Fate of the World is a game that I’ve had my eye on for a while. It first came into my radar after one of my favourite web series, Extra Credits, mentioned it as a new, interesting game that you may not have heard of. Shortly after that, it went on sale on Steam, but I wasn’t really motivated to buy it (no available demo was a deal breaker).
Since then, it’s had a number of DLC released. Thankfully, it’s available now as an ‘ultimate edition’ with all the DLC included with the main game, which is what finally convinced me to give in and give it a try.
Fate of the World’s Plot: Save It, Duh!
The premise of Fate of the World is fairly simple: The world is in danger of royally getting itself screwed up by the evil trinity of fossil fuels, money, and man, and the solution was to set up a world government to help existing governments solve the problems.
As the player, you’re the president of this new power called GEO, and you hire agents in the countries of the world to help you achieve your goals. The goal can be as simple as surviving until a certain year without hitting any lose conditions, or it can be something a little more difficult and interesting, such as increasing the average life expectancy in Africa (which is the tutorial level, by the way). Or, you might be charged with seemingly impossible tasks, such as convincing the heavily industrial countries of the world to move away from fossil fuels and reduce their emissions so they don’t all cook.
All the available countries have nuances programmed in to determine how they act and what they think of you. This means that rich countries like America won’t see the point in your existence if you don’t pass policies that line their pockets with gold, poor countries like Africa will blame you for everything that’s going wrong in terms of employment and healthcare, and regions like the Middle East will constantly try to wage war. As missions go on, you’re put in control of more countries. Juggling all of them with their individual needs and problems is very challenging. This isn’t even going into the natural disasters that can ravage continents (“WHY DIDN’T YOU PREPARE FOR THIS RANDOM EVENT YOU MONSTROUS PRESIDENT OF EVIL?!”) or someone suddenly deciding that they’re not going to move away from using coal as their main fuel supply (“Re-new-able? Sounds like witchcraft to me”).
Gameplay: The Heart of the Cards
How the game is played is pretty interesting and simple too. Policies are made by playing cards from decks specific to each country, and the agents you hire represent how many cards you can play. Every card costs a certain amount of money per turn (five years) and lasts a certain amount of time depending on the card. New healthcare reform? That costs you money until you decide to deactivate the card. Declare martial law because they killed your agents again? That costs a fair bit, but you only have to do it once (unless they’re slow to learn, but more bullets fixes that).
To help with your goals, there’s a news feed in each territory that details what the country wants/needs and their opinion of you, along with a multitude of helpful graphs and charts. I can’t seem to shake the idea that the developers originally intended Fate of the World to be a board game like the Battlestar Galactica board game: a situation arises and can be solved by playing colour-specific cards face-down from each player, with some coming from a mix deck of random cards. Totals are added up to determine whether the situation is solved or has terrible consequences, and each player has certain perks, traits, and flaws to make things interesting (along with one player being an evil robot determined to kill everyone).
It could have worked in this game by having each player be in charge of a different region all with different interests that they want to pursue which could involve. For example, sabotaging policies made by GEO to get rid of the oil industry. However, it seems that Red Redemption either decided that no one would bother playing the board game or that it needed more specific numbers and charts so it got ported to the PC. It’s a pity that there isn’t a multiplayer mode like Battlestar’s, because you could have had some real fun accusing other players of being in the pockets of certain industries or secretly in cahoots with other countries who are being selfish rather than thinking of the greater good. All the charts and numbers are scientifically accurate, though, so that scores points in the ‘world simulation’ category.
I have to take issue with something in the game description, though: “Will you help the whole planet or will you be an agent of destruction?” Easy, help the whole planet. In the levels that I’ve played so far, you lose very quickly if you act like an evil genius and don’t care.
This only leads to your score being divided by ten.
Which leads me to my next point, that the levels take ages to finish. I was playing a level with the theme of “There’s money to be made in oil, so if we focus on oil, it will solve all our problems. OR WILL IT?!” which I was rather enjoying. I’d finally managed to get people to stop rioting, I’d pulled industries away from destroying themselves, and I’d improved worldwide economies and researched alternative energy sources to help everyone out.
At the end of the mission, I was feeling really quite pleased with myself that I was able to juggle everything so that the world was a better place. That’s when a big MISSION FAILED popped up on the screen. It turns out that India, a country I basically pulled away from the brink of war and restored industry to, didn’t quite have the desired level of population. So I lost. If I wanted to beat that mission and get a decent score, I’d have needed to play through around thirty minutes of scenarios, which I had just done.
A Few Missteps Mean a Lot
This absolutely killed my motivation to continue playing the game. There is a button you can press to see your current objectives, lose conditions, and bonus win conditions, but it’s just hanging out at the top of the screen all out of the way, and it’s easy to forget about whilst you’re managing your cards. I wouldn’t have minded that too much, but the objective was “Reach the year 2085,” and I would not have been so angry if the objective was “Reach the year 2085 with these goals.” I’d also have been fine if there was a list at the side of the screen keeping tabs on the lose conditions, such as having unemployment rates in red if they’re too low and having them turn green when they’re at the desired level. It’s worth noting that there is an easy mode you can turn on, which seems to make people like you a little more. I also think it makes the goals a bit easier to achieve. The downside is you lose out on score and achievements, and that doesn’t seem like a fair trade-off.
Are You a Bad Enough Dude to Buy This Game?
Overall, Fate of the World: Tipping Point is an interesting game in terms of mechanics, but, for me, the experience was killed by the long level time with no easy way to make sure you can beat the mission within the time limit. Whilst it’s kind of the point of the game, the educational aspect of everything gets pretty old for everyone who had to learn all this stuff in high school. And, like I said earlier, it has the niggling feeling of not really knowing what it wants to be: world simulator, educational tool, or card strategy game? It’s worth a look, but with no demo and the current price of £15 ($20), I can’t really say that everyone should go out to try it.