Social distancing makes a lot of people feel isolated right now, but remember, it’s only temporary. How long temporary is anyone’s guess, but for those longing for interaction and… romance, they (and you) can enjoy in a cup of Half Past Fate on the Switch.
Yeah, I get it, it’s not a solution to your problem, but it’s a lovely little distraction and can remind you how great and gooey people can be. Half Past Fate isn’t a puke-fest, but it does have a romantic theme where you play the interfering friend who sets up couples. Invisible interfering friend; you’re more on an observer, controlling whichever character is in play at the time.
There are three couples. Having paid attention in Maths, that works out to be six individuals, and Half Past Fate’s story is told over multiple timelines that are interwoven with one another. None of the characters directly know one another, but after a few drinks. Scratch that, there’s no alcohol involved in this game, just tea. Lots of tea.
Putting The Tea In Party
Beginning with Rinden, that’s a made-up name, you go through the motions of jumping the queue at a coffee shop as he fancies the barista there and attempting to strike up a conversation. The challenge is literally talking to each NPC consecutively to ask them to move, only venturing outside of the building to pick up one item.
Half Past Fate is a character-driven narrative that makes you feel as warm as the fancy coffee, and later tea, served in the game. It won’t have you gushing at the witty or profound dialogue, but it’s a nice distraction piece by finding interest in the mundane.
When you complete each segment of time, separated into a total of 12 chapters, the timeline shifts and you take control of another character, whether the point in time is a few days ago or some years back. It seems fragmented at first, but stick with it, and it all makes sense.
They Call You Mr Personality
Of the three couples, the first chapter featuring Rinden then later Mara, is probably the least exciting and superficial relationship. Forget those fools. By far the best pair is Ana and Jaren. Ana is a tea expert who meets Jaren at a tea festival. I can see you roll your eyes from the malware that broadcasts your webcam, but fear not – it isn’t as bent as it sounds.
Jaren is an overweight comic-book guy with a penchant for gaming, so he’s bound to be a hit. Likewise, Ana is a patient girl who ignores his buffoonery and love of energy drinks and sees the good in him. He’s a bit of a goon, but he’s a good guy, and equally, she’s lovely too. Awwww.
The final couple seem a little disjointed at first, as when we’re introduced to them in the third chapter in the story, Milo is already involved in a relationship, and Bia is too good a person to break them up. In this introduction to both characters, it does seem a little bit fruitless to proceed, and you go through the motions, but it pays off eventually.
Pretty Moving Pictures
If you were to say that the lovely developing people at Serenity Forge were previous children’s book illustrators, it wouldn’t be a surprise. The presentation is beautiful, with just the right colour temperature in every scene. Half Past Fate is shown from an elevated position as you look down on 2D folk that inhabit the 3D spaces, but the camera pans left to right when exploring the area.
Between dialogues, it’s very much like any visual novel with both parties appearing on screen with the text between them. There aren’t any dialogue choices to make, and there are times where you don’t seem to have any significance in what’s going on, so you skip the dialogue a few times. It’s not ideal, but you can catch up with the gist of things.
Unfortunately, though, the actual interaction ‘bits’ are fetch quests, running back and forth acting as an intermediary between characters. You collect items, but not in the conventional sense as there’s no inventory – it’s just completed in succession: pick up an item, go to the NPC and select the item. No combining flux capacitors with pyjamas, Half Past Fate is simples.
Tea Vs Coffee
I’m a tea person, but I like coffee too. There’s no plan to this heading, I ran out of ideas and just thought about what I learned from Half Past Fate. Tea and coffee are available in a variety of forms. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Wait, that’s coconuts. But seriously, what I did uncover is the game world is a pleasant place to be and the music, while repetitive, is a delight. Everything just feels nice.
Half Past Fate is the kind of game where, if you’re the type to play the Switch anywhere, wearing sandals and socks, you’ll likely to be playing this over a fancy coffee with your vinyl collecting comrades. But it’s not a niche market. I’m hard-as-nails and drink diesel, and I found the whole experience quite heartwarming. I didn’t play in a coffee shop, but in my pants on the sofa, and Half Past Fate was an enjoyable, but brief experience.
Though there’s 12 chapters and a good deal of text to read through, each episode won’t take you long, and I’d put money on it that you’d finish this in a few days with a couple of hours play each time. It’s a nice distraction piece, as stated before, and makes a change from a balls-out FPS or delivering packages to bunker-ridden holograms. But it won’t take long to finish, and then you’re back to the real world. At least until you play something else.