are but sometimes the items are poisonous or give you different maladies. If you die all the items that you’ve picked up, as well as any upgraded weapons, will be lost.

… the Action Counter constantly ticks down as you move …
As for the various stats, Shin has three main gauges when he’s in a dungeon: Health Points (HP), Skill Points (SP), and an Action Counter (AC). When you fight there is no way to block attacks. You can try to evade attacks but the combat of the game is turn-based so each step you take will be reciprocated by your enemy and you can only move one space each turn (unless you use a skill).

As far as skills go, you have a dial that’s manipulated by the Right Analog stick with sixteen different skills, eight for your Angel powers and eight for your Devil powers. When you morph into your Angelic form the skills on the skill dial are replaced with your Angel skills and vice-versa for your Devil form. The skills themselves vary between the two forms but they include things like throwing magic projectiles, dashing five spaces at a time to hit your enemy, trading places with a single enemy up to ten tiles away, and many more.

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One major thing to note is that walking in either your Angel or Devil form will consume a great amount of SP. I’ve already completed this game and I still continue to forget to toggle my Angel/Devil form off before I proceed. Forgetting to turn off your Angel or Devil form is a good way to exhaust your SP gauge so watch out!

The third and final gauge in the game, the Action Counter, constantly ticks down as you move. Each step you take will take off a certain number of AC points and once the points reach zero you will faint and fail the dungeon. AC points can be regenerated by eating fruit and other items.

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In addition to the gauges, you pick up EC (money), gain experience, and earn a single Crystal Point (CP) each time you level up. EC is spent on upgrading weapons and purchasing items in the Shop which is accessible at any time when you are not in a dungeon. The Shop’s inventory is replenished with seemingly random items after you successfully clear each dungeon. If you use an item to exit a dungeon before you’ve completed it, the shop does not get new items (at least, this is what I’ve observed).

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Shin can equip a weapon and a shield along with one accessory/ring. Weapons and shields can be upgraded by merging them with higher-grade weapons and shields respectively. There’s a relatively simple system that the game sets up to upgrade weapons/shields: each non-upgraded armament can only be used in combination with an upgraded armament which are signified by a plus sign and a number (i.e., +1, +22, etc.), but upgraded armaments can be used in any combination with each other.

The result of merging the two armaments will always be whatever the armament that was the base material of the pairing. For example, if you start with a club and merge it with a spear, you will always end up with the same club plus the sum of the two numbers associated with both items. This system is pretty nice in that if you spend lots of time and money merging the weapons but then find a really cool sword that you haven’t seen before, you can use the sword as the base to instantly upgrade it to the level of your upgraded weapon.

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Weapons and Shields can not only be upgraded, but they also have slots to place gems. There are dozens of different gems, all with different properties, that give your weapons and shields different abilities. For example, certain gems make your weapon more effective against certain enemies, while other gems will give your shield the ability to reflect a portion of the damage received. Gems can also be upgraded by fusing them with the same type of gem up to three levels. However, only two gems of the same level can be merged. So to get a gem to level three you will need two level two gems. This means you need a total of four gems to get a single level three gem.

In addition to the random dungeon gameplay there is also an element of choice where you are given key choices that affect the outcome of the game. Most are a choice between who you want to get closer to, Jupiel (the blonde girl who saved you) or Ariael (a devil who is on the side of the Angels and who was responsible for implanting you with the Fate Awakening Crystal). There are different points in the game where you must choose a course of action each of which is associated with the Angel or Devil response. In the very beginning of the game it seems like each time you choose the Angel response you get punished. So I suppose you cannot assume the Angel choice is always the right choice.

… there were no problems with slowdown …
There are many different details about this game that I cannot go into in this review, but overall, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a really great game. The story is fairly good. It isn’t too deep and isn’t particularly good but it held my attention and made me want to complete the game to see how it turned out. Sometimes however, the dialog would go on for just a little too long and seemed a little too excessive. You are able to skip the dialog if you wish but if you’re at all interested in the story be prepared to hit the cross button a lot just to progress.

Another annoyance of the game for me was that sometimes you don’t get a chance to save your game before you get a choice. There were at least two or three times where I finished a pretty good run of a dungeon and found some pretty cool loot then had a tough choice immediately afterwards. This situation puts you in the position of having to decide to repeat the dungeon, losing all your loot, or taking a chance at making a bad choice.

Visuals:
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is an anime-style JRPG where the dialog sections appear as 2D hand-drawn sprites that are slightly animated. The actual gameplay section of the game has smaller, Nendroid-looking 3D models with a three-quarter, top-down, isometric perspective.

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The actual dungeons and creatures aren’t overly detailed but look clean and pretty cutesy-looking. There isn’t a lot of fast-paced action going on so there were no problems with slowdown or anything to hamper the visual experience.

One small problem I have is with the color combinations on the mini-map. Your character is represented with a lime-green arrow and the corridors on the mini-map are colored in light blue so it gets kind of tough to tell where your character is on the map from time-to-time. Fortunately, I did find a small trick to mitigate the issue which is to hold down the Square button to highlight the grid. This also highlights your character’s attack range. The attack range highlight appears in bright red on the mini-map and this helps you locate your character right away.

Audio:
The game comes with both English and Japanese voice tracks and the soundtrack is generally good. The music that plays throughout the game is symphonic, and while good, can become pretty repetitive as you play the same dungeons over again to get loot or grind for experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is a single-player only.

Conclusion:
Overall, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is a great game and well worth the asking price. While I couldn’t get an exact play time, I would estimate that it took me about forty to fifty hours to complete. The game has multiple endings, additional quests after the main story, and several New Game+ modes so it’s got quite a bit of content to keep you going.

If you generally like JRPGs and want to enjoy some turn-based gameplay with some action added to it, this game could also be a good go-between. If you like roguelikes, dungeon-crawling, and finding loot, this is definitely the game for you.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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  • Makai Ookami

    Not sure I can justify myself buying it. What if I want to remote play it?

    PS3 can’t… Wish they would release JRPGs on both PS4 and PS3 simultaneously.

    • Jason Honaker

      Well, I guess one consolation is that NIS announced that all of their upcoming titles will be PS4 only (unless they’ve already been announced for PS3).

      Oh yeah, I’m still playing this game LOL it’s pretty addictive.