The original Half Past Fate has been out on the Switch for almost a year now, and our review praised it for its strikingly pixelated graphics and engaging dialogue, albeit with a few too many mini-retrieval missions. The same can be said for the follow-up, Half Past Fate: Romantic Distancing, a short (actually short) story where two strangers meet at the start of a global pandemic, forced to communicate via phone calls and video chats. It’s a sweet, slightly uplifting story, but is really only recommended for those who liked the main game and are absolutely itch for more of the same.
You play as two characters throughout the story: Stephen, an uplifted lover of music, and Robin, a sales assistant at the local technology store. The two meet and arrange to follow each other at a local concert, before being locked up by the government to contain the spread virus. Suddenly stuck in their respective homes, the two continue to chat over video on their laptops, providing virtual trips home and listening to music and building a deep affection for each other in about 60 days.
All this is condensed into one incredible short experience: we talk a maximum of 1
The gameplay remains the same as its predecessor: the majority of the story consists of dialog boxes when the two characters interact with each other. For short periods you can also wander around and get to the sights (which still look like gorgeous, by the way), although quite a few of the locations from the main game are reused here. There are a few instances where you are presented with dialogue options, but these had minimal impact on the story as a whole (like choosing which burrito to order for Stephen).
Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves a crucial question when it comes to Half Past Fate: Romantic Distancing: do we really need it yet another reminder of the really awful situation we are all still in? The story told here is uplifting, but it is also filled with terms we have become all too familiar with over the past year: social distancing, flattening the curve, external encounters … we can continue. Games are – perhaps more than ever – a means of escapism, and Serenity Forge’s new title is a bit off also close to reality to our liking. We would probably recommend other developers to try again in a few years when the dust has settled.