Fatum Betula – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Bryce Bucher
Publisher: Baltoro Games
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested On: Switch

Fatum Betula – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Great atmosphere
Bad: On the shorter side
User Score
8.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Experimental games with unique settings or just “quirky” ones are an always welcome breath of fresh air in the pool of samey standard games that come out every month. By setting out to do something of their own, these games take risks most others wouldn’t and, regardless of how successfully they pull it off, are always interesting experiences at the very least. Without further ado, we dig deeper into one of such games, Fatum Betula.

Story

Fatum Betula’s story revolves around the player’s unnamed character, currently stuck in an unknown location. After exploring a bit, a tree and a monster will soon enough be found, the latter of which will explain the unknown location is one and the same as the tree, whose roots are drinking the waters of limbo and forcing them to remain stuck between life and death.

Following this conversation, the monster will grant the player three vials with which to break the cycle, by providing the tree with a new source of food. From here on, the player will be left on their own to explore the world, their only task being to find new liquids with which to feed the tree and unlock different endings.

The game doesn’t really rely on a story, letting players sink into the atmosphere through the visuals and music of the game. This is also proven true by how the characters found throughout the game offer little more than a few sentences in order to set their goals and plans. Adding onto this, most of the game’s writing can be found during the ten different endings, played as videos in the old FMV style.

Graphics

Fatum Betula’s graphics are a direct throwback to the PS1 era, with strange vertices and misaligned textures. Although the game might not be the prettiest due to this, it does definitely manage to fulfill what it sets out to do, creating the ambiance of an old game with both the good and the bad included.

Throughout the game, several different areas can be found, each unique in its own right and most of them quite different from each other. Although the thematic changes from one to another may be massive at times, they more often than not still remain consistent with the weirdness of the game, only playing into the surreal atmosphere without diluting or breaking it.

Sound

The game’s sound design is quite good, especially so when referring to the soundtrack, which features a set of different tracks which change in each area. The sound effects stray more onto the uncanny side of things, with most still fitting what is going on but with a few outliers being somewhat jarring. Still, although it may sound like a simple excuse, the tone and setting of the game still excuse these without being particularly awkward.

Gameplay

Fatum Betula’s gameplay is difficult to classify but can be broadly described as a first-person adventure with puzzle elements. Said puzzle elements generally consist of the old formula where the player must find objects and utilize them to interact with different ones to see what works and what doesn’t. By exploring the different areas, different tips explaining which combinations may work can also be found, guiding the player somewhat.

While the gameplay loop itself is quite simple, it is arguable that Fatum Betula’s strength lies in the simple exploration of the unique areas as the player uncovers their secrets. Trying out different combinations of items is also highly rewarded, unlocking secret interactions and encounters with them.

As previously stated, the end goal of the game is quite simple: feed the tree with a new liquid. Upon doing so, one of the different endings will be reached, with most taking around 30 minutes to unlock. To add to this, the game as a whole features around 3 to 4 hours of gameplay with some amount of replay value still left after total completion.

Conclusion

Fatum Betula is an incredibly unique game with an interesting world that compensates for its simple gameplay. Accompanied by retro-styled graphics and music, the game is definitely entertaining for anyone interested in surrealist experiences. With a price point of $5.49/€5,49/£4.99, the game is definitely quite cheap and recommendable to pick up and spend an afternoon with.

Personal Opinion

“I find Fatum Betula to be a pretty entertaining game. I’ve always had a knack for weird games focused on offering surreal experiences over everything else, something this title definitely does. While I’d argue Fatum is not a masterpiece or something I absolutely adored, it is a pretty damn good game that gave me a fun afternoon. The only complaint I could have about it would be its length, since almost everything can be found in a few hours. Then again, it’s quite alright when taking into account its low price. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the author, Bryce Bucher, to see what he comes up with next.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Fatum Betula - Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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