Playing as a recently appointed god, you’d think that having infinite freedom and power would be a pretty relaxed job with no worries. You soon find that to be far from the case as you fight hundreds of dungeon dwelling monsters to answer prayers in this expansive, story-driven roguelike from NIS America.
The game begins with perpetually unlucky high schooler Renya Kagurazaka winning the chance to be god from an encounter with an angel and mysterious lottery machine. This catapults Renya into a crazy saga involving angels, demons and a whole cast of characters he needs to help by answering their prayers and granting their wishes. Shortly after being given the good news about his prize, Renya is taken to Celestia and is introduced to the angels that you’ll be working with as well as Lilliel – your personally appointed angel, all of whom are inexplicably dressed as maids and butlers.
Whilst still trying to wrap his head around the bizarre situation, Renya is then instructed on his main responsibility as god, that being to grant the wishes of people that have prayed to him using the Fate Revoultion Circuit, a giant machine with the power to change ones fate. To do that, Renya and one of the angels, usually LillIel, go inside the machine into a reproduction of the real world, known as the ‘copy world’ to change the fate of the chosen person and alter the ‘original world’ in the process. That basically boils down to entering a multi-floor dungeon and beating up the ‘aberrations’ that are trying to prevent you from changing their fate.
The main game is split into chapters, each with a different believer and their wish that you need to grant. This takes Renya to a range of strange and unusual places such as an inter-dimensional library, the bottom of the sea and even a zombie-filled graveyard. Each floor in the copy world dungeons are randomly generated, as with most roguelikes, so even if you replay a dungeon, you never really know what the layout will be or even how many enemies you might encounter or what loot you may expect to find. The gameplay will be quite familiar if you played Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger VS. Darkdeath Evilman, another roguelike title released by NISA on the PSP a couple years ago.
You walk around each floor trying to find the exit to the next one, all while fighting monsters, dodging traps and collecting any cool items scattered around or dropped from defeated foes. The game is shown in 3/4 isometric view, reminiscent of titles like disgaea, makai kingdom or phantom brave. Controlling while inside the Fate Revolution Circuit takes a bit of getting used to because of this since you solely use the d-pad for movement, which can sometimes leave you unsure of which direction on the d-pad you need to press to move in the direction you want. Once you’re in a dungeon, you’re stuck in there and can’t get out until you get to the exit on the last floor, or die. Thankfully, you’re given a bit of a helping hand in the first few dungeons by being allowed to exit halfway through for a break.
Every time you start a dungeon, you revert back to level 1, regardless of what level you finished the previous dungeon at. This may seem like a setback, but the levels that you’ve gained previously add to your total level count, which increase your base stats. Several methods are then available to further increase these stats, like using the ‘body modification’ tool in your base and equipping weapons and armour, which also give you the ability to use special skills specific to each item. The level of customisation you have even allows you to strengthen and synthesise your items to increase their effectiveness or change the colour and name of specific pieces of equipment. Since dying in the dungeons will cause you to any equipped items, including those you may have spent ages customising and refining, you may find yourself quickly reloading your save after getting killed to keep your precious equipment.
While the game has a deceptively relaxed start, the difficulty ramps up pretty fast after the first couple dungeons, which waste no time in rapidly increasing the level of enemies as you progress through floors and occasionally dumping you into rooms completely packed with “ABERRATIONS OUT THE WAZOO!” as Renya so elegantly exclaims at each of these daunting encounters. Knowing this you’d be wise to save often and use all the tools available to make sure you’re prepared for the next dungeon.
Aside from the main story, additional dungeons can be challenged to build up your total level count and also find rare and powerful loot to make you a force to be reckoned with. There’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes with defeating a powerful foe or hoard of aberrations out for your blood when the odds are stacked against you. Fighting monsters somehow remains addictively fun even after thousands of encounter, leading you to seek out more challenging enemies and become stronger. You can then take your progress into a new game after completing the story to take on extra dungeons and work towards achieving over 999999999 total levels!
The storyline has that trademark NISA light-hearted humour you’d expect from the dialogue between characters, but also has a fair amount of drama when the plot starts to get more serious later in the game when the denizens of the Netherworld are introduced as an ever-present danger to Celestia. The deep, engaging story in the Guided Fate Paradox will keep you hooked as you conquer dungeons in the copy world and find out more about Celestia and Renya’s true purpose as god, all while learning more about the angels’ past and seeing their characters develop during the course of the main story.
You see a surprising range of emotion during the fully voiced cut scenes, especially when dealing with the believers who’s wish you’re trying to grant and the people close to them. The amount of dialog in these cut scenes makes you appreciate the great performances from the voice actors. With characters designed by Noizi ito (the illustrator behind The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Shakugan No Shana) and vibrant HD sprites, the game looks fantastic and the soundtrack complements the game well, particularly the opening music and the boss themes which set the mood and get the blood pumping for the epic end of dungeon battles.