If you’re in your teens or beyond, chances are you’ve probably found yourself falling head over heels in love with someone at least once in your life. We all know the feeling: you see a stunning stranger out of the corner of your eye, someone who you’re absolutely sure is way out of your league, but your eyes lock, and they smile at you, and all of a sudden the idea of striking up a conversation becomes a very real, albeit very scary, possibility. Your hands start to feel sweaty, your stomach turns into a miniature, biological rollercoaster, and your brain plays out a million different scenarios at light-speed.
Half Past Fate, a rom-com adventure title from developer Serenity Forge, throws you head first into this kind of scenario. Following the lives of six characters as they chase their very own ‘quest for love’, the game is an endearing look into how it might actually feel to be face-to-face with the potential love of your life. It may feel a bit overly idyllic at times, but it often nails the dialogue and quite frankly looks absolutely gorgeous to boot.
The game is split into chapters, each of which consists of a single scene - rather like a vignette - focusing primarily on a single pair of the game’s handful of main characters. You’ll directly control one character, and the gameplay is largely an exercise in miniature fetch quests and dialogue options. Just the words ‘fetch quest’ may incite fear in some folk, but the mechanic is implemented quite nicely into the game. You’ll be collecting items, swapping them with NPCs, placing them within the environment, and more. It's very ‘gamey’, in a way, but simultaneously feels like a natural fit in the game's world.
You’ll genuinely want to explore every nook and cranny of the various environments too, because Half Past Fate looks stunning. It’s a perfect blend of 2D sprites and 3D environments, and everything from the character models to the tiny cups of coffee burst with personality - it’s one of the most beautiful pixel art games we’ve seen in a good while. Similarly, the music is wonderfully upbeat, and the combination of this along with the colourful visuals make for an incredibly pleasant gaming experience.
Our only major complaint with the game is that it's often quite stubborn in pointing you in the right direction. The environments themselves are quite contained, so you won't ever be stuck for too long, but there were certainly multiple occasions in which we felt like we'd spoken to every NPC, investigated every possible avenue of exploration, and yet we still couldn't quite figure out what to do to progress the story. Of course, the solution is always there, but often felt rather hidden away; some kind of subtle hint system would have gone a long way in assisting with this.