Publisher: Baltoro Games
Developer: Bryce Bucher
Release Date: 03/12/2021
Also Available On
I’m really glad people are bringing back games that look and feel like original PlayStation games. There was something about the games on that system that just have a great feeling and the limited tech was perfect for horror games. It’s why that genre is so coveted on that platform and why every PS1 survival horror game garners high prices. Sure, they’re flawed, a little clunky, some might say ugly, but if you grew up with that system you would know what I’m talking about. The hardware limitations helped add to the mystery and creep factor.
Fatum Betula is one such game made like it was on the system. There’s no story, no characters, no goals, you just wander around the limited areas and try to get all 10 “endings”. There is a singular goal if you can call it that. You might put liquid in the water where a tree grows inside of a church of some kind. Each liquid gives you a different ending. The way you acquire these liquids is very abstract, confusing, and honestly, you need to play this game with a guide or you will never understand what to do. It’s almost a piece of art rather than a game.
When I first started out, I climbed the stairs inside the main “hub” and couldn’t figure out what to do. The controls are purposefully annoying with just a menu, save, and action button. The inventory menu looks like a PS1 one game, and I love it. The graphics are pixelated, blocky, and do the shifty thing that PS1 games did when moving the camera. It turns out that you’re supposed to stand still and stare into the void by the tree and a weird creature will come up and drop off the vials you need for the liquids. Then I had no idea what to do without addressing a guide. There’s one section where you are walking over a lake and must sleep inside an ancient Japanese hut. When you wake up the entire game is glitched out, on purpose, with just a red Japanese symbol texture as the skybox and it’s very disorienting. You then have to get a knife, cut a rope, and the character will give you the liquid you need to give to the tree.
Once you do drop the liquid off to the tree you get a weird ending of stock footage that’s pixelated and low-res with some sort of message. It’s bizarre but also so cool to see. This is where the guide is needed because technically you can beat the game in about 10 minutes. It took me an hour with a guide to get all 10 endings, and for a sale price of a couple of dollars, this was a weird and interesting ride that I quite enjoyed. Part of what the guides have you do is get a certain amount of items and then save them because you need to reload to do something different. There’s a cat you can kill, feed, poison, etc., and each time that gives you a new liquid. It’s better to save before doing each action.
Fatum has eerie sound effects, creepy music, random noises, and it’s just a super weird experience. If you ever played LSD Simulator on PS1 you may have an idea of what this is about. Don’t go into this expecting a linear adventure, horror story, or anything like that. It plops you in and you must figure out what to do by thinking very abstractly and outside normal video game conventions. The final ending would most likely be impossible to figure out as you must put immortality liquid in the autumn river, then enter the church, exit, and at random the moon will appear behind the church, but you must reload and try again if that didn’t work. Things like this would make 99% of curious players just delete the game and get a refund, but use a guide and just enjoy the visual treat.