Dewprism.  Always.


   It's not hard to call Threads of Fate one of the best action-RPGs on the PlayStation, given how sparse the competition is. The real question is, how good of a game is it standing alone? The answer to that is a little complicated, as the game itself stands not alone but in two separate parts.

 Killer queen
One-track mind

   The presentation is top-notch. The PlayStation has seen better pure graphics, but almost nothing beats Threads of Fate for pure fluidity and smoothness. The simple textures and shading both bring out the cartoony look of the characters while making them just as bouncy as they ought to look. Everything is done in the sort of bright tones appropriate for this game, and each character has highly individualized movements and mannerisms.

   "Cartoony" would also be a good way to describe about half of the plot. What does "half the plot" mean? You see, Threads of Fate's main hook is that most ubiquitous of trends, the dual hero system. At the beginning of the game, you choose to play as either the virtuous Rue or the devilish Mint. Your choice will have an impact on several things, but primarily the storyline and the gameplay.

In order of appearance
Dual Heroes

   So these two must be discussed in halves. By far the weaker gameplay of the two belongs to Mint. Spell effects with the red-haired vixen are built around the now-familiar eight-spoked elemental wheel. Each element type has several "colors," or effects within the type, but almost all of it boils down to casting magic in a more or less linear fashion. The ability to cast projectiles in three dimensions is by now something that's mostly lost its charm, and it doesn't help that almost all of Mint's puzzles are built around hitting out-of-reach objects with a well-placed spell. Rue, on the other hand, has a much more interesting ability to fall back on. Rue has the power to transform into any monster he defeats, gaining both their strengths and weaknesses. (Boss monsters are excepted, of course.) It's in general more interesting to try out different animal forms and attacks than to get another tired elemental-themed spell.

 It's not a boat.
Pulsar Inferno Typhoon Omega Go!

   And if Rue's quest were more interesting, then all of Threads of Fate's quality would be front-loaded into half the game. Unfortunately, Rue's quest compares to Mint's as a playground slide compares to Space Mountain. Rue is the traditional heavy-hearted hero with a dark past; serious about everything, he's fun to control so long as you don't sleep through his story sequences. Then there's Mint, one of the most refreshing RPG "heroines" to come down the pike in quite some time; however amoral and vicious she gets, she's so button-cute and charming that you can't help but love her. The difference between the two plots are best summed up thus: Rue wants the ancient relic so he can save those dear to him and defeat the Arm of Death, while Mint's avowed goal is "World domination, baby!"

   What happens as a result of this mismatched gameplay and story is that neither character's story is that satisfying. One will sate your gameplay cravings, while the other will lead you through a thoroughly enjoyable and demented storyline. If the two had been distilled into one game, it would certainly rate higher, but it's hard to give Threads of Fate full marks when its own focus is so divided.

Review by Nich Maragos, GIA.
Dew Prism
Developer Square
Publisher Square EA
Genre Action RPG
Medium CD (1)
Platform PlayStation
Release Date  10.14.99
Legend of Mana demos revealed?
180 minty-fresh screenshots
Villainous portrait / 3 scenes
North American box art