Review: The Guided Fate Paradox

Romans 12:9- Then God Vanquished a Demon on Floor 6, Clearing the Dungeon

The Guided Fate Paradox is a weird game. As God (that’s you) it is your holy duty as the Almighty to grant the prayers of your faithful… by clearing randomly generated dungeons of monsters. Not the oddest premise for a dungeon crawler, but The Guided Fate Paradox is still pretty out there. The game is loaded to the brim with anime cliches from your maid outfits to your limp-wristed male lead. That’s not necessarily a negative, but for anyone not looking for that kind of thing it can come off as rather abrasive in dishing out the anime tropes. The gameplay can be addictive, and it offers extensive freedom in character customization. On the other hand the game can feel rather grindy and repetitive at times.

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The Guided Fate Paradox
Console: PS3 (reviewed)

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
Released: 11-5-2013 (US), 10-25-2013 (UK)
MSRP: $49.99

Our protagonist, Renya, due to his unfortunate luck, won the divine lottery and has been made God. A cast of angels are at Renya’s command, and he must intervene on behalf of his mortal subjects. The religious set up is just window dressing for the game world, and for the aesthetic of having angels and devils fight one another.

The game’s dungeons are each based around the an individual who’s unhappy with their life. The first is Cinderella who is unhappy with the subtext of her story, and how she hates being trapped in the narrative of her fable. This is followed up by the story of the world’s worst zombie who’s too afraid of humans to eat their brains. Following this pattern each dungeon reflects the world of the person God is there to help. Cinderella’s world is all fantastical, styled after castles and ballrooms. While the pathetic zombie  is all ghouls, ghosts, and tombstones. It’s a rather refreshing take on the traditional dungeon crawler, at least from the typical dank dark cave. Sometimes it’s nice to have a splash of color.

The anime tropes are laid on thick and heavy, as mentioned above. Renya the protagonist is a typical anime hero, lacking self confidence, trouble talking to women, and tries to please everyone. The story can be rather pervy at times, with most his angels being young girls in maid outfits who each fill out some kind of fetishistic niche, be it Lolita, tomboy, or buxom bombshell. I’ll let the game’s dialogue speak for itself, here’s a little quip from Renya: “Those tits are Old Testament huge.” That should be a good barometer if this game is for you. It’s obvious pandering, and it just comes off as lame. The humor can be endearing at moments in its own quirky way, but when it falls flat, it falls hard.

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The Guided Fate Paradox switches between two art styles. One is the made up of still images and backgrounds accompanies by voiced text boxes. This is reserved for most cutscenes and any story heavy sections. The art in these sections is okay if rather uninspired, but it gets the job done. The second presentation style is that of a top down isometric strategy game. Everything still retains the anime aesthetic and both work for what they are: one is to service narrative, the other gameplay, each is functional, but neither really sticks out.

The UI can feel like a cluttered mess at times, and the massive info dumps explaining all the mechanics are too similar to attending a timeshare seminar for my tastes. Thankfully all the tutorials can be accessed from the menu should you ever skip something or forget how a certain mechanic works. This is helpful if you take long breaks between game sessions.

“The Guided Fate Paradox shows little respect for the player’s time.”

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The game plays from an isometric point of view, and uses a turn-based system. A turn can either be spent moving or attacking. Enemies will drop items as you defeat them, and those items can be leveled up with use. Once enough experience has been gained on a given item, it can be taken to the blacksmith to improve the items stats, and the process can begin again. All items come with their own special moves, from unique attacks or buffs that improve as the items are leveled up.

As you progress through the dungeon you’ll need to keep track of a hunger meter that declines the more you move around and fight. More intensive actions drain the hunger meter faster, and it can lead to a quick death if left unattended. Consuming food items will fill the meter back up again, but depending on enemies to drop food is never a guarantee, so it’s good to bring your own by stocking up at the shop before entering a new dungeon.

Dying in a dungeon means all your items are lost. To get them again, you’ll have to play through old dungeons to re-equip yourself. This can be grueling if not frustrating, the game is not necessarily difficult, but being forced to grind as punishment for failure is tedious. The turn-based combat is quick and fun, but The Guided Fate Paradox shows little respect for the player’s time. Your level and stat upgrades are still retained between each death, and items can be stored away in a safe for later use, so collecting backups of favorite items is recommended. Still grinding to replace lost items feels like a real chore. After a while you don’t even level up your character’s stats while doing this, it just turns into a time waster.

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Score: 5/10 – Review Scale

If you’re interested in The Guided Fate Paradox, you probably already were before this review. If you’re still on the fence, just pass. $50 for a middle of the road SRPG. The gameplay is very solid, and can be challenging. The only real downside being the loss of all items upon death, but other than that The Guided Fate Paradox plays really well. The story on the other hand is very take it or leave it. The crude pandering dialogue will be too much for some, and the price doesn’t help that fact. A better deal would be to go get the new Fire Emblem, or any of the older Final Fantasy Tactics games. They all have more interesting combat systems, better stories, and are cheaper. The Guided Fate Paradox is by no means a bad game, but for $50 brand new, better can be had for less.

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About Charlie Elmer

His journey began when he received his older sister's hammy down SNES. Now he's here, how he arrived is unclear, but that's not important. He now tests his mettle here as an aspiring wordsmith.