Videogames, how thee mock my life, allowing me to take on roles I’d normally never be able to in real life. Such is the case with The Guided Fate: Paradox, in which you take the role of God.
The game opens with you meeting a girl (who turns out to be an angel), and receiving a lottery ticket. Despite all your terrible luck, you manage to win a huge raffle and take the first prize. As a congratulatory gesture, the girl/angel then pulls out a club… and hits you on the head.
When you finally come to, you are in a strange land known as Celestia surrounded by angels and demons, all dressed like maids and butlers. Superb.
Now, as God, it’s your job to answer the prayers of all living creatures, which even goes as far as including fairy tale characters, using something called the Fate Revolution Circuit. This, in turn, guides their fates to happiness, where all is well and good.
The story, whilst not as wacky as NIS’s Disgaea series, is exactly what you’d come to expect from a NIS title. It borrows heavily from anime and prepubescent humor in spades, whilst somehow actually keeping a reasonably cohesive narrative. The game’s dubbing also stays close to NIS standards, i.e., horrible, but the game does include the original Japanese voices, and the music, provided by Japanese Gothic rock band Yosei Teikoku, is really fantastic.
Moving away from the strategy-RPG set-up that NIS’ own Disgaea follows, The Guided Fate: Paradox comes on strong with the brutality of a dungeon crawling rogue-like, breaking battles down into a chess-like structure, meaning every action/turn you perform, the opposition gets the chance to counter you. At first, this is unbearably difficult, as I constantly made mistakes, even from something as simple as turning the camera; which led to me moving in the wrong direction.
Helping matters though, are the angels you can take into battle with you through the course of the game (all offering their own skills and abilities) to aid you in answering the prayers you must answer. When entering a dungeon, you always start at Level 1, no matter what. But, before you get put off, where The Guided Fate differs from other Rogue-likes, is that each level gained actually goes towards an ‘overall’ level, meaning you go into each dungeon slightly stronger, even after death. It is both rewarding and massively frustrating — but it works and you rarely feel like you’re being punished for ‘dying.’ As with most dungeon crawlers, moving through each floor and killing enemies builds your levels as well as the strength of your gear. Dungeons typically consist of 10 floors, with enemies obviously becoming stronger as you progress, and the final floor culminating in a boss battle without the aid of your angels, but, if you fail, along with being reverted back to level one and having to push through a dungeon again, all items you are carrying are lost for good. No matter what. Which sucks.
Then there’s the Divinigram.
The Divinigram on paper sounds horrendously complicated; the Divingram is a large grid board that allows your core stats (speed, attack, hit, defense) to be improved, along with your total level, there are Holy Icons and Holy Artifacts which can be placed to add perks to weapons/armor or just to increase the amount of items you can carry. Sounds bizarre, but it is surprisingly easy to execute, but more importantly, it becomes essential, as the use of the Divinigram’s modifications make up for a bulk of your characters progress when entering a new dungeon. The system, as bizarre and complicated as it may seem, does work, but a more streamlined approach would have been less daunting.
Visually, The Guided Fate: Paradox does house some colorful and charming character designs, although the dungeons enemies don’t vary too much, other than size. All gear is equipable, however, and everything you equip is shown on the bodies of you and your angels.
And I mean everything.
Mech legs, fish heads, jets etc, they’re all there, they’re all ridiculous, and they all look awesome.
The Guided Fate Paradox is not for everyone. The story is, at its best, pretty poor; the game can move at a horribly slow pace; the graphics, whilst charming in their own right, really aren’t anything to shout about; and when it’s frustrating — it’s VERY frustrating.
But, there is still a lot to be loved. It is a true game where if you succeed, you’ve succeeded because you’ve learned your past mistakes, and most of all, because you deserved it.
The Guided Fate Paradox is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes.Powered by Sidelines