PSX Mania – 023 – Threads of Fate (2000)

Completion time: 21:25:00

Threads of Fate is a game I’ve always wanted to play, but just never had the right time or opportunity to in the past. But thanks to our good friend The Dali Popka (please check out his YouTube channel where he hosts Viridian Flashback – a review and collectors guide to the OG Xbox – super awesome and very enjoyable content), his recommendation of playing Threads of Fate, as well as his video on it, I felt that it should be expedited ahead and played much sooner than planned. Originally I had planned on playing through just one characters story, but between The Dali Popka’s recommendation, as well as just the sheer curiosity I gained with what the second character was up to during portions of the game, I decided to go ahead and get a completion of both characters done, and I’m glad I did (though it was a bit taxing at the halfway point of the second go). Threads of Fate is another fine example of why I wanted to do this project.

Playing through both characters storylines provided the thorough insight that is needed to fully appreciate the entire journey. I chose Rue as my first, and initially, only playthrough, and the dialog was charming, with plenty of hilarious moments. It did paint Mint out to be a total bitch though, something that wasn’t alleviated when I played through her story, however I did grow to appreciate her a bit more at least. Rue’s playthrough was north of 11 hours, and Mint’s was a couple of hours less.

Threads of Fate is sold heavily upon said storyline, so much so that the gameplay takes a backseat. There’s so much dialog in the game, that it feels like it’s 70% exposition/30% gameplay. If the storyline weren’t so endearing, this would be a major sticking point. The gameplay its self is rather simplistic on the whole. You do have the too infrequent moments with Rue where his transformation into an enemy he defeated helps get him past an area, something that I wish was expanded on more than it was. Mint’s magic is serviceable, and the contrasting styles between them aids in giving each character enough diversity in gameplay, and how they each approach situations. It did become a bit of a slog playing a second time through, with what felt like 80% of the dialog being the same as Rue’s playthrough. I was skipping through most of the non-Mint portions of dialog at the halfway mark.

The audio and video presentation of Threads of Fate goes hand in hand with the charming storyline. It’s a beautifully colored world with solid character models, and a soundtrack that’s very well put together. It reminds me a bit of Chrono Cross with how well colors were utilized throughout the game.

There’s a couple of sticking points to this all, however. One has to do with how obtuse some of these puzzles can be to solve. Mint’s minecart area was particularly head-scratching, as I more or less got through it guessing. The boss at the end of said area was maddening, due to the ease of falling off the raft, and the patience you need to finally get a moment to attack its weak spot.

But by far the biggest frustration came from platforming. I kid you not, each time I had to do this, I must have dropped dozens of f-bombs trying to beat it. There’s a few factors to the poor platforming – for one, when doing jumps at an mostly overhead perspective, there’s zero depth perception to help judge your jumps. Then there’s the bit of a slide on your landing when you use the analog stick, no matter how you try to land. Trying to jump with digital controls proved too rigid and even more unreliable. Finally there’s the fact that initiating an attack while mid air ends your forward momentum. Areas where there’s enemies that you need to hit before/as you jump, prove to be aggravating beyond hell, although slowing your roll and utilizing whatever ranged powers Rue or Mint currently possess, does help out tremendously.

What’s crazy is that a game like Silent Bomber, I couldn’t forgive the two areas that completely tarnished the game for me. It was a magnificent title, but those two stages all but killed the experience for me. With Threads of Fate however, the platforming woes weren’t as severe an impact as they could have been. What sells the experience the most is a wonderful story seen through the eyes of two very different people. While I would have appreciated more gameplay overall (and maybe a couple more hours in length, although as is it’s fine enough) this was more about the story being told, and less about playing things through. Don’t get me wrong – the platforming is atrocious as hell, but having such a charming storyline, hilarious dialog and memorable characters, that more than outweighed the bad.

Threads of Fate is a rather unique experience. There really hasn’t been anything like it within the genre before it, or since. If you want to try something new, with a heavy emphasis on exposition delivery and less on actual gameplay (and have patience for the platforming and a couple boss fights), give this one a go. It ranks up there with Klonoa: Door to Phantomile as one of my new favorite discoveries on the system. It’ll be more than worth your time, just know what you’ll be getting into.

Rating: 8

Twitch VOD:
Part 1/4:
Part 2/4:
Part 3.1/4:
Part 3.2/4:
Part 3.3/4:
Part 4/4:

YouTube video:


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