FATE is really good, particularly for a decade-old game. The graphics are simple, but cute and colorful. The music's cheerful. And the gameplay is a simple concept that really keeps you engaged. In my case, this definitely isn't nostalgia speaking, and I'm not looking at it through the rose-colored lenses of my childhood. I never played it, or any others in the series, until recently. And it's kind of impressive just how well this game has held up over time.
The game's premise, borrowed liberally from the original Diablo, is a basic dungeon-crawler RPG. Each level of the dungeon is randomly generated and filled with items and monsters. Villagers in town will give you quests tied to specific levels, and you journey in and out of the dungeon as you complete your tasks. You can only take three quests at a time, and it's up to you whether you take the maximum on every level and explore every corridor, or rush through on your way to the final boss.
As you complete quests and hack and slash your way through the dungeon's monsters, you gain experience, and leveling up allows you to increase your skills and stats in specific areas. Looting dungeons gives you gold and items, and there are also several vendors in town who can sell you items, or perform various services. You can also earn money (and find rare items) by catching fish in the fishing holes found throughout the game.
Got too much stuff to carry around in the dungeon? No problem. You'll have a pet, an un-killable companion that can also ferry your junk to town in exchange for gold. Your pet can also help fight enemies, but it will flee if its health gets too low and be no use in the fight. If the basic cat or dog isn't powerful enough, you can feed your pet fish in order to transform them into different monsters found in the game. If this sounds an awful lot like Torchlight, it's pretty evident that FATE was a huge influence on that game.
There is a main story quest that is basically just a harder boss on some random level close to lvl 50. Since the levels are generated randomly, you could just keep playing by continuing down for thousands of levels. Even without the practically unending dungeon, randomly generated levels and a pretty big combination of skills and gear gives FATE almost infinite replayability. This is actually featured in the game well, since finishing the main quest allows you to create a "descendant" character. This new character can keep one "heirloom" item but begin his or her own adventure. It's especially cool that you can also import characters from FATE into the sequels as well, heirlooms and all.
As an RPG, FATE is not terribly deep. But it is a lot of fun, and it's a great – if somewhat casual – way to blow off steam while crawling through maze-like dungeons and blasting or slashing your way through colorful mobs of creatures.