Who would have thought that being a god would be a lackluster experience? Welcome to Celestia, a heaven filled with beautiful anime “angels,” monsters, and a new teenage deity. When Celestia needed to fill its vacant heavenly father position, the angels decided that the next lord would be chosen by a lottery. Enter Renya, a seventeen year-old boy who spends the first ten minutes of The Guided Fate Paradox informing the player about his terrible luck. Lo and behold, he meets a beautiful girl dressed as a cosplay maid who just so happens to be an angel in disguise (I can’t make this up). She coerces Renya into entering the god lottery, and although he’s very reluctant to do so, he wins and becomes the new big guy.
The Guided Fate Paradox is a rogue-like dungeon-crawler that unfortunately bombards PlayStation 3 players with a huge amount of dialogue and those oh-so-wonderful “cut-away” cut scenes that are incredibly long, boring, and feel as though they should have been released a decade ago. Speaking of being outdated, The Guided Fate Paradox looks like an early PlayStation 2 game that was made in the same time frame as Disgaea and Phantom Brave – but without the charm. Nippon Ichi Software has crafted some of the greatest strategy RPGs I have ever had the privilege to enjoy, but The Guided Fate Paradox falls flat.
When I first booted The Guided Fate Paradox, I noticed the decade old animation and storytelling. I’m not typically a sucker for shiny graphics, but the sprite resolution is so low, that the gamy may as well be Disgaea 2. Voice acting is stereotypically poor, but that’s somewhat to be expected in most JRPGs, especially ones with a seemingly low budget.
As in many NIS games, The Guided Fate Paradox has a central “hub-world” called Celestia. From there Renya can recruit allies, buy equipment, and jump into the Fate Revolution Circuit, which serves as a conduit for people’s wishes. See, as God, you get a lot of prayers and wishes sent your way. In order to answer said wishes, Renya and company must use the Fate Revolution Circuit to travel to a world known as “The Copy World.” There, God can alter the events in people’s lives, which then will affect their lives in “The Real World.” Renya cannot actively change The Real World, but can use The Copy World to influence the lives of those who send him wishes.
The Fate Revolution Circuit is where you’ll battle through level after level of dungeons. In these dungeons, you fight monsters who are negatively influencing the wisher’s life, and by defeating them you make a wish come true. It’s all fairly derivative story elements that give you an excuse to level grind for hours on end. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
You control Renya by using the D-Pad. From there he can only move in one direction at a time and you must continuously turn him to face the proper direction. This caused problems because I often had Renya positioned in the wrong direction and had to waste a turn to correct the issue and attack the right foe. Once you fully commit the outdated controls to muscle memory, what you’re left with is a large, purposeless grind.
While there is a story, boss fights, and an eventual showdown, it all feels very pointless and mundane. Combat is more of an annoyance than functional and enemies offer little-to-no challenge. The enemies stay relatively dormant, until you walk into their area, from there you are attacked until either Renya or the monster is defeated. Over, and over, and over, and over ad nauseum. The combat system is easy, but bland. The animations are worse, but the level systems are plentiful!
You use items to improve Renya’s abilities as he levels up. Each time Renya levels up, he gains access to different abilities based on his equipment. By using a lot of daggers and swords, Renya gains access to physical attack increases, such as armor defense. When Renya’s equipment level increases, his own personal stats increase, too (as do the stats of the helpful angels). It’s a multi-layered system that is one of The Guided Fate Paradox‘s few shining moments. It allows for great customization, so that no two play-throughs will be the same. However, it still doesn’t remedy the futility of combat and grinding.
You essentially level grind and dungeon dive, to further level grind and dungeon dive. It’s a very cyclical process, and it’s pointless. I have never minded grinding or dungeon crawling in my gaming life, but The Guided Fate Paradox gives no punch, no reason, and no purpose. The story makes living as God feel very trivial and boring. The standard anime tropes are both tired for the genre and exhausting for the player. Can there be an anime hero who is good at what he does? Does every lead anime character have to be awful with women, awkward in all social situations, and stereotypically meek? While Renya does learn to become God, he never embraces the power and is horribly lacking any self esteem.
The Guided Fate Paradox offers roughly 40 hours of gameplay, but it left me unfulfilled and annoyed. It was too monotonous and lacking of any necessity that in the end, I’m not sure if I can say the game is good or bad. The Guided Fate Paradox just…is. It’s too boring and repetitive to be good, but also too unassuming to be bad. The Guided Fate Paradox feels like a cool tech demo for the beginnings of an RPG system that could work. But when it comes down to purchasing this game, your cash is better spent elsewhere. If you love JRPGs and SJRPGS, please feel free to play any other game developed by NIS such as Disgaea (1-4), Phantom Brave, La Pucelle Tactics, or any other decent JRPG on the market. You’ll ultimately have more fun.