I'd been wanting to play this game for many years after first hearing about it back when it was new -- a Diablo clone during the action-rpg drought of much of the 2000s, with all these nice features like a permanent pet that can hold and sell your junk for you while you adventure? Sounded awesome.
Of course, much time passed and I ended up playing Torchlight and its sequel before this game. And on that note, I can go ahead and give you the meat of the review:Torchlight is, simply put, a better version of this game.
And yes, I know it's by the same guys and came before Torchlight -- but there's really no reason to play this instead; there's absolutely nothing that this game does better, or even as well, and they're quite succinctly the exact same game only with Torchlight being newer and more improved. It's not like how they're both direct clones of Diablo 1 but that game has a unique atmosphere and gamefeel that makes it still very much worth playing separately; no, these games are *the exact same thing*, except Torchlight is better.
Torchlight has classes; Fate does not. Fate makes you play a generic character whose un-alterable starting stats are those of a warrior class, even though, for example, playing as a mage is very powerful. Likewise, Torchlight has an actual skill tree system a la Diablo 2 whereas Fate has a flat page of skills of which no playstyle will ever need to put points into more than 3 or 4 max.
Torchlight has a variety of visually luscious dungeon areas, a unique backdrop to each set of floors, whereas Fate hits you with a generic and unappealing handful of locales randomly chosen floor-by-floor. Torchlight also offers enemies cohesive to the area at which you fight them to some degree whereas Fate throws a random mishmash of almost every enemy in the game in your direction each floor, with lower floors having you see a bit more larger stuff along with 'elite' and 'legendary' versions of the smaller stuff to make their HP pools monsterous; there is no rhyme or reason.
Torchlight has a massive amount of powerful equipment to find and collect, offering you many build options and ways to increase your power, while Fate quickly makes you realize a simple and painful truth; farm the shops until you have the maximum gem slots possible in every piece of equipment, then farm the mage shop until you have the required amount of superior gems, asap. There's your endgame equipment; if you're lucky enough to find higher-tier stuff later with the required sockets then good for you, but don't hold your breath. And this goes for all playstyles.
Torchlight has a defined endgame, final floor and final boss, and then a separate 'infinite' dungeon to test your skills if you want to keep playing. Fate gives you a randomized boss monster on a random floor and then gives you the option to go deeper in the same dungeon for no real reason. I will say that the 'descendant' system is interesting, but is it really worth it? Oh sure, you can become insanely powerful and tear up the dungeons for hundreds of levels if you really want, but you've seen all the game has to offer by floor 20 or so max, and by the time you get to your final boss situated 2 or 3 times deeper than that you'll be well and truly done with the game. Even the powerful endgame unique equipment that serves as the carrot-on-a-stick for many action-RPG players is a joke, here -- as far as I can tell, you can get *all* uniques even extremely early in the game via fishing holes, and though some seems tantalizing at first you quickly realize their benefits are still not comparable to a socketed, plain version of the same item; and while a socketed unique may be the ideal, good luck with that. You'll never find them socketed already, and if you dare spend millions of gold at the enchanter in the tiny off-chance you'll get one added (when ideally you'd want 2 or more), you're liable to revert the item to a powerless piece of scrap.
So all in all? Yeah, no. Skip it. Play Diablo, Diablo 2, Diablo 3 (yes, Diablo 3), Titan Quest, Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, the Van Helsing games, and any other action-RPG before you think about this one. And especially Torchlight. Because it's literally the exact same game but better in every conceivable way.
That being said, I am still going to check out the other Fate games and see if they're... fated... for better reviews. Heh. Haha... *cough*