Archive for April 23rd, 2009

Fate and Foofery

Thanks to Ysharros for “foofery”, which I’m using here as a generic term roughly equivalent to “puttering around doing frivolous stuff”.  I’m home sick today, coughing and sniffling way more than I want to.  I’m better than yesterday, though, when I also stayed home from work.  Bleh.  I complain about the game industry on occasion, but I do miss my job.  It stinks to be stuck at home like an invalid.  I’m going to bust open our DVD player later to see if I can figure out why it’s not working, just so I can do something productive.

That said, I’ve taken the time to catch up on some game demos that I’ve wanted to tinker with for a while now.  It’s sort of productive, since I look at them as research projects, but at the same time… I just want to create sometimes.  I take that as a sign I’m healing, since when I’m really sick, I just want to vegetate.

Anyway, as the headline suggests, the core of my latest game demo binge is the little gem Fate by WildTangent.

I like it.  A lot.  It’s the only one of the bunch that I’ve seriously considered buying.

At its heart, it’s a Diablo clone.  If you enjoyed those games, you would probably have fun with Fate.  Yes, it’s endless monster loot pinata popping, but sometimes, that’s OK.  I do complain about wanting more from my MMOs, but even so, it really is OK to have that sort of mindless Zen gaming as one of several options.

Fate shines in the little things; the non-M-rated setting, the pet that is not only a good combat companion but also a fantastic little loot ferry (you can send it to town to sell off vendor trash), the “build your own character” approach (no classes; you just build as you go… but I didn’t see a respec option, which would have been really nice), fishing (a nice sedate activity amidst all the critter bashing, and the source of some interesting loot… my most valuable treasure, a huge hammer, came from a fish gullet), Fame (another metric of success, and a gate to higher level loot) and generational mechanics (you can pass loot on to descendants once you hit the end game… only one piece of treasure, but it gets a permanent 25% boost to stats).  The core game isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s a fun little dungeon crawler, and in my experience, more enjoyable than Diablo.  (I’ve not tried D2.)

It’s not all butterflies and roses, though, since it does come with a SecuROM footprint, which I’m going to have to keep an eye on.  Also, the “trial” mechanism is interesting; you get “tokens” to spend in WildTangent’s odd little Steam-like front end.  Each play session costs a token, and you only have so many before you have to upgrade.  In and of itself, it’s nothing terrible, but it’s another layer of cruft on top of what really should be a simple demo, and I can do without the silly interface (purple coin tokens?  Huh?) and ads for other games, as well as another little resource hogging program.  (That’s one danger of everyone going with digital distribution; all of those stupid little system tray TSR programs that try to upgrade behind your back and sell you stuff, all the while sucking up your PC performance.)

Ultimately, though, I got sucked into Fate, finding it eating away my hours until I noticed it was almost 3 AM, and I had barely noticed the last three hours.  Yes, that’s partially a function of my diminished mental capacity due to illness, and no, it’s not the best game in the world, but for a game that you can get for $10 and play for a long time, it’s good stuff.

Oh, right… there were other games too. (more…)


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