Anyone who’s ever read, watched, listened to or heard about Harry Potter for more than 5 minutes pretty much wants to go to Hogwarts now. The dream of being a young magic-user in training and going to school to learn potion-making, care of magical creatures and more is amazing! Now, take the concept of witch-in-training and try blending that with Stardew Valley and throw in a little slice of Pokemon. That’s basically the way you get Serin Fate, the freshman game from Verthergen and indie publisher Crytivo.
A Few Things To Do
Serin Fate has a nice, open premise for the plot, though moving through the story isn't possible in the game's current alpha. Your character is a brand new apprentice witch sent to learn from the best at the academy. Assumedly, hijinks will ensue. The greater story plot seems to involve Tess, the Princess who is the first Royal witch in 1000 years, though specific details aren’t divulged as of yet. She’s a fellow witch at the academy, and my preliminary attempts to break into her house were unsuccessful. Considering the game touts several inspirations, including Chrono Trigger and Runescape, it’s probably a fairly safe guess as to the direction of the plot here.
What Serin Fate really excels in at this stage is the sheer amount of activities you're able to do. From basic witchery spells like capture to monster fighting, gathering items and exploring, there’s plenty to do. Also included are mining, woodcutting, gardening, fishing, and mining, though it's not immediately clear how to start those activities.
Gathering and how it relates to potion-making is not as you'd expect in Serin Fate, a pleasant surprise to be sure. You can collect items as you go around, there’s no shortage of supplies and natural materials on your own little plot of land. Most of these are to be used in making potions – this is a witch game after all – but instead of having to find the potion recipes or looking them up in a book, you automatically get them added to your Witchery Dex once you find all of the ingredients for something. While I can see that making it difficult for completionists, it’s incredibly helpful for the start when you have limited resources.
Pluses And Minuses
One of the biggest drawbacks to Serin Fate currently is that the game doesn’t do a whole lot of explaining. I have many unanswered questions, and players seemingly need to figure out a lot of the hobbies for themselves. For instance, battling isn’t taught to you, it’s something that you have to intuit by fighting the slime on the path to the other witches’ houses. Even then, I’m sure there are parts that I’m missing and not understanding, as it’s taking a ridiculous amount of effort and time to eliminate what seems to be the most basic enemy on offer.
Even the bars and icons at the bottom of the screen that, presumably, indicate your status, aren’t explained to you and don’t have tooltips. While I figured out my hearts and magic counter easily enough, and the runes are eventually shown to you, there are still several bars that I don’t understand what they show. Are they good? Are they bad? What’s that thing that looks like a weird fish?
There are other questions too, like why do I wake up in the middle of the night as a ghost? What am I supposed to do with this state? What’s the deal with the talking mirror? Why do all the witches have beaks? While it seems like most of these will be answered in due time, it’s still frustrating to have so little an understanding of the world you’re traversing.
The other big detraction from Serin Fate at this time is that you can see the framework for actions and plots that are coming soon, but you can’t interact with them yet. While I appreciate knowing what some of the upcoming plans are, I’d rather have an options menu than a skull in my treehouse that only says I can’t use it yet when I click on it.
So far, Serin Fate has much-untapped potential. With a wide array of skills and activities to learn and use, as well as a world map promising more locations, it seems the final game will have plenty to sink your witchy teeth into. At this point as an alpha build, it’s still very rough around the edges, missing many explanations and how-tos, and you’ll find yourself hitting walls fairly early on. However, this game is definitely one to check up on in the future, as it has more than enough planned to become a sleeper hit.
TechRaptor previewed Serin Fate on PC via Steam Early Access using a code provided by the publisher.