Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: September 22, 2000
It should be stated from the outset that Threads of Fate should not be judged by its cover. Those who do so will inevitably jump to the conclusion that the game represents a highly promising blend of action, role playing and compelling storyline all conveyed in fully 3D graphics reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. This comparison is mostly workable, though Square’s title has more emphasis on the action of combat than on role-playing and exploration. The game’s case promises “two entirely different storylines” filled with “challenging puzzles, unusual enemies and unknown dangers” but does so under somewhat false pretenses. Threads of Fate seems to bring the style of The Ocarina of Time to the PlayStation, and Square has worked very hard to maintain this illusion. Despite all of their efforts, though, the glamor fades when exposed to the harsh light of actual gameplay, and what is revealed is an action title with only the trappings of an RPG.
There are two main characters in Threads of Fate, each with their own history. Rue, an amnesiac with the mysterious ability to change form into monsters, begins his story in the care of a guardian, Claire, whom he treats as his sister. Domestic tranquility is quickly thrown into disarray as a vicious enemy known as “The Arm of Death” attacks Rue and brutally murders Claire. The other character, Mint, is an irresponsible crown princess who is democratically voted out of her inheritance. Enraged, she discovers that her younger, yet infinitely more mature and responsible sister, has been given the succession and vows revenge. At this point the storylines cross, as Rue and Mint both begin searching for an ancient artifact rumored to have incredible powers and designed by an ancient order of wizards called Aeons. Rue wishes to bring Claire back to life, while Mint seeks revenge and eventual world domination. As the stories intertwine, both Rue and Mint arrive at the small village of Carona searching for an Aeon relic rumored to be nearby. They aren’t alone in their quest, though, as the story quickly introduces villainous others who are also searching for the lost magical item.
Carona itself is a central hub location, essentially offering a selection of plot advancing tip offs and character upgrades that respectively begin and complete each small section of the story. Carona quickly establishes the basic convention for the level layout of Threads of Fate, as it contains examples of small confined spaces and wide open areas; both types can be found during the player’s explorations. Camera position is largely determined by practicality: Combat intensive arenas are usually viewed from the top down, while levels that involve a lot of jumping are displayed from the side. There is a wide variety of geography showcased in the level design, as Rue and Mint’s quests take them from jungles to ancient ruins and even to brilliantly colored pastel worlds. The expansive areas are made up of a series of smaller screen sizes with exit points leading to the next. The 3D engine allows the characters to move freely, and thus some levels are designed with vertical movement in mind, such as jumps into a steep canyon. Other levels have more of an arcade feel; at one point the player must navigate as the heroes are chased down a steep slope by a giant boulder, reminiscent of the opening of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Players choose between following either Rue or Mint in their respective quests. Unlike most games, however, Threads of Fate doesn’t simply replace one character with the other. The two heroes are both searching for the relic regardless of which one is controlled by the player, and thus Mint regularly appears in Rue’s storyline and vice versa. The story plays out similarly for each character in terms of physical events, the significant differences mostly occurring in the overall tone of the game as established by its protagonist. Mint is lighthearted and bubbly, while Rue is wracked with guilt and falls more into the vein of the silent hero of many of Square’s RPGs.