Review: Adventure to Fate: A Quest to the Future09 Mar 2016 0
Adventure to Fate: Quest to the Future is the third installment of developer TouchMint's Adventure to Fate series. It’s a bite-sized dungeon-crawling JRPG with a focus on strategic combat and crafting. There’s a story in there, but it mostly serves as a vehicle for scenery changes. A text box at the beginning and end of each zone is pretty much all you get. That’s honestly fine by me; indie JRPGs can often be overly wordy and poorly written. The real draw of Quest to the Future is the battling.
The battle system in Quest to the Future checks all the boxes of a traditional JRPG. You and your pet take a turn, then the enemies. On your turn, you can attack, use a skill or consume a potion. Each action depletes your Stamina meter, and skills are also limited by your SP meter. Once the stamina runs out, your turn ends. Basic stuff. The fun comes from finding and exploiting synergies between your available skills and your different pets, and the game does a good job of making sure even early skills are fun and useful, so you don’t end up mindlessly mashing “attack” through every battle.
There are six classes to pick from at the start of the game, as well as four professions and three starting pets. My main character is an assassin, but I dabbled in a few other classes and found them pleasingly distinct. Your class determines what skills are available as you level up and which weight classes of weapons and armor you can use. Some of you may have rolled your eyes at the mention of pets, but it's really nothing to be concerned about. This isn't Pokémon. Your pet companion is your only other party member throughout the game, and you can swap them out with other pets that are hidden in each zone. Thankfully, they level up with your character, so any pets you find are instantly viable without any grinding necessary. Pets also can't be attacked, so you'll never have to worry about keeping them alive. They're basically just extra skill packs that you can swap out depending on your play style or the current situation.
The challenge level of Quest to the Future is well-tuned. Every time I hit what seemed to be a difficulty spike, the solution was to change my strategy or loadout instead of grinding away for a few levels. It can still feel like you’re grinding, though. The general lack of story means that your main goal becomes “getting to the next area” rather than advancing the story, and sometimes-confusing navigation and small map size make random encounters very noticeable. Quest to the Future is made up of many 5x5 grids of tiles. Movement is tile-based and each tile brings an opportunity for a random or pre-determined (sometimes you can see enemies) encounter. There’s an on-screen d-pad that feels unreliable--realizing that the center of the d-pad actually functions as a “search” button or whatever tile you’re in helps, but there’s still some wonkiness there--and screen exits are sometimes hard to find and can lead to disorienting transitions. Both factors lead to more travel time, which increases the chance of random encounters. It’s especially frustrating when you’ve teleported back to the shop at the start of the zone after using all your healing potions on the boss you just died to for the second time and have to trek all the way back to the end of the level. It happened to me and will probably happen to you. The easy solution for the navigation issues is to move by tapping adjacent tiles, but depending on the size of your device it can be uncomfortable to play one-handed, which is otherwise one of the game’s best strengths.
Another slowly-mounting frustration in the game is inventory management. It’s kind of a terrible experience, and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Here's a picture of the inventory screen (which takes two taps to access from the main play screen) from about halfway through the game:
Interaction with your inventory is modal, depending on which of those five buttons above your inventory are selected. Tapping on an item when info is selected will bring up a window with stats and (genuinely-useful) comparison info for equipment. The only option available on this menu is to close it, when half of the time the entire reason you'd want to know the stats of an item is to equip it! It's not that it isn't possible for the system to do more than one button in those pop-up windows either, because the crafting screens give the option to craft the item in addition to closing the window. All those extra taps add up, especially when managing potions.
Quest to the Future has a potions problem. There's simply too many of them. It feels like every other battle gives you a new stat-buffing potion. This doesn't seem like a problem until you discover that only one stat-buff potion can be used per battle. If you want to keep up with the potion intake, you've got to either equip and use another stat-buff potion for every fight or destroy them, which isn't especially useful if you didn't choose the potion-brewing profession at the start of the game. Equipping potions is much more of a pain than equipment because the game can't simply swap them. To free up a slot in your potion bar, you have to unequip or use it, but stat-buffs can't be used out of battle. There's a situation you could find yourself in where you would have to destroy something in your inventory just to free up a space to swap a potion. A simple drag-and-drop swap (or even tap-to-select swap) would fix the problem. And God help you if you want to change belts (which determines how many potion slots you have) when your inventory is nearly full. Oh and on top of all that, if there isn't enough room in your inventory for all of the post-battle loot (say, after a boss battle), it just disappears. The game does warn you when your inventory is nearly full, but that warning comes up so much that it's easy to ignore it. Lesson: keep at least five inventory slots open before a boss battle.
Despite the interface and inventory issues, I enjoyed my time with Adventure to Fate: Quest to the Future. There's reason to believe that some of these issues might be fixed, too: the developer has been active on our forums (and that other site's) engaging with players and responding to feedback. It's clear that this series is a passion project for TouchMint, and for me that goes a long way towards taking the edge off of most of the game's annoyances. I found it to be a great game to play on the CTA or while catching up on The Adventure Zone. If you're the kind of person who enjoys the battle systems of JRPGs but couldn't care less about the story, Quest to the Future is for you.
Adventure to Fate: Quest to the Future was played on an iPhone 6s for this review.