Do you recall that franchise of Hollywood films called Final Destination where a group of teenagers cheat death, only for it to catch up with them later in the most horrific set-pieces? Well, Half Past Fate is the same as that, but there’s no death, only love. Ok, so it’s not entirely romantic, but that’s the objective: finding love over time, little realising that each character is linked to one another in some way, making way for lots of cameos and cross-referencing in each of the chapters in the game.
In Half Past Fate, you take control of a group of happy-go-lucky people whose fate appears to be intertwined with one another, with each seeking love, little realising that it’s just around the corner, some point in time. Everyone gets their fair share of airtime, and you’re bound to have your favourites. I sided more towards the story of Ana and Jaren; a tea expert and gamer, respectively. Why I had a biased towards them, I don’t know. The path of Rinden and Mara felt a little more like filler as they didn’t have the same connection as the others. Exchanges between the love birds aren’t too cliche, but they’re natural enough for you to be rooting for them, albeit, the more modern tale between the executives seemed a little forced in places.
The game is split over 12 chapters where you take control of one of the many characters, solving a straightforward problem. Whether it’s finding a way to jump the queue to chat up the barista there or get some scruffy teens away from a statue where you want to take a photograph, the issues are first-world problems that are relatively easy to fix – the focus here being the story and dialogue. Conversations are inoffensive and engaging enough to keep you involved, but it does lack humour, which would have been a welcome addition as it can get a little flat at times and somewhat repetitive.
For such a simple concept, Half Past Fate does ooze charm and is a sweet tale which doesn’t necessarily have you reaching for the sick bucket, albeit, there will be eyebrow raises from the oh-so-frequent corniness. This isn’t a game for cynics, or those who don’t have the patience for reading through a barrage of text responses as Half Past Fate is one of those games that are dialogue intense, but forget about the themes being anything to work up a sweat about.
Instead, characters talk about the joys of drinking tea, photography and tech startups. No, this isn’t a hipster game (it’s already self-aware, taking a dig at the culture saying how rude they are in the first chapter). Despite the subjects, the conversations never feel dull or pretentious. At the same time, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat feeling inclined to venture forth into the world of tea, etc.… but the odd occasion had me wanting some matcha. Product placement could have worked great here, just saying. It did lack humour (did I mention that?), and that would have given it the edge as sometimes it did need a break from the cheese, even if it was a pleasant experience.
While there is a focus on three couples, each getting their own four separate chapters, Half Past Fate never felt confusing where I had to try backtrack to this time and the next, figuring out who said what to who. That said, throughout the chapters, there are lots of cross-references to one another’s worlds as they all occupy the same space in some respects. The subtitles of each chapter saying 12 hours ago, 8 years ago, et al initially felt like this was going to be hard to keep up and the equivalent of a Tarantino narrative, but really, it’s easy to follow and enjoyable to play. In some respects, it’s a simple storytelling mechanism and it does work well in this scenario.
Controlling your characters is as easy as the problems you have to solve and doesn’t require any complicated tutorials or in-game menus. You control each character with the left stick or d-pad, ‘inspect’ people and items with X and interact with A. There’s an inventory that’s accessible with the Y button, but you seldom carry many objects, and it’s nothing like a typical point and click where you have to combine objects that go together like cheese and ham. Well, that works, so ignore that comparison. What I’m saying is Half Past Fate is a walk in the park when it comes to movement, problem-solving and interacting.
The visuals are pretty beautiful and match the mood perfectly. Colours are vibrant, the on-screen characters you control have their charm until the dialogue sequences pop up with some hand-drawn versions of the characters with a tad more detail. The camera angle is quite an interesting one as it’s a pseudo isometric point of view where characters feel both 2D and 3d, blending with the backgrounds and in-game objects quite effortlessly. Throughout each chapter is its own musical theme. The score repeats endlessly, but perhaps somewhat surprising was that it never got annoying and complemented the story perfectly. That said, I wouldn’t listen to the soundtrack outside of the game, but it was a nice touch and added to the upbeat optimism that the game projects.
Overall the feel of the game was… pleasant. That’s not in the derogative sense, but if I wrote that it made me feel a little warm and fuzzy, I think I’d be the one punching myself in the face. Half Past Fate is a nice game, emphasis on ‘nice’. The interaction with each character is a pleasant experience, and it doesn’t overplay the stereotypes too much, i.e. teenagers and hipsters. It’s a great game to sit back and unwind to and even features some in-game achievements to unlock as you plod through the story. Nothing too strenuous, but it may require a couple of playthroughs as you’re bound to miss a few challenges here and there. But, do bear in mind that Half Past Fate can be quite repetitive and lacking any real difficulty.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Half Past Fate Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
A nice game to chill too that’s not going to be too taxing on the brain, but equally, enjoyable enough to keep you captivated to perhaps complete this in one or two sittings and the added achievements and to the replayability, though don’t expect a different experience the next time you play.
- Gorgeous graphics.
- A romantic story, if a little corny.
- In-game achievements for added replay.
- Not much of a challenge.
- If you aren’t the romantic type, you may find this a chore.
- A very linear process without alternative paths.