Fateful End: True Case Files Review – Just Make it End

    Title: Fateful End: True Case Files
    Developer: Genuine
    Release Date: November 3, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Giiku Games
    Genre: Adventure Visual Novel

The idea of a game’s premise, asking to “solve your own murder,” can be a fantastic concept. So when I saw developer Genuine had those themes in their newest title, Fateful End: True Case Files, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking straight. Important pieces are missing in this title that makes it not work, such as the character needs actually to be dead or their death faked. Fateful End doesn’t capitalize on the theme it’s going for, which causes the entire experience to be disingenuous.

Fateful End: True Case Files is a puzzle adventure with elements of a true-crime story. Our protagonist Xiang can’t catch a break after he wakes up in a box in a shed, escapes, and, as he attempts to flee, is chased down and captured before being put back in the box. However, this time, the box is covered in cement and then dumped in the sea. Great start.

We then cut to some time before this event as Xiang is breaking into his girlfriend’s workplace to use her computer so he can forge some documents. In the middle of this, he receives a phone call from a former associate, one who cut and run with about $10,000 from their former job and says he wants Xiang’s help with a scheme he has cooked up to make a lot of money. As you would expect, it is very suspicious, and so Xiang may not want to sign up immediately. However, it seems one of the former associate’s new collaborators may be out to get Xiang; how will he survive?

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I wish he didn’t. Because wow, is Xiang one of the worst protagonists in an adventure game I have had the displeasure of being in the viewpoint of. He’s a shady man who’s introductory scene sets him up as an illegal importer of some sort. Actually, the story isn’t exactly clear on what he does except for the fact that it’s not legal, and it’s better if his girlfriend takes the fall if he gets caught.

He also does strange things like buys DVDs and reseals them so he can return them after watching. Also, he takes this incel approach when addressing any female character (of which there are two) with a response along the lines of, “ugh, women.” The title forces you to have an affair like this is a terrible soap opera, and the writers want us to care about him. We know they do because there’s a whole chapter dedicated to having a nightmare because the situation he’s in is so stressful that we should totally sympathize with him. In contrast, I just wanted him to get to the part where he dies, which doesn’t entirely happen.

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Visually, the game is rather interesting. It’s got a unique art style, and I quite like the designs for several characters. The backgrounds don’t really mesh with the characters that much, but I think they still look good. Sadly, the puzzles they’re in don’t use the environments well. It’s not clear what can and can’t be clicked on, so you click around wildly, hoping to get things.

There is a light bulb function that gives you hints and the answers to early puzzles to circumvent this. Sometimes though, it just doesn’t work, and other times the order in which you have to do things is a complete mess.

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This can almost be justified as like those old Sierra adventure games with the “So bad it’s good” approach, but some puzzles towards the end seem like they had next to no QA testing. These late-game puzzles can lock you into situations that force you to save scum, such as preventing you from leaving menus until you use an item you may not have grabbed or merged two items accidentally, resulting in a game over. Aside from Fateful End attempting to jump scare you with sudden loud noises, nothing happens within them either. These elements appear to be padding on the adventure than anything else.

The concept of discovering your own killer is also terribly executed. When you reach the part where you catch up with the story, you both don’t care and are told who dun it immediately afterward. Any reveals the game has that may have sounded good on paper are executed in-game with the tact of a man driving a car with the horn stuck blaring who keeps forgetting which pedal does what.

What twists Fateful End tries to bank on are said to you and add nothing to the overall depth aside from adding more length to the story. The choices do nothing but mark sudden game overs, and there’s a relationship tree you can access from the menu doing absolutely nothing. Speaking of the menu, the click and drag log is extremely slow and doesn’t record much text, and you only have sound options, with the game locked to full screen. At least the drop-down menu looks somewhat cool?

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Fateful End: True Case Files is a nonsensical title with nothing to do with what the game is about. It’s rarely fun, with only a couple of neat puzzles. Still, they often clash so heavily with the terrible attempt at telling an interesting story through forceful character development, that nothing ever pays off.

Apparently, there are plans for a sequel, too, because the ending is open-ended. While it was nice to take a breather and play through a game I hadn’t quite known about, Fateful End has nothing else going for it. Unless you want to support an indie Chinese developer, in which case go nuts.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter