Half Past Fate Review

Half Past Fate is a charming visual novel plus point-and-click adventure for the Nintendo Switch. The game follows the lives of several young urbanites as they navigate quaint vignettes of love and friendship. Based around a series of stereotypical “meet-cutes”, Half Past Fate tells all the relationship stories players are probably already used to hearing: the enemies-to-friends, the missed connection, the will-they-wont-they. 

The diverse cast of characters keeps each story segment from getting too predictable. Players can expect to follow 6 main characters across a span of 12 years. There’s Rinden, a businessman in renewable energy; Ana, a marketing intern; Jaren, a video game store employee; Bia, a photographer; Milo, a filmmaker and Mara, the CEO of a tech start-up. 

This mishmash of names and faces seems a lot to take in at first but I promise it’s worth it in the end; having a fresh perspective, each chapter helps inject a bit of energy into the pace of the game. Take a mental snapshot of the cover or intro screen of the game, though, so that you know to whom to pay special attention. A lot of names come and go and it can be hard to figure out where to direct your energy until about the 4th chapter when reappearances finally start to get more concrete.

The game is deliciously self-aware, giving fans of metanarratives something to look forward to. At one point, Jared, the game store employee, even says: “Lost love, a missed connection, stuff they make video games about.” The game is sharp-witted enough to keep meandering minds engaged. 

Your story is divided into 12 chapters according to a select segment of days within the 12-year total timespan: ie., “twelve days earlier”, “five years earlier”, “two hours earlier.” Think of the storyboarding as an ode to 2009 Marc Webb film 500 Days of Summer and you’ll get the gist. The game plays with time in an abstract way, letting the player know there is a countdown, but leaving the mystery open: To what? 

Half Past Fate is also gorgeous to look at. The pastel color scheme of the cityscape seems to take inspiration from the “retro wave” aesthetic, where the low fi 16-bit tunes also feel right at home. The setting hinges on a few key locations—the city block outside of a coffee shop, a college campus, a corporate office suite, and other urban cliches.

Half Past Fate plays out in a 3/4 perspective, with most of the background fleshed out as 3D while the characters seem to have flat edges (think: simplified Danganronpa visuals). This style can be divisive and may be a turn-off to some players; however, the somewhat “off-kilter” feeling that it emanates certainly fits with the theme of each character struggling to find their foothold in love, life, and work. The background enhances these thematic elements of the story.

Seemingly irrelevant cityscape characters, like a woman behind the stall offering drink samples at a tea festival, become surprise primary characters in later chapters, often making an appearance as a best friend or coworker. This storytelling technique is a wonderful—and subtle—reminder of the interconnectedness of society; it weaves a warmth into Half Past Fate’s fabric that might otherwise be lacking narrative-wise. 

It would be nice if Half Past Fate offered a past chatlog to read through, as the text progression buttons are quite sensitive, causing some dialogue boxes to slip away if you aren’t careful. The mechanics can’t seem to find a good balance when it comes to text speed: players can either wait for each word to type itself out (quite a slow process) or can attempt to rush ahead with a button tap and risk losing the whole screen. 

The background chatter (reading signs and talking to non-story-related NPCs), although usually optional, tends to feel a bit long-winded. If you are the type of player determined to explore every nook and cranny, you will likely find yourself button-mashing on more than one occasion. Some puzzle solutions don’t offer obvious targets, either—for example, you may spend much time talking to a series of NPCs only to find out the progression of the story hinges on looking at an image on a noodle house wall (spoilers).

If you’re a player motivated by a simple, actionable achievements list, you will enjoy the one that Half Past Fate has to offer. Achievements range from simply completing a chapter (unmissable) to exploring each scene for a familiar cartoon rabbit or thoroughly engaging in every dialogue thread with a character. The additional challenge makes this short game much fuller. 

If you enjoy games like Crossing Souls, Night in the Woods, or Knights and Bikes, you will probably enjoy Half Past Fate.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Half Past Fate Review
  • Gameplay - 9/10
    9/10
  • Graphics - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Sound - 7/10
    7/10
  • Replay Value - 2.5/10
    2.5/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)
Overall
7/10

Summary

Half Past Fate is a visually-appealing, character-driven story, held back by some minor mechanical annoyances that can be overlooked if you’re in the mood for a cheesy-but-fun love story.

Pros

  • Character story arcs
  • Retro graphics
  • Fun point-and-click puzzles

Cons

  • Shifty dialogue controls
  • Long-winded background text