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Game Info:

Serin Fate
Developed By: Vethergen
Published By: Crytivo
Released: August 25, 2021
Available On: Windows
Genre: Adventure RPG
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Single-player
Price: $15.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Crytivo for sending us a review copy!

Serin Fate has just released, and it’s a title with an impressive credits list – a literal one-man team who goes by the name of Vethergen. Single-person developed games are often interesting, as it allows a singular vision to be implemented into the game from beginning to end. With nobody to answer to and no executives to get in the way, nothing has to be watered down or designed to appeal to a mainstream audience for the sake of profit. Serin Fate can certainly make that claim of presenting a singular vision.

As the game begins, you’re introduced to a fantasy world kept in balance by the Fate Stone, a magical artifact that keeps monsters in check and creates new witches every five years. You are among the young hopefuls in attendance, hoping to be numbered among the newest batch of witches. After you and a few others are chosen, the ceremony is interrupted by the villain Zixis, who shatters the Fate Stone in his attempt to seize its power for his own. This sets in motion the main questline to restore the Fate Stone. Beyond this, the game is quite vague in how to go about things, and promptly plonks you down into its systems. Even its tutorial questline is quite lacking.

Half the game plays like a farming simulator. You’ll clear your plot of land, set up your herb garden, and go mining for important minerals. With these resources, you can set up crafting stations to create a wider variety of farming tools, or craft some better weapons and other adventuring gear. Once you’ve got the hang of things and purchased or crafted a set of copper equipment, you’ll be ready to take on the storyline half in the local forest to advance the story. These action sections are essentially dungeons in varied environments, and you’ll be swinging your sword or staff repeatedly to defeat hordes of enemies in a manner reminiscent of the 2D Zelda games, and collecting herb samples to take back to the farm. As you explore the varied environments of the world you’ll also encounter Chimera, magical creatures you can capture and raise like livestock for more farming profits, or bring along on your adventures for a boost in combat.

Serin Fate
Highlights:

Strong Points: Various gameplay systems to interact with; relaxing soundtrack
Weak Points: Slow start to the game; lots of random little things feel slightly off
Moral Warnings: Monster killing; occasional crude language; significant use of occult imagery and use of necromantic rituals

Throughout the game you’ll also learn new spells to enhance your farming and combat abilities. Casting spells is done by reciting a sequence of base elements and choosing a target, and these are mostly focused on the farming side of the game. After clearing the forest, you’ll gain access to Necromancy, which is simply a set of passive combat-oriented bonuses that drain a second type of mana while toggled on. None of the bonuses amount to anything more than stat bonuses or stock-standard resistances however, so combat still comes across as very simplistic.

A quick gander at other coverage of Serin Fate paints it as Harry Potter meets Stardew Valley meets Zelda meets Pokemon, and while accurate, all these elements together might also be considered a double-edged sword. Here is where the game runs into marketing problems: the game’s Steam description loudly trumpets the game’s epic story and downplays the farming, but the pacing is sure to throw off anyone who picks it up for that. It’s true that each of the sandbox-type components are not as full-featured or as deep as the games they draw from, but it’s certainly a mistake to call them “sub features” because they do combine into an experience greater than the sum of its parts. The game is quite slow to begin with, and I found myself quite bored for a while as I followed along the tutorial questline, wondering when the game would inform me I was ready to try my hand at the first area. The game touts a 40+ hour main questline, but according to other players on the official Discord, that figure does not factor in the time spent on farming and grinding for the necessary equipment to complete it. The real number seems likely closer to 100 hours. Suffice it to say, I have not finished the game yet at time of writing, but I am about 30 hours into the game and have gotten over the slow start.

With that said, the game does suffer from the problems you might expect from a lone-developer game. Various things feel slightly off because that one developer cannot be an expert in all things. The most apparent example of this is the early game difficulty being quite steep, and the previously mentioned insufficient tutorials. Many items lack a sufficient explanation of their use, and the one available wiki is woefully inadequate. Story events are left vague. Small bugs pop up on occasion. Questionable interface interactions and minor control awkwardness persists. But most of all, in a very real sense, the elements that make Serin Fate engaging are the same elements that will turn off some players, because not everybody wants to play a mix of such disparate mechanics thrown together. Vethergen hasn’t been content to rest on his laurels either. The game has already seen a number of fixes since its release, and he is paying attention to player feedback.

The 16-bit style graphics very much evoke a SNES-era RPG. The bright palette speaks to an idyllic life living on the farm and making trips to a small town nearby. But again the double-edged nature of single-developer design comes into play. Some visuals (most notably puffs of smoke and character portraits) are a little too high in resolution and clearly 32-bit, clashing with the low resolution look that makes up the majority of the game. Another clash is the game billing itself as being quite difficult; usually when that happens, art directors desaturate colours and switch to a heavier use of grays to drive it home, but Serin Fate never even considers muting the colours to convey the difficulty.

Serin Fate
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay – 15/20
Graphics – 7/10
Sound – 7/10
Stability – 4/5
Controls – 4/5

Morality Score - 68%
Violence – 6/10
Language – 8/10
Sexual Content – 10/10
Occult/Supernatural – 0/10
Cultral/Moral/Ethical – 10/10

On the other side of the aesthetics, the sound effects are likewise on point yet not quite right. For example, all sword hits use the same wet slicing sound whether you’re hitting a fleshy or armoured enemy, just like a 16-bit game, but it has none of the grating crunchiness used by actual 16-bit games. The soundtrack is a different story, as it’s the only part that has been outsourced to an expert, and it’s so much better for it. The music is a perfect match for the idyllic farm life portrayed in the visuals, and it even sounds like a 16-bit song to boot.

With all the witchery afoot, there is of course bound to be moral concerns. Players are constantly killing monsters, goblins, ogres, dragons and various other creatures, and while there’s no blood or gore, they do occasionally drop eyeballs and bones. The occasional use of “damn” and “crap” pops up in character dialog.

If Serin Fate had done all its magic through its elemental spell system, it could pass as fairy tale type magic, and that would be that, but the Necromancy auras go much further. Players are taught to lay out bones and extract spirit energy from them as they sleep. The primary method of regaining necromantic energies involves visiting an evil church and sitting in prayer. Witches have historically been called “brides of Satan” and the occult imagery of this game brings that front and centre, sans the bits about fornicating with him.

Serin Fate touts a 40+ hour epic storyline, but much of that will involve running around lost and trying to figure out what to do. The disparate systems don’t always get along perfectly, but you won’t care when you’re neck deep in it and trying to figure out what goes where. If nothing else, this game is certainly a complete and singular vision that a larger studio would be hard pressed to replicate. And that’s perfectly fine – not every game has to fit so neatly into a single genre.

About the Author

Elvin Ong

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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