Nippon Ichi are back! The team that brought you the beloved Disgaea series have returned once again to fill that dungeon crawling need with their new game The Guided Fate Paradox. While the game has a slow start, it stands as an addictive adventure that’s hard to put down.
Paradox follows Renya, a lazy otaku who doesn’t think he’ll amount to anything. Little does he know that the lottery he’s about to win awards the winner as the title of god. He’s soon taken to the angel sanctuary in the sky and forced to change people’s fate. The story doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s nonsense. And that’s what makes it beautiful. The 4th wall breaking and constant referrals to anime and manga make the game highly enjoyable for people who know their stuff.
Gameplay of Paradox is the most interesting thing about it. While the game looks like Disgaea, it plays completely differently. Renya explores randomly generated dungeons on a grid surface, much like the Pokémon dungeon series. He finds better weapons and armour and defeats a wide range of monsters. Getting to the end of the dungeon rewards him with his level being set back to zero. At first this sounds confusing. But it’s not. In fact it’s rather brilliant. When Renya’s level is reset, some of the stats he leveled up stay like leveled up. Meaning he always gets stronger, even when his level is zero. It gives off the pleasurable feeling of “Yes, another level up!” consistently, while also never punishing the player.
The game is no push over. The enemies are tough and rewarding to defeat, and clearing a floor in a dungeon gives a sense of triumph. But like in most games, death is inevitable. And death in Paradox is a little bit too punishing. If Renya falls in battle, he will return back at the sanctuary. Without all of his weapons. That’s right, dying results in all of the items in Renya’s bag being lost. This seems a little too unfair on players, it means that they will have to go back into earlier dungeons to grind for weapons. It’s a good idea that doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the game.
Stylistically, Paradox looks just like the old Disgaea games. 2D sprites in a 3D world. The worlds look interesting, if a bit blocky. But the character sprites sick out like a sore thumb. This may have looked good on a Standard Definition PS2 six years ago, but it just looks blurry and unfinished by today’s standards. What does save it, are the character portraits and voice acting. When in conversation, the character portraits look fantastic, having little details on them that show how much effort was put into them. The voice actor for Renya does a fantastic job of capturing the scared, confusing, yet overly happy tone of the teenage otaku.
The Guided Fate Paradox is a fantastic venture into a weird world full of mad angels and teenage gods. It takes a while to really get going, and death is overly punishing. But the game is ridiculously fun and knows it. It’s a great time to just turn your brain off and get lost in the madness.
This review was originally on http://www.gamingcapacity.com/