Fate: Gates of Dawn logo

The mixing of role-playing games and computers has been cited as the best move for both. Is it just a marriage of convenience, and will it end in divorce? Could it all be down to Fate?

Computer dungeoneering has come some way over the past few years - the superlative Dungeon Master starting a somewhat astonishing revival with a simple to use, but more than effective user interface, excellent audiovisuals and an atmosphere which gave the player the feeling of actually wandering around a dark, murky dungeon, casting spells and slaughtering all sorts of demonic hellspawn.

SSI's 'sequel' the AD&D-based and Eye of the Beholder (and its upcoming sequel, Legend of Darkmoon) also used the same style of play, but improving on the feel somewhat - the argument still rages between DM and EOTB fans about which of the two is the superior.

Other software houses have tried to jump on the bandwagon, some coming close, but just missing the mark (with the likes of Galdregon's Domain springing to mind) whereas others have shot totally wide, releasing titles (mention no names!) that are enjoyable for all of five minutes before the hand reaches for the OFF switch. Now Swiss software house reline have entered the fray, but how will Gates of Dawn compare to the big guns of the FRPG genre?

A nightmare on Fifth Street
The game revolves around a guy by the name of Winwood, the proud owner of a not-overly-successful record shop on Fifth Street. One afternoon, feeling little tired and under the weather, Winwood decides to take a small map, but ends up being catapulted into an alternative earth by a rather nasty piece of work by the name of Thardan.
This twisted mage knows that our hero is the only one who can put paid to his evil schemes, and so has dragged him into this world where magic rules in order to bump him off.

Something went wrong somewhere, and instead of ending up in chains of Thardan's dungeons, Winwood ends up a free, but totally bewildered man, now fighting to save his life and end Thardan's reign once and for all. All the while, Thardan's henchmen will be dong their diabolical utmost to remove Winwood's head from its rightful place atop his shoulders! OK, so much for the scenario, how does the game itself play?

The game area itself is seen from Winwood's point of view (à laDungeon Master et al), with the obligatory compass directions (forward, turn left/right, step left/right, turn around 180 degrees) enabling Winwood to get from A to B, with additional options appearing should Winwood encounter one of the world's many occupants.
Some will actually stop and talk to you (although more often than not the player has to make the first move by instigating a conversation), others will just try and remove you from the picture altogether, so procuring a weapon somewhere of the 'people' you come across can be coerced into joining the quest, should proper motivation be provided - some may need a touch more motivation than others!

The player can have up to four parties of seven individual characters. Each character has various attributes, including hit points (obviously how many hits a character can take before he/she dies), magepoints (how many spells a mage can cast before they need to rest), strength, stamina, skill, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, charisma and experience.

While one party of adventurers is in use, however, the other three groups are inactive, and don't get involved in combat or encounters - however, all groups suffer from hunger and tiredness, and must be dealt with accordingly. If one party gains in experience, all the groups profit from it, but if one group commits a crime, such as needlessly slaughtering innocent bystanders, then all the parties will be tarred with the same brush! Simple - I think...


You're confonted with slavering beasties determined on turning you into a large doner kebab.

We're on a road to nowhere
Unfortunately, Fate: Gates of Dawn is another of those in the category of 'just missed the mark' as far as this style of game is concerned. Graphically, it's all a touch ragged arund the edges, compared to the visuals of, say, Eye of the Beholder (which doesn't help the overall atmosphere of the game), and the myriad of characters the player comes across during the course of play are poorly drawn and somewhat deformed.
Sonics are somewhat limited, depending on how much memory the machine you're running the game on has - a bog-standard A500 will remain almost silent for the vast majority of time, but an upgraded machine will blast out the odd sample here or there, but nothing too impressive.

The main problem with Fate: Gates of Dawn lies in the playability - it's all too frustrating to get anywhere from scratch, this is because mapping the massive wooded area where Winwood starts from is nigh-on impossible. Also, the option presented upon an encounter seem to be copious enough, but most of them are particularly ineffective at getting the results you want.

The overall control of the characters is sluggish at the best of times, and when you're confronted with half-a-dozen slavering beasties determined on turning you into something resembling a large doner kebab (with chilli sauce), the game doesn't react to player choices quickly enough to be of much use.

Now, if you're under the impression that I don't like this game very much, you wouldn't be far wrong. Not that it's a total failure - far from it, but it's just that when you compare this to the ageing Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, Fate: Gates of Dawn just doesn't have the brass balls to join the same league as the aforementioned classics.

In all honesty, you'd be better off leaving this on the shelf, and saving your money for Legend of Darkmoon: a far more classic and entertaining product. Nice try, reline, but no cigar.


Fate: Gates of Dawn logo Amiga Joker Hit

Nein, dies ist nicht der offizielle Nachfolger zu "Legend of Faerghail". Trotzdem ist reLINEs neues Fantasy-Adventure eines der interessantesten Rollenspiele seit langem - ein Game, das die ehrwürdige Konkurrenz noch das Fürchten lehren wird!

Veröffenlicht wird das Spiel wohl erst Anfang Mai, solange es müsst Ihr Euch leider noch gedulden. Für diesen Exclusiv-Test stand us eine Vorabversion zur Verfügung, bei der noch das Intro und die Routinen für die Harddisk-Installation fehlten. Darüber können wir euch also nichts erzählen zum "Rest" dafür umso mehr!

Winwood, der Held des Abenteuers, wird vom fiesen Magier Tardan in eine Parallelwelt entführt. Hier zittert jedermann vor dem alten Finsterling, denn der schikaniert Land und Leute mit seinen Zauberkräften. Dass Winwood ganz gerne wieder Richtung Heimat verdurften würde, ist klar - dass der Spieler ihm dabei helfen soll, sohl auch. Nun ist dies zwar die wichtigste, aber beileibe nicht die einzige Aufgabe, die es zu lösen gilt. Auf einer Insel begegnet Winwood z.B. einigen Feen, die das Verschwinden einer Kollegin beklagen - dreimal dürft Ihr raten, wer die wiederfinden soll! Desweiteren gibt es in diesem Abenteuerland so eine Art U-Bahn, die normalerweise von ganz speziellen Tieren am Laufen gehalten wird: dummerweise ist dieser "Ökomotor" ebenfalls abhanden gekommen. Natürlich hat Tardan wieder dran gedreht, und auch hier müss sich Winwood erwas einfallen lassen. Ausser, er will unbedingt den Rest des Games zu Fuss gehen...

Ganz lassen sich Fussmärsche ohnehin nicht vermeiden, sobald man auf eine Wasserstrasse stösst, kommt man aber ziel bequemer per Schiff voran. Dabei gilt es, auf die Windrichtung zu achten und die Segel entsprechend zu setzen - es gibt sogar so etwas wie einen Wetterbericht, der den Spieler über die vorherrschende Windrichtung informiert.

Die Gegenden die man auf der abenteurlichen Reise durchquert, sind nach dem Baukastenprinzip zusammengestelt: Es gibt Bäume, Büsche, Felsen und kleine Seen, die zu immer neuen Landschaften kombiniert werden (selbstverständlich kommen auch Städte, Meere und die obligatorischen Dungeons vor). Dass man unterwegs auf gefährliche Gegner trifft, wird wohl niemanden Überraschen. Es handelt sich dabei vornehmlich um gifiten Schlangen, Kraken oder bösartige räuber. Um den Unholden eins auf die Mütze zu geben, kann man entweder ein bisschen zaubern oder teilweise ganz verrückte Waffen benützen. Beispielsweise gibt es da ein langes Seil mit einem Saugnapf, das man auf entfernte Gegner schleudert, um sie näher heranzuziehen! Gekämpft wird auf dem Hauptbildschirm, einen speziellen Kampfscreen gibt es nicht. Die Angreifer werden dabei perspektivisch richtig dargestellt, dass heisst, je näher ein Feind heranrückt, umso grösser erscheint er auch im Sichtfenster.

Viele Gegner greifen Gruppen an, aber nicht nur deshalb sollte man dem guten Winwood schon bald ein paar Begleiter zur Seite stellen - manche Probleme wind nur zu lösem, wenn man mindestens zwei Parties hat! So haben einige Dungeons Schalter auf der Aussenseite, die von einer Gruppe betätigt werden müssen, während die andere drinnen am Kämpfen ist. Es können maximal vier Parties mit jeweils bis zu sieben Mitgliedern zusammengestellt werden, zwischen denen dann mit der Maus hin- und hergeschaltet wird. Insgesammt stehen ca. 80 Charaktere bereit, die lle über eine eigene Portraitgrafik verfügen und hübsch animiert sind. Es versteht sich von selbst, dass man seine Leute gut behandeln muss, wenn man sie in Krisensituationen nicht verlieren will: sie brauchen zu essen und zu trinken, einige der Burschen zieht es sogar recht häufig in die Kneipe. Kleine Skalen am Bildrand geben Auskunft darüber, wie es um die einzelnen Figuren gerade steht.

Alle Charaktere haben ihr Eigenleben, sie verändern ihre Eigenschaften im Spielverlauf, was gelegentlich bemerkenswerte Auswirkungen hat: Ist beispielsweise eine alte Hexe mit von der Partie, die aus Versehen in einen Jungbrunnen fällt zieht die Gruppe anschliessend mit einem hübschen jungen Mädchen weiter! Man kann aber auch erleben, dass sich eine zaghafte Heilerin zuertst weigert, einen dunklen Gang zu betreten - schickt man einen mutigen Krieger vor, trippelt sie plötzlich (wenn auch zögernd) hinterher.

Besonders schön ist, dass es bei Gates of Dawn nicht so sehr darum geht, möglichst alles abzuschlachten, was über den Weg läuft. Natürlich kriegt man auch hier Erfahrungspunkte für das Killen von Monstern, wenn man dagegen unbescholtene Bürger niedermetzelt, gibt es einen Punktabzug. Wer sich wie ein Berserker aufführt, muss sogar damit rechnen, dass die Bewohner des Landes bald Jagd auf ihn machen! Erfahrungspunkte lassen sich aber auch sammeln, indem sienen Gesprächspartnern wichtige Informationen entlockt. Die Konversationsmöglichkeiten sind denn auch recht vielseitig: Man kann sich eindfach ein bisschen unterhalten, sein gegenüber gezielt ausfragen oder richtiggehend losbrüllen!

Gates of Dawn ist ein bis ins Detail ausgeklügeltes, sehr komplexes Rollenspiel mit reichlich Aktionsmöglichkeiten, ansprechender Grafik und atmosphärisch stimmiger Geräuschkulisse (Grillen zirpen, Vögel zwitschern, das Wasser plätschert, und der Wind rauscht durch die Baumwipfel). Aufgrund der schwierigen Rätsel ist es aber in erster Linie für erfahrene Krieger & Magier geeignet. Zu Beginn werden zwar auch Einsteiger damit zurecht kommen, weil man anfangs nur auf relativ wenige und harmlose Gegner trifft - im weiteren Verlauf wird's aber wirklich haarig. Wer jedoch vor harten Kopfnüssen, grimmige Monstern und einer Spieldauer von einigen Monaten nicht zurückschreckt, wird von diesem Game kaum noch loszueisen sein! (C. Borgmeier)


Fate: Gates of Dawn logo

It seems we are in another "Urgh - looks a bit complicated and boring. Jonathan? Jonathan (Heh heh" situation, so here I am once again valiantly trying to feign interest in a genre which would reduce lesser reviewers to jelly. Fortunately, toughed by years of this sort of abuse, my skills are such that for the next few hundred words only the trained eye could tell me apart from a genuine role-playing game fan.

Fate - Gates Of Dawn is a role-playing game. If the title does not tell you that much, the lists of numbers in the back of the manual certainly will. What is more, it does little to cover up the fact presentation-wise. You have got your standard Dungeon Master 3D window showing the view ahead. Then there are the usual boxes containing your characters' faces, which can be clicked on to swap between them. At the bottom of the screen is a text window where messages occasionally appear, although they tend to scroll off again before you get a chance to read them. And to round it all off there is the familiar set of arrows which are clicked on to move your party around.

The plot will hardly come as a revelation, either. Once again you find yourself charged with the task of defeating the Lord of Darkness (or someone), but with no suggestion as to how you are meant to set about it. For some reason, though, you fell that the best way might be to roam the land recruiting new party members, hacking baddies to bits, collecting treasure and solving puzzles, so that is just what you do.

For a change, however, you are not trapped in a dungeon with a sealed door behind you. Instead, you find yourself wandering around a forest, depicted by some tasty 3D graphics. You will also notice some really quite tremendous sound effects, which keep you informed of everything from the weather to the presence of snakes in the grass or the approach of fellow beings. These usually turn out to be beggars or robbers, or perhaps wandering mages, but every so often you will bump into one of the most (if you will excuse the momentary loss of self-restraint) unbelievably horny women ever seen on the Amiga. I immediately set about recruiting a gang of Amazones, novice witches and priestesses, and together we set off in search of the cities that are the game's other main feature. There you will find pubs, inns, shops, temples and all sorts of other handy amenities.

The cities are linked by a series of paths and also a railway, and according to the instructions the transport system also stretches to ships (although I never came across any).

And that is about the size of it, really. Criticisms? The menus used to pick commands from are a bit on the small side, making it easy to pick the wrong one by mistake: it keeps flashing 'Disk Access' up on the screen every time it, erm, accesses the disk (which it frequently does); and the whole thing has got a resolutely two-dimensional feel to it (despite the 3D graphics). Apart from that it is an enjoyable role-playing romp, with a mammoth playing area, nice graphics, plenty of character to 'interact' with (if you know what I mean) and lots to do generally.
(There - had you fooled, eh?)


Fate: Gates of Dawn logo

The latest company to jump onto the RPG bandwagon are Swiss-based Linel with Fate - Gates of Dawn. The player takes the role of Winwood, a fifth avenue record story owner who, having fallen asleep after a particularly tiring day, awakes to find himself on a primitive alter-Earth.

Winwood's objective is to defeat the mage responsible and return to the mother planet. Although initially he's on his own, it's essential that others are recruited to aid his quest.

In terms of game play, Fate combines elements of Dungeon Master, Galdregon's Domain and Might and Magic, but it doesn't match up to any of these worthy games.
There are numerous options which allow Winwood to control and interact with his environment, most of which are only accessible in certain situations or locations.

My initial reaction to Fate was favourable; it has above average graphics, constant and atmospheric sound effects and a large playing area suggesting a game of some merit. Unfortunately, I was a little over-enthusiastic in my assessment. The woodland graphics make mappig extremely difficult, whilst the town graphics are totally unimaginative. Movement is slow, and the game control system is quirky. The large number of commands and menus appeared at first to offer a lot of scope for realism, but, in fact, they just overwhelmed me with seemingly ineffective choices. Definitely a case of try before you buy.