It's a familiar story. Boy enters lottery. Boy wins lottery. Boy becomes God. It's something that happened to us twice in the space of the last week - and something that forms the plot of the upcoming role playing game, the Guided Fate Paradox. After entering said lottery at his local mall, and winning it, ordinary high school student Renya finds himself suddenly bestowed with the powers of a veritable deity, being promoted from student to God in the space of a few seconds. But as the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibilities. Far from just being able to life the high life, Renya goes from living a practically care free life, to one where he has to almost constantly tend to his subjects' wishes and help them out of tough spots, although in a slightly more goofy smite-happy way than you might expect.
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The Guided Fate Paradox is a game that plays out a little differently to other RPGs, in that it's what's referred to as a 'rogue-like' - a genre which has traditionally been the domain of the hardest of the hardcore, mostly thanks to the permanent game-ending deaths many of them have, and their somewhat unusual take on turn-based battles. Or rather, an entire turn based game. You see, for every space you move while exploring the game's dungeons, each enemy on that floor will move at the same time - stay still, and they'll all stay in place too. Get into a battle with one, and every time you make a move, all the enemies on that floor will edge a little bit closer, forcing you to pick and choose your fights, as you try not to get surrounded. While the formula initially lead to a range of incredibly hard games, in recent years, things have begun to diversify a bit, with a fair few more 'friendly' examples coming out, from the family friendly Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, to the weird and wacky world of The Guided Fate Paradox.
Taking your Godly duties to task, your main mission is to help out your denizens in the world below - who include Cinderella, a human-fearing zombie and a revenge-seeking mermaid - by entering the randomly-generated dungeons of the Copy World and battling your way through your subject's fears, unleashing all manner of righteous fury, in order to grant their wishes. Accompanied by your angel side-kicks, you can hurl your enemy 50ft into the air before spin-kicking them into oblivion, fireball them into next week or spin through space before crashing down on your enemies like a ton of axe-wielding bricks, in your quest to deliver judgement. With each weapon coming with it's own special move or bonus skill, The Guided Fate Paradox is packed full of the sorts of crazy over the top attacks you'd expect from the team that invented the similarly wacky strategy game Disgaea, and has its tongue firmly in its cheek, too. Promising a "tale worthy of any other great RPG franchise" - a stark contrast to the usual dungeon crawlers, who's stories are usually little more than an excuse to go out and bash, cast and loot your way to greatness, the game looks set to offer a blend of humour, wrapped in a moving tale - and with NIS's tendency to create games with a quirky sense of humour and memorable cast of characters means we're sure we won't be disappointed.
But unlike NIS America's Disgaea series, which famously lets you max out your characters' levels at 9999, another odd bit about The Guided Fate Paradox is that it'll reset you back to level 1 each time you leave a dungeon - which sounds a little bit counter-intuitive when you first read it. From what we understand, you gain experience points and increase in levels as you defeat enemies in each of the dungeons in much the same way you would in any other role-playing game - but upon finishing each stage, although the 'number' of your level may return to 1, you get to keep all the stat boosts you've gained during your journey through the Copy World. For example, if during your time helping out your believers below you went up a few levels, giving you a +3 boost to your health and a +4 increase in strength, returning to the heavens would scale your accumulated levels back down to level 1, but you'd begin level 1 +3 health and +4 strength higher than you did prior to your little excursion.
It may be a bit of a weird way of doing things, but it fact, there's very little about the Guided Fate Paradox that could be classed as "normal". Even the weapons have a strange new system. When you use the same weapon over and over in battle, there's a chance it may flip into something called a 'Burst' state - almost like it's partially broken, the damage it deals will drop drastically, but you'll still be able to use it to clobber enemies. When you return to Heaven after a mission, however, you'll be able to take it to the Blacksmith to repair, who'll bring it "back to life" stronger than ever, giving you a tile for the 'Divinigram'. Those of you who play a fair few role-playing games may be familiar with skill trees, but the Divinigram is more like a skill floor - by placing the tiles you earn through bursting onto a grid, you'll be able to unlock stat boosts for your attack, health or defence attributes. If you manage to completely surround one of the holy statues that litter the Divinigram's floor you'll earn yourself an even bigger boost.
But the customisation goes a lot further than just boosting your characters stats. While other games may let you change your haircut, or perhaps even your clothes if you're lucky, in the Guided Fate Paradox, there's practically nothing you can't change about your character. Throughout your adventures in the Copy World, you'll find tons and tons of equipment, weapons and accessories to deck out your God and angels, each of which gives you different bonuses, new skills and extra attacks. But perhaps the best part is how incredibly random it all is - there's tank tracks to replace your legs, crab claws to switch for your hands and of course, sombreros and Santa-style beards to make you look spiffing. You could give your angel in tow some crazy mech-spider-leg things and effectively turn her into a turret, or you could hover round each stage sitting snugly in a UFO with a drill for a head. We also spotted pirate outfits, a huge array of firearms and of course, a hat with the face of Disgaea's lovable exploding penguin race, the Prinnies, plastered on.
The Guided Fate Paradox hits the Playstation 3 on the 25th October this year - personally we can't wait to unleash our crab-clawed pirate Prinny cloud-ridding God on the unsuspecting Copy World.