By Conor Bailey
There is a certain appeal to world building games that you can’t help but be drawn to, thanks to the elements of escapism and creativity they provide.
The more time you invest in building a landscape you enjoy, the more you seem willing to do anything to expand and preserve what you have created. Fate Tectonics is such a game that allows you to create your own little plain of existence and keeps it fresh by introducing moody deities who either help or hinder you.
Created by Golden Gear Games, Fate Tectonics has the player assume the role of the “Maker”. An accurate title, it’s your objective to try and create as much of a world as possible with the seemingly unlimited canvas that is given to you. Although certainly requiring creative thinking towards your worlds’ conception, there is an added puzzle element to the game. As you place tiles to build your world, it is suggested you match each tile to another, so grassland to grassland, water to other water tiles, and so on. Simplistic as it sounds, when you do have a large area of land, it can get rather challenging to find a place for a tile to fit, and that only increases the satisfaction when you find a solution. If you’re feeling rebellious and you want to put a bit of water in the middle of a massive forest, then you can do that. But be warned, since it doesn’t connect properly, it will create a nasty looking fissure into your world and you don’t want that! Carry this on, and potentially sections of your world will come crashing down, which is not fun to watch after you’ve spent a while building it.
When one thinks of world-building games, or at least games that advocate player expansion, games like Sid Meier’s Civilization come to mind, and there are similar mechanics Fate Tectonics inherit from this genre. However, merit should be given to the game for combining creative expansionism with logic; you always need to be thinking about what your next move should be. This strategic spin on a world-building game gives Fate Tectonics an added challenge many people won’t expect.
The main stars of the game are the Fates: god-like beings who help you create your perfect world… or help muck it up if you ignore their wants for too long. Each Fate has a certain domain, each with different tiles for you to build with. The first Fate, Penelope, helps guide you with building grassland, towns and ports. The more tiles you successfully connect, the more Fates you unlock, and the more tiles you have to play with. As your world becomes bigger however, some of the Fates may start to feel that their interests are not being accounted for. Say you have a plentiful green world, filled with grassland and forests, but not much in terms of lakes or seas. The water Fate, in a fit of rage due to the lack of water tiles, then decides it would be a good idea to flood a large area of land, sinking several towns and cities. Penelope is now angry, thus decides to industrialise several forests, and that has ticked off the forest Fate, and you feel like a bad, bad maker. It’s this kind of domino effect which makes the game engaging; it makes you think on your feet when the serenity you created comes crashing down. Part of the game’s charm is trying to rebuild after a disaster, although it may seem frustrating at the time.
The game itself is split into two main modes, Story and Serenity. Serenity mode is designed for players who simply want to build and see all the Fates in action. It’s a good chance to practice using the mechanics, which at first can feel a little awkward to control, as well as get an idea about what tiles fit each other. This mode is a nice opportunity to ease into playing the game, and will give you challenges you would not have expected.
Story mode is a bit different in that it introduces another Fate into the mix, the aptly named Ragnarosa. Just when are you getting into the swing of things in your new world, a timer pops up indicating how much time is left before the literal doomsday comes crashing down. Ultimately, you need to try and create as much as you can before Ragnarosa appears. Although this is a good concept for a story mode, it feels quite rushed; there is a missed opportunity to focus attention on the Fates, and actually grow an attachment to them.
A downside to the game for me is the lack of any multiplayer option. With the destruction element heavy in the game, this would have been a good chance to get some co-op in, or even a joint build mode. Fate Tectonics offers a very good single-player experience, but I cannot help but feel a multiplayer option would add another level of enjoyment to the game.
Aside from this, the game has got a very fun and quirky look to it; going for a mythic, pseudo-roman vibe. The music deserves some credit as it really adds to the playing experience, as does the art design; each Fate has their own well thought-out personality and style, making them easy to differentiate between.
Fate Tectonics is a very, very fun game if you’re into world builders. The puzzle element takes the tedium out of playing and actively makes the player think about their moves, creating an enjoyable experience. If you are up for a challenging scenario, Story mode is there for you, however Serenity provides enough enjoyment for you to invest hours of your time into. It’s a shame that you can’t share the experience in multiplayer, but it is a great game with tons of content for solo players. If you like a game that is challenging, inventive and creative, then Fate Tectonics might be for you.