I always loved the idea of wizardry and witchcraft in games. From alchemy to summoning stuff, there are a lot of ideas and concepts that games could explore, and hence, it was to no surprise that I was excited about Serin Fate – a game that kind of combines the ideas of witchcraft with Pokémon and also some Stardew Valley. At least, I thought that that’s what I’m getting into… but Serin Fate is more unique than that, despite its heavy inspirations. The story focuses on a world full of monsters and magic. Every five years, the Serin Stone – a mystical artefact from an ancient legend – chooses new witches among multiple disciples that come to the ceremony. As a result, many arrived there this time around – even those with sinister intentions. Long story short, an evil Necromancer abuses the stone to unleash its power unto the world and to fill it with darkness, so we quickly have to evacuate and train up in order to save the world!
Developer: Vethergen Publisher: Crytivo Genre: Adventure, RPG, Creature Collector, Open World, Farming Sim Release Date: August 25th, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy was provided by the publisher.
Step into the role of a witch (gender-neutral term?) and explore a tree-house that you’re given right from the get-go, make friends, capture monsters, train up, grind a lot, craft items, and explore the world! Serin Fate doesn’t actually force you to save the world or anything. Yes, you’ll inevitably have to make some progress in the story but in theory, you can just play this like some kind of farming sim. A big difference to other farming games, though, is that this one heavily relies on magic. Certain resources cannot be gathered without certain spells. Spells consist of different runes that you need to cast in a certain order, which was quite interesting. These spells can mine harder rocks or chop down big trees, yielding resources you can use for crafting and selling. The idea behind this is that you gather up experience in combat, harvesting, witchery, and necromancy so that you can eventually become strong enough to venture into the world out there…
And well, venturing out is actually quite hard. You need to get stronger or craft better items. The game relies less on intense fighting mechanics and strategy and more on you being relatively strong and you kiting well – at least early on. The game actually also has a perma-death/hardcore mode that you can activate, a mechanic that was unexpected to me. I found the difficulty of combat somewhat troubling. Quite early on, you face monsters like skeletons and zombies that are incredibly tough and deal a lot of damage if you’re out at night. Hence, you’ll need to grind your way up to a certain level to beat those or you only explore during the day. Combat itself consists of your familiars attacking with powerful spells while you dodge around and try to not get hit. In a way, this reminded me of Adore where you also can’t really attack yourself. Obviously, in Adore, you’re somewhat helpless and here you have to attack to generate AP for your familiars… and you can also cast spells on enemies or enhance your normal attack using mana but mana is limited.
In a way, everything relies on mana and that’s one of the core flaws of Serin Fate. I don’t personally mind the grind for the game itself, as in the farming and witchery exp taking a lot of time, or you having to slay a lot of monsters in late-game… Mostly, because I can take my time and make friends with NPCs, grow a beautiful garden, and do that sort of stuff while also slaying some monsters here and there. The core gameplay flaw that I’m hinting at is the mana system here. You don’t really have a lot of it and the spells you cast to mine resources or to catch monsters can drain it quite quickly. Meanwhile, you can only replenish mana by going to sleep and catching shooting stars in your dreams, which is quite tedious, or by consuming items like a Mana Potion or Flower Petals. That design flaw makes it incredibly grindy. You may want to explore a bit but you’ve got to prepare for the inevitable case of you not having any mana left, so you stock up on a lot of items and… it kind of removes the fun out of the equation for exploring an area since you’ll need to grind for that… and it’s hard to determine how strong you have to be until you die and it can get a bit frustrating.
Still, it’s not like the developer doesn’t warn you. The game looks adorable and chill and has a cool art style and music… the game’s store page has a huge “danger alert” to it that says that the game is difficult and requires a “hefty grind” but while I like that the developer is warning you, I don’t like the “it’s supposed to be hard and very grindy, don’t play it if you don’t like it” attitude. I’d love to have more accessibility settings like a difficulty rating that you can turn down or turn up that decreases or increases the grind and the difficulty of combat. I’d love to see stuff like that, especially because of how inclusive the game seems to be. There are also other flaws in the game like with the monster-taming/training aspect, for instance, that isn’t explained at all and that doesn’t fit into the game all that well… Similarly, carelessly investing points into some early levels may result in a lot of regrets when you reach higher levels and end up not having nearly enough points to get those high-level skills…
But I also had a lot of fun. So, I personally like the game but if you don’t enjoy grinding a lot in a game, then this may not be the game for you. Similarly, if difficult combat isn’t your cup of tea, this may also not be the game for you. Still, the fact that you can challenge yourself and (worst case) restart the game while also skipping all of the tutorials and intro things… is nice. I like touches like that that encourage you to try out different races or different starting scenarios. I played as a Val (anthropomorphic animal race?) at first and enjoyed it but I may try out a Human or a Serin character later on. I’d also like to try out swords instead of wands and choose a different attunement. Potentially, the game could offer a lot of min-maxing as well, which is something I like. Overall, I’m recommending Serin Fate because I personally enjoyed it quite a bit but it has its flaws… it’s not a perfect game and gets quite difficult and grindy… Don’t buy if you’re not prepared for that.