Up until now, my experience with the BIT.TRIP series has been limited to running through levels, dodging enemies and obstacles. BIT.TRIP FATE retains the old school look but places Commander Video in an on-rails shooter, blasting his way through hordes of enemies. The game has its fun elements, but can become repetitive quickly.
In FATE, the player moves through space on a rail that runs through the center of the screen, which is always scrolling to the right. The “a” and “d” buttons move forward or backwards on the rail, and the mouse cursor can be used to fire in any direction. It’s a simple concept that gains depth as the rail curves and juts up and down as enemy bullets are whizzing by. The game also supports the gamepad, but after trying both options I found it much easier with the recommended keyboard and mouse method.
Shooting enemies in FATE releases health orbs that snap to the rail for collection. Collecting orbs adds to the mode meter, and each new level attained add to the strength of Commander Video’s weapons. Taking enemy fire reduces his mode, until he hits the lowest level and dies. Moving through the levels I collected power-ups themed after characters like Super Meat Boy that changed the firing style of my weapon for a limited time. Firing is the only way to stay alive but it also greatly reduces movement speed, so knowing when to lay off the trigger is also important.
There are six levels in FATE, each one ending with a boss fight. Each one is several minutes long but it still makes for a fairly short game, and one that’s designed to be played again and again for higher scores. The problem I found was that when I died during a boss fight (which happened several times), that meant I had to repeat the entire level again, which quickly became tedious. It’s a natural part of the game design that I understand, but it was still boring having to play the same level over and over again to progress.
Visually the game shares the simple, blocky style of the other BIT.TRIP games. The enemy design is cool, especially the boss characters. The music sits in the background nicely, and sounds of enemies being shot almost seemed to blend in with it, as though they were part of it. My only complaint with the graphics was that the hit detection on enemy shots seemed inconsistent. At times when I was sure I had been hit nothing happened, and other times what I thought was a successful dodge registered as a hit.
BIT.TRIP FATE is best suited to shooter fans who enjoy the challenge of besting their high score by repeating the same levels multiple times. It does provide plenty of challenge, and even on the default difficulty I had my hands full simultaneously watching my character and firing reticle. While I had some fun, the repetition kept the game from really clicking with me, and at $10 there are fuller experiences to be had.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.