Monday, April 1, 2024

Revisiting: Fate: Gates of Dawn (1991)

Fate: Gates of Dawn
reLINE Software (developer and publisher)
Released in 1991 for the Amiga and Atari ST
It's hard to believe that it's been over seven years since I wrapped up Olaf Patzenhauer's epic Fate: Gates of Dawn. As longtime readers may recall, I left the game with an unfinished map, which has always gnawed at me. It was time to take a second pass and really get into the meat of this seminal title.
What unique encounters lurk within that white space? Time to find out.
Fate, as you may recall, is based on Alternate Reality: The City, a game with epic intentions but little follow-through. Fate follows through, offering considerations of hunger, thirst, disease, drunkenness, fatigue, and a host of other potential conditions, as well as effects of weather. Its cities are sprawling, with multiple entrances and exits, stores, and guilds. NPCs wander the streets and the player has about as many options for interacting with them as a person does in real life. 
Instead of entering a virtual reality created by aliens like in Alternate Reality, the main character in Fate actually travels across different dimensions. In Fate, players start off as Winwood, a young person who owns a record store in the 20th century. Winwood enjoys his job but feels tired from working long hours. One day, while taking a nap on his sofa, he starts having nightmares about an old sorcerer casting spells. When he wakes up, he realizes he's not on his sofa anymore but in a dirty room above a tavern. He puts on some medieval-style clothes he finds nearby and goes downstairs to the bar. By listening to the conversations of the people there, he figures out that he's in a different version of human history where magic is powerful and technology developed differently.
The main character is lost in the woods as the game begins.
Winwood leaves the tavern and narrowly escapes a massacre carried out by Thardan's henchmen. He learns that Thardan, the mage from his nightmare, is searching for a "traveler between worlds." Suspecting that he's the one being sought, Winwood hides in a tree for a day. Eventually, he approaches an old man exploring the inn's ruins. This man, Naristos, is a seasoned fighter who shelters Winwood for the night and provides some information. Naristos reveals that Thardan is indeed an evil wizard with an army of henchmen and monsters. Thardan likely brought Winwood to this world through a portal to use his knowledge of advanced technologies for his own gain. Naristos advises Winwood to keep moving and find allies who think like him. He then directs Winwood toward the nearby city of Larvin.
The game starts with Winwood alone in the forest, wearing everyday clothes and carrying a dagger, 6 water bottles, 4 lunch rations, and 1,355 coins. He has no instructions where to go, but if he searches for a while, he'll inevitably find a road leading to the nearby city of Larvin. Having played the game before, I had a map showing the locations of valuable pieces of equipment, so I decided to make a few pit stops before heading to the city.
No reason not to make use of prior intelligence.
Once in the city, I decided to try to fill out my party as quickly as possible. As the game goes on, you meet NPCs with much better statistics than the average denizen of the city, but until then, a party at half-strength dies more often than is necessary. The game takes an interesting approach to NPCs. The copious options in the right-hand menu bar include "Chat" and "Ask for." "Chat" takes you to a screen where you can insult, adulate (compliment, basically), enchant, curse, joke, brag, tell fibs, or just introduce yourself. "Ask for" gives you more substantive dialogue options like "Name," "Profession," "Hint," and "Being." Back on the main menu, you can also ask NPCs to join you. You have to find the right approach for each NPC, which depends a lot on their class. Fighting classes tend to look for blunt honesty while magic classes are more responsive to flattery. Thieves appreciate guile.
My attempt to persuade this young lady doesn't work.
As I wandered, I was reminded of the game's excellent approach to sound. It's rare to find one that puts sound effects before music, and even rarer to find one that offers no music at all. Instead, Patzenhauer introduced the chirping of birds, the patter of rain, howling winds, and footsteps. 
The City of Larvin. Many of these areas are inaccessible at the beginning of the game.
I leave you as I explore the grand city of Larvin. Between NPCs and random combats, I hope to have a fleshed-out, equipped party in a few hours. Then we'll see what new surprises the world has to offer!


  1. Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but your initial foray was a little lackadaisical, so looking forward to a more rigorous approach this time.

    Jryy cynlrq.

  2. Replies
    1. Why? This is one of the greatest crpgs. Unfortunate that I cannot tolerate the unresponsive UI. Honestly, crpgaddict has a lot of patience.

    2. AlphabeticalAnonymousApril 1, 2024 at 10:55 AM

      On the contrary, the interface is as near to perfection as has ever been achieved. It's just the the game world is a bit too small. (But it was 1991, so what can you expect?). That, and the game ends just as it's finally really hitting its stride.

  3. I call April fool's day

  4. Wow. Of all past games this was pretty low in my ranking of those I thought Chet was likely to revisit.

    Then I checked the date.

  5. Ha, you had me there for a few seconds.

    I'm wondering, though, if there *are* any complete annotated maps of the game out there. I was thinking that there was a German-language app out there somewhere with annotated maps that doesn't work well on modern Windows. I started working on a map myself in Grid Cartographer, but I didn't get very far and I'm not sure if I'll have the intestinal fortitude to continue, intriguing as this game is.

    1. In case you haven't checked it yet, there is a forum (mostly in German indeed) which I understand has a lot of stuff and information, including maps and even a "package" updated for more recent WHDLoad versions, too (2023), supposedly running under Win10, but admittedly haven't dug deeper.

    2. Sweet! Thanks for the link. I feel like I came across this site before at some point, but it was mostly dead links to posts that were either archived and moved to another address or deleted entirely... something like that anyway.

  6. Seven years and even the memory of opening up your last entry and seeing the "final battle" with Thardan being a cutscene with boob lasers still makes me want to cry.

  7. You forgot to update the current&upcoming list. :P

  8. Hehe, nicely done.

    You probably were too modest to mention you are of course replaying it on era-appropriate original hardware to also authentically relive the loading times people experienced back in the day, after your much too rushed initial playthrough ;-).

  9. Finally! I see you started to really appreciate this gem for what it's worth. Next revisit will be Bard's Tale 3 I'm sure.

    Unccl Ncevy gb lbh, gbb.

  10. "YaY!"

    I say, falling so hard for this that I spray my other ankle, the sane one

    "The adventures of Winwood, the mightiest chartographer of them all are back on the menĂº"

  11. Oh, awesome! I had asked for this!

  12. Nicely played... but you are committed now! We want the white gone! The white out? Agghhh... my eyes are burned out!

  13. I totally swallowed this. Funnily enough I've been thinking about Fate a lot while reading the NetHack playthrough. I'm a little bit sad now.

  14. AlphabeticalAnonymousApril 1, 2024 at 7:58 AM

    Had to chuckle.

    Unless this was all meant in earnest, in which case: Morganna help us all.

  15. "I ain't never not playing Fate or Nethack 3 ever again.* I'm done. I put in my time. That's it. -hand starts reaching for winuae and graph paper- You bastards! You dirty bastards! GIVE ME BACK MY HAND!"

    * this is exactly how addict speaks.

  16. Hahaha, this is really good. :)

  17. Aw man, I was actually going to enjoy this.

  18. Is it finally time for the darkest stain on this gaming cartography blog to be fixed? I look forward to seeing the full map!

  19. This was really good. For a moment I thought your addiction to maps had finally won...

  20. You jest, but you did just revisit NetHack (new version I know) which you spent almost the same hours on...

  21. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of the unique hidden encounters that are carefully placed throughout the world of Fate as rewards for the thorough explorer. Perhaps you'll find some fascinating, appealing NPCs with worthwhile sidequests to pursue!

  22. this game big map does not impress me since it is mostly low effort filler, with the blobber first person point of view and abstract graphics there is no need to even design a landscape, just copy paste the same squares until you get a big map. It's just Daggerfall again but worse somehow.


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