Computer dungeoneering has come some way over the past few years - the superlative Dungeon Master starting a somewhat astonishing revival with a simple to use, but more than effective user interface, excellent audio
SSI's 'sequel' the AD&D-
Other software houses have tried to jump on the bandwagon, some coming close, but just missing the mark (with the likes of Galdregon's Domain springing to mind) whereas others have shot totally wide, releasing titles (mention no names!) that are enjoyable for all of five minutes before the hand reaches for the OFF switch. Now Swiss software house reline have entered the fray, but how will Gates of Dawn compare to the big guns of the FRPG genre?
A nightmare on Fifth Street
The game revolves around a guy by the name of Winwood, the proud owner of a not-
One afternoon, feeling little tired and under the weather, Winwood decides to take a small map, but ends up being catapulted into an alternative earth by a rather nasty piece of work by the name of Thardan.
This twisted mage knows that our hero is the only one who can put paid to his evil schemes, and so has dragged him into this world where magic rules in order to bump him off.
Something went wrong somewhere, and instead of ending up in chains of Thardan's dungeons, Winwood ends up a free, but totally bewildered man, now fighting to save his life and end Thardan's reign once and for all. All the while, Thardan's henchmen will be dong their diabolical utmost to remove Winwood's head from its rightful place atop his shoulders! OK, so much for the scenario, how does the game itself play?
The game area itself is seen from Winwood's point of view (à laDungeon Master et al), with the obligatory compass directions (forward, turn left/right, step left/right, turn around 180 degrees) enabling Winwood to get from A to B, with additional options appearing should Winwood encounter one of the world's many occupants.
Some will actually stop and talk to you (although more often than not the player has to make the first move by instigating a conversation), others will just try and remove you from the picture altogether, so procuring a weapon somewhere of the 'people' you come across can be coerced into joining the quest, should proper motivation be provided - some may need a touch more motivation than others!
The player can have up to four parties of seven individual characters. Each character has various attributes, including hit points (obviously how many hits a character can take before he/she dies), mage
While one party of adventurers is in use, however, the other three groups are inactive, and don't get involved in combat or encounters - however, all groups suffer from hunger and tiredness, and must be dealt with accordingly. If one party gains in experience, all the groups profit from it, but if one group commits a crime, such as needlessly slaughtering innocent bystanders, then all the parties will be tarred with the same brush! Simple - I think...
You're confonted with slavering beasties determined on turning you into a large doner kebab.
We're on a road to nowhere
Unfortunately, Fate: Gates of Dawn is another of those in the category of 'just missed the mark' as far as this style of game is concerned. Graphically, it's all a touch ragged arund the edges, compared to the visuals of, say, Eye of the Beholder (which doesn't help the overall atmosphere of the game), and the myriad of characters the player comes across during the course of play are poorly drawn and somewhat deformed.
Sonics are somewhat limited, depending on how much memory the machine you're running the game on has - a bog-standard A500 will remain almost silent for the vast majority of time, but an upgraded machine will blast out the odd sample here or there, but nothing too impressive.
The main problem with Fate: Gates of Dawn lies in the playability - it's all too frustrating to get anywhere from scratch, this is because mapping the massive wooded area where Winwood starts from is nigh-on impossible. Also, the option presented upon an encounter seem to be copious enough, but most of them are particularly ineffective at getting the results you want.
The overall control of the characters is sluggish at the best of times, and when you're confronted with half-a-
Now, if you're under the impression that I don't like this game very much, you wouldn't be far wrong. Not that it's a total failure - far from it, but it's just that when you compare this to the ageing Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, Fate: Gates of Dawn just doesn't have the brass balls to join the same league as the aforementioned classics.
In all honesty, you'd be better off leaving this on the shelf, and saving your money for Legend of Darkmoon: a far more classic and entertaining product. Nice try, reline, but no cigar.