Sat on a bench on a rainy night I look up to see a house with brightly lit windows, as I approached the screen lit up in a bright flare of light, when my vision returned the world started breaking away before my very eyes, the ground cracked and fell apart. The sky became a black ocean in which mysterious whale-like creatures flew majestically overhead as I looked on and began to explore. A bright silhouette of a woman beckoned me forward, thus began my approximately 3-hour adventure to discover what on earth our friends at MARSLIT GAMES have cooked up.
Unknown Fate is a narrative puzzler that follows your protagonist “Richard” into a creepy and stylish world of eerie mystery. Right from the start I was really impressed with the visuals, playing on Switch in handheld mode the world looked rich in detail with unique character and creature designs. I did need to turn the gamma up slightly due to how dark early sections of the game were but once in docked mode the game continued to look very appealing on the big screen. The sound and voice acting also deserves a mention as the score went from eerie and creepy to melodic and melancholy as I progressed through the various lands within this world. The characters were all very well voiced, each sounding unique and full of personality. Unknown Fate was originally released on steam with optional VR support and I got the sense VR would have been the best way to really enjoy this world that really draws you in.
With the story being the core of this game I don’t want to risk spoiling it by delving too deeply into the finer plot points but the plot is well written and really pulls you forward. Being a narrative puzzler the majority of your gameplay will be spent exploring, solving puzzles, speaking with the worlds denizens who will have you second guessing who is helping and who is hindering you while doing some good old fashioned collecting of crystal shards, when found these shards reveal Richards full back story which unfolds in a series of stylish black and white flashbacks, some are interactive and some unfold in the form of a silent movie. Early on Richard is imbued with the power to wield “The Artifact” a powerful orb which is the key to solving the worlds large amount of traversal puzzles that increase with complexity as you progress.
These puzzles are simple in nature but do require a degree of forethought as you manage shifting platforms, slowing down time and manipulating objects to unlock and form the path’s you need to progress. Combat also plays a part in the adventure though it is lacklustre at best and feels unfortunately shoehorned in. Consisting of using a stun attack followed by firing a few shots at a glowing weak spot of these humanoid beasties, this lacks any form of challenge and I never felt like they were a threat to me, more of a hindrance and just got in the way of the fun I was having exploring the world and piecing together the story.
The controls too were not as smooth as they could have been, even turning sensitivity up I found lining up my crosshair with the target points of enemies and puzzles a bit of a chore as the game went on, this became a bit frustrating in the later sections when managing multiple objects in a short space of time was required. Luckily if you do fall off a ledge or get killed by a monster the game spawns you back fairly close to where you were so you won’t have to repeat whole sections of the game over again, this is a nice touch but one that would probably be unnecessary altogether if the controls were smoother. On Switch I was playing with the joy-con set up and would have liked to see motion control as an option to allow smoother aiming.
I did enjoy my time with Unknown Fate overall despite a few shortcomings. The game really set’s up what could be a very interesting world and is one I would love to return to with fresh stories. MARSLIT GAMES could be on to something special here and I look forward to seeing what comes out of their studio next. If you are not a fan of Narrative Puzzlers then Unknown Fate will probably not do anything to sway your mindset but if you are a fan and are looking for a game that has a genuinely intriguing and well-written story, fantastic music and a beautifully crafted world then look no further.
Beard Score: 6.5/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: 05/03/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Narrative Puzzler
Publisher: MARSLIT GAMES
Download link: eShop