Secondly, it’s because Fate has a very real – albeit slightly ‘kiddiefied’ – charm about it. Graphically, it leans more towards Warcraft III’s bright cartoon stylings than Diablo’s stygian gloom, with some hints of Zelda, World of Warcraft and Fable thrown in. Unlike most Diablo clones, the engine is fully 3D, and while there’s not an incredible visual wow factor about Fate’s rustic town and twisting tunnels, it certainly doesn’t look second-rate. This look isn’t just a nice change, it also means Fate is one of a few RPGs that have an appeal across the age ranges. It’s not so twee that over-twelves will hate it, but it’s not too bloodthirsty for kids or squeamish adults.
However, I think Fate mostly works because it’s been designed from the ground up to appeal to the casual gamer. Now, I certainly don’t consider myself a casual gamer, and you probably don’t either. And the sort of goon who wanders into Woolworths and buys Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith isn’t going to like Fate any more than they would Baldur’s Gate. All the same, the drive to simplify the game’s mechanics and keep the action flowing has made Fate a more accessible and entertaining RPG for everyone.
The pet is only the start, and it certainly makes inventory management and item trading a lot easier, not to mention dungeon crawling a less lonely experience. And if a small pug or puss seems less than fearsome, you can always transform them into something that should have the goblins quaking in their little green boots. In Fate, fresh fish are the key to your pet’s potential, and they can be caught at fishing holes or rivers in the town or in the dungeon. Feeding your pet different fish will turn him into different menacing creatures, and if you’re lucky enough to find a flawless example, the transformation will fix until you feed them another fish to cancel.
Admittedly, none of Fate’s ideas are exactly new – we’ve all seen ‘back to town’ portal spells before, mini-maps have a long and illustrious history, and Fate isn’t the first game with simplified skills, character levelling or magic systems – but it all combines to get you into and out of action without a pause. Even death is handled with aplomb. Fall in combat and Fate itself intervenes, offering you a choice between returning where you are at a cost to your renown and experience, returning on a nearby dungeon level for a small gold price, or resurrecting you three levels upwards, but with your precious gold at risk. This means dying has its drawbacks, but you’re never left hanging for long. It’s all a pretty seamless experience.