Wheel of Fate – Hands On!

“I have noticed even people
who claims everything is predestined
and that we can do nothing to change it,
look before they cross the road”
Stephen Hawking

Wheel of fate is many things but, first of all, is a very ambitious game.
In recent years has been growing a specific “trend”: if a game wants to boast of being “ambitious” usually it must be veeeery big. Yeah, all of us know that size matters (uh…), but it seems that nowadays, if a game wants to be considered truly “ambitious”, it must have at least a world map as big as a real Country (and not even a little one, like Liechtenstein, I mean…), as well as hundreds of NPCs, infinite items and so on.
In other words, everyone seems to be able to conceive the word “ambitious” only in quantitative terms, forgetting how important can be, for example, the introduction of a very original feature, something, for example, that nobody has ever created before.
Try to think about how beautiful would be the development of an outstanding A.I. capable of learning from your choices!

Obviously, I’m aware that this is a very delicate matter. Maybe, since the invention of videogames, one of the most unfulfilled promises of the developers has ever been the creation of a TRUE Artificial Intelligence. We dreamt about enemies able to learn from our moves, or stories capable of changing or adapting to the player’s choices, but none of these promises was really fulfilled. Decades have passed since then, but, even now, when we play no matter what videogame, we are still forced to face enemies less funny than a review of Common Sense Media.

So can we say that all hope is lost? I don’t think so. Recently I played some indie videogames (comes to my mind Wildermyth) that, at least, tries to re-think the definition of A.I. and its role.
Obviously Wheel of Fate is one of them, and its promise is really bombastic: a cRPG completely driven by the A.I.! Try to think to a videogame with a machine learning technology that is able to adapt to your style of gameplay. In other words, imagine the A.I. developed by UDX Interactive like a digital dungeon master that can change the ambient environmental effects, parts of the story, and the random events you experience as you play the game. In other terms, not a simply procedurally generated game like any other, but a game with a content that is totally determined by the player’s behavior.

Dream or reality? At the moment it is not yet possible to answer this question, but, with the e.a. version of the game in my hands, I can try to figure out something more about the game.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the story, so I will simply say that in the early part of the game you’ll soon discover that you are not an ordinary “man”, but no less than the “Avatar of the Fate”.
Yeah, it sounds interesting, right? But what does it really mean?
Well, it’s quite simple, Fate is the force necessary to keep the order in the universe and everything seems to be fine, BUT (obviously there must be a “BUT”, because without it there won’t be the game) an Affliction is destroying this order, and your duty, as Avatar of the Fate, will be exactly what your guessing right now: defeat the Affliction!

At the beginning of the story you reach a town where – so it seems – you can finally find the bandits who exterminated your village. The starting location is a rather generic town with some people walking around aimlessly and where nobody seems to take care of you, but this is just an impression. You don’t even have the time to feel lost that, after your first combat tutorial, you meet a very greedy major and another mysterious character that send you in the first dungeon of the game.
If I’m being honest, at a first glance Wheel of Fate is not very impressive. Indeed, the game fail to catch your attention and the main reason, at least for me, is the art style, that I found quite uninspired. Even if the graphic is very colorful and adopt a some sort of cel-shading, it lacks a little personality.
Obviously we have to consider that the game is still in early stages of development, so there is still some space for improvement.
Luckily, apart from the graphic, the game has much more to say.

For example, I really liked the freedom the game offers in terms of customization of your character.
At the start you can choose between four races, each one very imaginative and with its pros and cons. The game has its own well-defined universe so here there is no space for humans, elves or dwarfs. I think this is a very brave choice and I really appreciated it. After that, you still have to choose your class (these are more canonical, like ranger, champion and so on) and, eventually, there is the important choice of the Zodiac.
Overall, considering also the skills you can acquire during the game, you are really free to build your character as you wish.

Another important feature of the game is the combat system. We can define it like a turn-based combat system with an active response that allows you to plan your moves. Visually each fight is represented like in any other traditional JRPG with your characters on the left and your enemies on the right of the screen.
On the left you can also see two bars: the bigger one is the “Speed Bar”, where the order of the fighters is determined by their agility; when the icon of the character reach the end of the first bar comes into play the second one: the “Cast Bar” that indicates the time needed to prepare your move. And eventually, when the skill is finally ready, it pops up the Active Response Ring, a classic example of Quick Time Event.
Overall, we can say that the combat system is quite entertaining, especially after you have acquired a good number of skills from which to choose, but for someone the frequent recourse to the QTE system may represent a problem.

Among other interesting features, we cannot forget the possibility to transform the ramshackle town of Kismet’s Fall into a splendid city, and, above all, the “wheel of Fate” itself.
The first feature allows you, as the Protector, to manage and defend Kismet’s Fall, upgrading its buildings and preparing for sieges.
In regard to the “wheel of Fate”, instead, suffice it to say that, during your adventures, you will soon encounter the above mentioned wheel and, as the Avatar of Fate, you will be compelled to spin it. At each spin all the conditions of your world change and the game will determine the environments, the loot drops, the enemies and even the dialogue choices.

As always, considering that we are talking about an early access game, we cannot express any final judgment on it, but, as you can see by yourself, the game, despite a certain lack of content and a not-so-inspired graphic, can still claim a lot of interesting and somehow revolutionary features that make it a game to look forward to.

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