Renya Kagurazaka is a shy high school student who is down on his luck. While buying ingredients for dinner, he acquires a lottery ticket to a kiosk in the mall. Renya has reservations about the lottery since he’s never won anything, but his curiosity gets the best of him. Lilliel Saotome, the young girl who operates the lottery kiosk, convinces Renya to spend his ticket for a chance at spinning the Wheel of Destiny, and surprisingly he ‘wins’.
The grand prize, to the hapless hero’s dismay, is assuming the role of God and ruling over a place called Celestia. Before our protagonist can escape from his new responsibilities, Lilliel hits him over the head with a nail-studded baseball bat.
The Guided Fate Paradox for Playstation 3 isn’t your typical JRPG. Instead of being turn-based like most NIS America releases, it uses rogue-like game mechanics that play differently than most console gamers may be used to. In a turn-based environment, the player can perform multiple actions before ending a turn. In a rogue-style game, every action counts as a move regardless of what it is. For example – drinking a health potion or equipping an item during combat will count as a move, allowing your enemy to strike the moment the action is completed. This style of gameplay not only has its challenges, but it also requires the player to adopt a different strategy when approaching combat scenarios.
As God, it’s your duty to answer prayers using the Fate Revolution Circuit – a machine that makes partial duplicates of reality called Copy World. This environment doesn’t produce carbon copies of the real world (any inhabitants you encounter appear as silhouettes, sans enemies), but any changes that occur within this world will directly affect reality.
Before Renya can perform any miracles as God and change the course of peoples’ lives, he must endure a series of tests (which are basically small tutorials) under the tutelage of Lilliel – the lottery kiosk girl who turns out to be his personal angel assistant. The tutorials explain the basics of combat and using the environments to your advantage, like picking up objects to clear a doorway or throwing them as projectiles during combat.
As mentioned earlier, the gameplay mechanics are based on the rogue genre. As you explore Copy World, every step you take registers as a ‘turn’. When this occurs, any creatures present in the dungeon will move the moment you take a step. Standing still will render any creatures in the level motionless.
The dungeons in Copy World have a reduced ‘field of vision’ that make it difficult to see creatures and items. A mapping system, which is located in the top-right corner of the screen, keeps track of your position and any creatures that are present. Additionally, any exit portals that lead to new floors will also appear on the map when found.
Paradox’s combat system functions differently than your tradition JRPG. Creatures are surrounded by an abbreviation field that works as their ‘line of sight’. As long as this ‘field’ stays white, Renya and his party will not be seen. But if you happen to approach this field – or if the creatures are too close -then the field will turn red and the creatures will attack. When combat occurs, Renya can retaliate by using melee attacks (which are executed by pressing X button) or by using Divine Skills, which are governed by the armor and weapons currently equipped.
Dual-wielding a pair of handguns, for instance, will unlock Divine Skills such as Gun Fu and Spiral Bullet, while wearing MK2 tank armor will allow Renya to crush his opponents by using the ‘Tank Drop’ skill, among others. If a creature is weak to your weapon’s ‘Divine Skill’, the damage inflicted will be ‘yellow’.
Your angel companions can be of great assistance during combat. By pressing the Triangle button and bringing up the main menu, you can select ‘Talk’ to ask for angelic assistance. Typically, an angel assistant can heal Renya up to five times while inside a dungeon. Additionally, you can issue commands to these angels via the ‘Order’ menu. This system is vital to your survival since you can command an angel to ‘Cover You’ during combat or have them explore the dungeon independently and “Fight as you see fit”. Moreover, you can equip your angel party members with equipment and weapons found inside the dungeons.
When you have killed enough creatures, you can activate a powerful ability called Divination. A form of ‘God’ mode, Divination uses a gauge that fills over time. When this skill is activated, Renya transforms into a radiant being with almost limitless power. Unfortunately, the power gauge for this skill drains quickly and can’t be used for long. It’s better to save this ability for when you really need it.
The controls can take some getting used to. Instead of allowing standard 8-way movement, Paradox restricts the player to basic 4-way controls. This concept works relatively well until you rotate the in-game camera with L1 and R1 to see around corners or behind objects. Depending on where the camera is positioned, the directional pad controls invert to compensate for the camera angle. However, after a couple of hours of gameplay, the controls become second nature.
Graphically, Paradox is a feast for the eyes with its beautiful isometric 2D characters and flashy special attacks. Renya’s Divine skills are depicted by flashy, colorful animations as he hacks, slashes and explodes his enemies into oblivion. Even the cinemas manage to impress as they contain high-quality, Manga-style illustrations accompanied by some of the best voice acting ever heard in a JRPG. To say that Paradox’s overall presentation is superb would be an understatement.
With quirky controls aside, The Guided Fate Paradox by NIS America is a brilliant JRPG that doesn’t always take itself seriously. With countless hours of gameplay, incredible character development, and a story that raises more than a few smiles, NIS America’s latest offering is one game that Playstation 3 gamers can’t do without. Besides, how often do games give you the opportunity to be God?
Platform: Playstation 3 (Also Available on PSN)
Developer: NIS America
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Gorgeous isometric 2D backgrounds and sprites.|
|Some of the best voice acting in a JRPG.|
|The rogue-style gameplay is a refreshing change of pace from traditional turn-based RPGs.|
|The Guided Fate Paradox isn't your typical JRPG. Its rogue-style gameplay and in-depth character development sets it apart from other games in the genre.|