Never content to repeat the same thing, Bit.Trip once again reinvents itself in Fate, an on rails bullet-hell shooter that feels right at home along with its equally offbeat predecessors. As Commander Video you guided through six levels by a roller-coaster like line, destroying enemies on all sides and attempting to make it to the boss at the end in one piece. As you land shots and collect pickups from you fallen adversaries you level up, which acts as both a health and upgrade system. With each new level your gun becomes more powerful but with each hit you take you lose a level, ultimately leading to a game over screen.
The basic design of Fate is top notch with an original gameplay mechanic, creative bullet patterns, and great boss battles all covered with a thick coating of Bit.Trip paint. Where it falters is in making enemies satisfying to defeat, as bullets never seem to physically connect despite registering as a hit and causing enemies to disappear in an anticlimactic manner that feels like popping a stubborn balloon. Levels also feel a bit long in the tooth topping off at about 10-15 minutes a piece, which seems to drag on longer than I would have liked and makes it somewhat less ideal for quick play sessions.
Despite not making the same impact as something like Bit.Trip Runner, Fate is still an enjoyable experience that does something new and interesting with the bullet-hell genre that I would like to see replicated in other games. The art and music follow the trademarks of the series while going in a darker more subdued direction, and multiple difficulties give a reason to go back after completing it the first time (which will likely take you between 1-2 hours depending on your skill level).
Even if not everything works just right I still applaud Gaijin Games for continually branching out and trying something new, and am once again impressed at how much does work with Bit.Trip Fate despite the radical difference in gameplay it presents. For fans of the series its worth trying just to see how remarkably dynamic the team behind it is.
Posted: December 24th, 2013