Fate

By Shamus
on Jan 6, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Fate, Character, Pet
My wizzard Yuna and her pet cat Kimari. Arent they just the cutest?
The term “clone” gets thrown around a lot when talking about videogames. If a game is first-person and has guns and monsters, then people will refer to it as a “Doom clone”. Turn-based strategy? Must be a “Civilizations clone”.

Fate is one game where I think the “clone” moniker is deserved. Fate is more or less a straight-up Diablo clone. It duplicates the mechanics and play style of Diablo II right down to having the same windows with the same information that are opened with the same hotkeys. It would be fair to say that Fate is like Diablo, only more so. If Blizzard were to release Diablo III tomorrow, I doubt it would be as similar to Diablo 2 as Fate is, gameplay-wise.

Note that in this case being a clone is not a bad thing. Diablo II hit the shelves about seven years ago. It was an exceptionally popular game with a lot of longevity, and Blizzard doesn’t seem inclined to make another. (Most of the team that made Diablo is now at another company making Hellgate: London) A couple of games since then have taken a clumsy stab at capturing the Diablo gameplay, but up until now nobody has had the audacity to just duplicate all the stuff people liked.

It’s a tried-and-true formula. This sort of thing gets called a “roleplaying game”, but of course there is no actual playing of roles involved. The core of the game is combat and loot-gathering. You are never presented with much in the way of story, characters, or puzzles. In Diablo the plot was window dressing. (Great window dressing, to be sure, but window dressing all the same.) You could skip every cutscene in the game and you would never be confused about what you needed to do next. Fate takes this experience and concentrates it. It replaces the “go kill Diablo, Lord of Terror” with “Go kill the randomly-generated uber foe at the bottom of the dungeon.” It replaces the shallow NPCs of Diablo with simple, dialog-free characters that act as quest vending machines. It shrugs off all pretense of storytelling and lets you focus on the business of killing monsters and taking their stuff. The game is almost willful in its lack of imagination, right down to the name “Fate”, which has been used by several games already.

The game starts in the town called “Grove”, a charming little village which is beset by evil, only not so much that you’d notice. The only sign that anything is amiss is that the entire economy of the village is centered around trading with adventurers, who are encouraged to go into the dungeon from the moment they set foot in town. The entrance to the dungeon is a gigantic set of doors on the eastern side of town, which leads to a Nethack-ish world of continually descending dungeon levels and increasing difficulty.

The only way in which the game really breaks free from its Diablo envy is in the area of art. It avoids the grim, bloody style of these sorts of games and instead creates a whimsical little world of chibi characters that is suitable for kids. I’m not a huge fan of this “cutesy” style, but it is endearing. I do wish their hands and feet weren’t so huge. I think it would look a lot better without the “I’m wearing boxing gloves and my dad’s boots” look. Still, the game is safe for kids and will most likely appeal to women in a way that Diablo never did. (Assuming my wife’s enthusiasam is indicitive of the typical female response. It’s not like I took a survey or anything.)

If you want the obsessive list of how the two games overlap, then read on…

  1. D2 has four character attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, and Magic. When you level up you get 5 points, which can be used to improve these 4 stats. Fate has the exact same thing.

  2. D2 has “hirelings”, which are NPCs which follow you around and act as a caster / meat shield to compliment your meat shield / caster. Your companion levels up with you (staying slightly behind you in power) and has a more limited set of items to wear. You also can’t guide their development directly. Fate replaces this with a pet, which serves the same function.

  3. Both games have the same interface: Point and click to move. Click on a monster to attack. Right-click to cast a spell. Function keys F1 through F12 are used to select your spell. Both games have your character screen, skills screen, inventory screen, and quest screen, all of which appear in the same locations using the same hotkeys.

  4. D2 has “socketed items”. Certain items in the game will have these open sockets, into which you can fit gems. The gems add bonues to the object based on what the color of the gem is. Gems and socketed items are both pretty rare. Once placed, the gem cannot be removed, so you have to choose wisely before you unite a gem and an item. Fate has a larger selection of gems, but it all works the same way.

  5. D2 has monster shrines (if you click on one it summons a really tough monster for you to fight) and gem shrines, which will simply dispense a valuable gem. Fate unites these into “Fate Shrines”, which will randomly do one or the other.

  6. D2 has gambling, where some guy in town will sell you items at a big markup, without letting you see the properties of the item first. Once purchased, the item is revealed. This is usually a waste of money (hence the name) but once in a while you hit the jackpot and get something really incredible. Fate has the same deal.

  7. D2 has you wading into a dungeon with a limited collection of monsters for each level. Every once in a while you’ll meet a “boss” version of one of this level’s monsters. Aside from being far more powerful, it will be larger / brighter / a different color, and surrounded by four to six “minions”, which are more like the mundane version of the creature with a few extra hit points. Plowing through a boss and his minions can be a really tough fight. Fate has this same thing.

  8. D2 has cartain NPCs in each town: A blacksmith, someone selling wizard gear (staves and scrolls), someone selling potions, a shady guy selling gambling items, a healer, and a few NPC’s to dispense quests. Fate has all of this.

  9. The dungeon areas for both games are randomly generated, filled with monsters that drop random nonsense loot. So you kill a bat and as it dies it drops a set of plate mail.

  10. Both games have “Town Portal” scrolls, which will open a door from the current location (usually deep in the bowels of the dungeon) to the town, so the player can hop through, do some shopping, and jump right back to dungeon level X. The scrolls take up space, so the player can choose to but a bound “book” of these scrolls. The portal is a shimmering blue oval in both games. Both games also have scrolls / books for identifying found magical items.

  11. In D2 you will find some items that are magical, which means they have one or two bonuses attached to them. Then there are rare items, which get a name that describes them, such as “Mighty Saber of the Vampire”, which adds a couple of points to strength and causes the player to get a small percent of the damage they are dishing out added to their own health bar. This system is faithfully reproduced in Fate.

  12. The types of strange nonsense bonuses are the same in both games. You could have a hat that causes foes to drop some percent more gold when slain, or boots that will add to you chance to land a blow with a weapon, or a vest which can increase the chances that randomly generated items will have magical properties. There are dozens of such bonuses, and Fate duplicates them all.

  13. Barels, crates, and ceramic pots litter the levels of both games. Smash them! Some are trapped and release poison or a bit of fire damage, a few contain items, and a vast majority contain nothing.

  14. The player has item slots: Two rings, a necklace, a hat, some armor, a belt, gloves, boots, and an item in each hand. This seems obvious, but lots of games use other configurations. Some offer a place for pants. Some add a quiver for arrows, or omit the gloves and / or belt. There are lots of possible setups, but Fate copied the Diablo system, right down to the size and position of the item slots.

  15. Same weapon classes: Swords, Clubs, Axe, Polearms, Ranged Weapons.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.

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20424 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. GreyDuck says:

    Oh, wow. I’m oddly torn: Do I roll my eyes (and hope for 20s!) and move on, or do I buy this absurd re-creation of a beloved favorite and enjoy the benefits of a half-dozen years or so of improvements in graphics technology while still playing essentially the same game?

    Or, I could remember why I stopped playing D2X in the first place… I don’t have the TIME, man.

  2. Us oldtimers can remember the original game on which both Diablo and Fate were based: Rogue.

  3. Cineris says:

    I heard about this game awhile ago, and I think they have a free trial — Which would probably be all I would be interested in or have the time to play — But I was dissuaded from trying it out from reports that the game installed tons of spyware to your computer.

  4. Rich says:

    I tried the demo. I remember fishing in it. Otherwise it didn’t do anything for me. Nor did the demo that I got install any malware, I guess you have to be careful where you get it from. If I want to play Diablo I’ll install Diablo. YMMV of course.

  5. Bogan the Mighty says:

    I do remeber another good knock off. Titan’s quest was damn near diablo 2 with better graphics. The only real differences were that you’d actually go to different towns, it had about 6 skill sets instead of classes, and no hirelings that I knew of.

  6. Or Rogue’s younger, yet beefier, brother, Angband. Which also has a lot of friends. I can’t speak for Diablo 2, but Angband’s a lot harder and deeper than Diablo 1.

    On the note of Diablo 2 being popular: I can’t believe it’s 7 years old. I’m still waiting for Diablo 2 to hit the bargain bin! Diablo 2 + the expansions is still $40 everywhere I look. That’s absolutely incredible longevity for a game, which tends to make a new car look like a solid investment.

  7. I suspect that Blizzard licensed the engine.

    I’m hoping it really is D2, with running …

    I once respecked a fantasy RPG to fit D2/LOD.

    Seems to me that once you’ve played through, not only should you then be able to play hardcore, but better, you should be able to opt to start at level 30. Give it four difficulty levels, let characters level to 150+ and a few other changes … hmm, interesting to see how World of Warcraft went a different way (and you can read a good guide and get a fifteen day trial disk for $1.99).

    But, of all things, Diablo 3 is still under production, they were just advertising for more people to work on it. Guess Guild Wars has been successful enough to convince them that D3 should be done (Guild Wars is a D3 clone, so to speak).

  8. bkw says:

    Ooo shiny.

    Is it multiplayer? I’m betting no (whaddaya want for $20?), but I can’t find anything on the game website that clearly states 1/2+ players. I would love a MP Diablo clone with randomly generated content. There’s only so many times you can climb up the slopes of Harrogoth …

    We walked into a game store this evening looking for additional Wii controllers. The first thing we saw upon opening the door was a display case of Starcraft and Diablo boxes.

    Talk about your longevity. I can’t think of any other PC game that’s been around as long — and still commanding premium shelf space and non-bargain bin prices.

  9. Will says:

    I’ve also played Titan’s Quest. There are a few more choices when it comes to picking a skill path (or paths), bit otherwise it’s very similar. The one thing that many (though not all) thought was an improvement was eliminating the need to carry around arrows and town portal scrolls. You needed an obscene number of arrows in D2, and you could basically fill your inventory and still not get very far on Hell difficulty. TQ just gives you infinite arrows and lets you blast away.

  10. Pixy Misa says:

    Mixy the Two-Handed Axe-Girl and her Magical Shopping Cat Muffin give it the thumbs up.

    Not amazing, but worth twenty bucks if you like that sort of game.

  11. Lanthanide says:

    You’ve missed out the most interesting part of this whole tale.

    The creators of Diablo 2 left Blizzard North to start Flagship Studios, developing Hellgate: London which is the spiritual successor to Diablo 2.

    Flagship have recently announced that they have a new office called Flagship Seattle (or Flagship North…), which is working on a new game, Mythos. Flagship Seattle is headed by Travis Baldree, the creator of Fate. Turns out that Mythos looks like the spiritual sucessor to Fate.

    Check out this thread for the press release + screenshot: http://hellgate.loadedinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1694

  12. Yahzi says:

    Ha! Didn’t expect to see you here, Pixy.

    :D

  13. Deoxy says:

    “Seems to me that once you’ve played through, not only should you then be able to play hardcore, but better, you should be able to opt to start at level 30. Give it four difficulty levels, let characters level to 150+ and a few other changes”

    That sound just like Sacred, which is another Diablo clone (though much less similar than Fate, apparently).

  14. Tallain says:

    I actually enjoyed this game. Even though it’s a blatant clone, it’s fun, to-the-point, and doesn’t try to disguise itself. An excellent game if you’re in the mood to play a game but don’t know which one to play yet.

  15. David V.S. says:

    Steven’s right. Diablo was simply someone having the bright (and profitable) idea to put real graphics and interface on a Rogue-like for the first time. Calling any Rogue-like besides Rogue “derivative” of another is somewhat the pot calling the kettle black.

  16. David V.S. says:

    Oh, and I recently tried the Palm OS Rogue-likes and IMHO kMoria is leagues prettier than iRogue and iLarn. (I have to do something while waiting after receiving my allergy shots.)

  17. Ryan says:

    I downloaded the demo a couple of days ago and have loved this game.
    It everything I loved about Diablo 2, with a few small, but significant improvements – the biggest being the ability to pay one of the NPCs to attempt to enhance any item, at any time. On each try there is the possibility that he will fail to improve the item – which happens occasionally, but not so much that it’s too irritating, and the chance that he will curse the item – which hasn’t happened me yet. As the item becomes more powerful the cost to enhance it increases.
    The demo expired on me last night, so I’ll be heading to Game Stop tonight to buy it, definitely worth $20.

  18. benny says:

    is there any other cheat then “gold” i need more money and more fame

  19. Diablo 3 says:

    Lets hope diablo 3 is gonna be a big success like d2

  20. Steve says:

    Actually now they’re working on D3. Sounds fun!. Fate bored me though..

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