The Guided Fate Paradox
Japanese RPGs have always had a close relationship with anime, manga and other aspects of Japanese pop culture. Many RPGs have an obvious anime influence in their art direction (such as Final Fantasy VII) and others share an anime-influenced plot(such as Disgaea). Quite often, a good JRPG can even spawn an anime, manga, or both.
‘The Guided Fate Paradox’ from Nippon Ichi Software is a JRPG with very anime-like story elements. While the game play is adequate, it feels as though it has taken a backseat to the story, which while both hilarious and compelling, leaves the Guided Fate Paradox feeling a little underwhelming, and a tad confusing at times. That isn’t to say it is a bad game – far from it, the Guided Fate Paradox is a unique game that offers a very non-traditional experience for anime fans and seasoned JRPG fans alike.
The Guided Fate Paradox tells the story of Renya, a young boy who informs the gamer (yes, this game breaks the fourth wall, and breaks it a lot) that while he isn’t a loser, he has never won anything. Not even a scratch lottery card. His luck changes drastically however, when he is given a lottery card by a beautiful (but strange) girl in his local shopping mall. Renya wins the lottery, and as you may have guessed, the prize is no ordinary prize. Renya is to become God.
Quite a strange premise for an RPG, but certainly one that is entertaining. Renya and the other characters in the game may seem strange at first, but they may seem more familiar to an anime fan, as they fall into certain tropes of popular anime. Renya, is a lovable loser, and Lilliel Saotome (the girl from the mall who also happens to be an angel) is a “genki girl” ( higly energetic and excitable ditz). Other characters fall into other anime stereotypes, such as the well-endowed and highly-sexual older woman, the friendly tomboy, and the extremely cute but incredibly dangerous small child.
As Renya discovers with his new responsibility, God himself must listen to the millions of prayers and prioritise which people in the world (and other worlds) to help before others. Lilliel guides him to the “Fate Revolution Circuit”, a machine which gathers the prayers and hopes of all of God’s followers into a machine, which Renya must then enter to help them. Once inside, Renya will encounter all manner of monster and beast, which are the manifestations of all his followers’ doubts (as well as other things which prevent their hopes and dreams coming true).
This is where the story gets very nutty, and can leave a few people scratching their heads. Inside the machine, all manner of people need help. Renya is not only our god, but also the god of other life forms (such as aliens) and even fictional characters. Yes, even Cinderella needs help. Lilliel explains that the love of this fictional works is what gives them life, but even within the context of this game, that is hard to swallow. Surely God would just prioritise “real” people, and not characters in a book.
As far as the delivery of the story, The Guided Fate Paradox is near perfect. It can be a tad dialogue-heavy at times (especially at the very beginning of the game), but for the most part it is clever, and leaves you wanting to play the game through and discover what happens next, as well as discover the secrets and stories of the game’s characters.
The gameplay in TGFP is sure to divide gamers. When in dungeons (which are not in fact, dungeons but function the same), the game is presented from an isometric perspective, with the player defeating the various monsters which populate the Fate Revolution Circuit. Similar to Diablo and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, the dungeons in The Guided Fate Paradox are dimly-lit labyrinths, though extremely simple in their design. While you won’t get lost in these levels (as they are essentially giant loops), you will get frustrated as you bump into walls over and over.
According to the game, the Fate Revolution Circuit only creates levels with the bare minimum of each prayer, which leaves a lot of dark space in between these facts. That’s all well and good, but there is no point to not seeing an enemy until its on top of you, as it doesn’t change combat at all. There’s also no point to stalling the player’s progress, as there is no time limit to reward or penalise the player (depending on the time it takes them to complete a level).
When in combat, the player simply presses one button over and over until the enemy dies. Whilst many games also follow this formula, the animation is extremely simple in TGFP, and when combined with the lack of combos from repeated button presses, you will either praise the game for its quick and simple gameplay, or feel like a blind kid running around in the dark whilst frantically stabbing at bats.
- Quick and simple gameplay
- Funny and well-written anime-like story
- Cheap-looking animation
- Truly bizarre story moments.
Scoring and reviewing The Guided Fate Paradox was no easy matter, as the game contains elements that certain people will love more than any other game this year, so long as they are one of those people. TGFP might not appeal to everyone, but anime fans, JRPG fans and gamers looking for a unique experience may find it’s just the game to fill a void they possess.
Score – 7/10