AN EPIC QUEST TO SAVE THE WORLD!
AND TO FIND DINNER!
I had no idea what to expect going into Fairy Fencer F, as I barely paid attention to any news about it before release. After playing the first two or three hours, I was questioning whether or not I was even going to be able to finish the game. That being said, I am extremely glad I continued because Fairy Fencer F ended up being one of the coolest JRPG’s I have ever played; but even then, it is probably one of the most annoying games I have ever played too. Developed by Compile Heart (already known for developing strange JRPG’s), Fairy Fencer F gives us an obscure storyline riddled with anime tropes, underwhelming graphics, but some very interesting gameplay aspects that I have never seen before.
You play as Fang, a young man who’s only interest is finding his next meal. One day, Fang stumbles into a village and hears a rumor that if he pulls the village sword (called a Fury) out of the ground, it will grant him any wish. Predictably, Fang pulls the sword out with ease, hoping to wish for food.
Unfortunately, instead of getting to make a wish, a girl appears from the sword and claims to be a Fairy. She ends up convincing him to go on a quest to find all of the other Furies in the world so that they can revive the goddess from ancient times to save the world, but only because doing so will most likely grant him lots of food.
Although the overarching story of the game was predictable, I still enjoyed it for the most part. It didn’t offer anything new that I haven’t already seen, but it was good all-the-same. However, I had a problem with how the moment-to-moment dialogue and story was told. When I said anime tropes, I meant it. It was a harem, had girls with unrealistically big boobs, constantly make sexual jokes, included scenes in hot springs/bathrooms, etc. Now, if you think “Oh, well that is in every TV show!”, you clearly haven’t seen enough anime to know what I mean. There wasn’t a single serious moment in the game that didn’t have some kind of joke attached to it, or just a ridiculous line that would never have been said in real life, which ruined any feelings or attachment I had towards those characters. The entire game felt like fan service. I get it – these kinds of games appeal to a certain audience for those exact reasons, but not to me.
Another issue I had with the storytelling is the presentation of it. Almost every cutscene involves a 2D picture of the characters and a plain backdrop behind them. There were only a few traditional cutscenes in the entire game, which was pretty upsetting. Having to watch 10 minutes (or more) of two or three characters talking back and forth got old really fast. I found that I didn’t even have to pay attention to the screen to get what was going on because they didn’t even move around. Although saying that they didn’t move isn’t completely true, because anytime there are big boobs on the screen, they noticeably bounce.
The presentation of the game also lacks in how the gameplay looks while on the field of play. When you are running around dungeons it tends to skip around, or look as if it is lagging. It was as if my PlayStation 3 couldn’t render the low detailed/plain environments, three or four enemies, and the party leader all on the same screen at the same time. Come on, really? It’s 2014 and this should be a thing of the past. This choppy presentation really made me appreciate games that play smoothly with no technical hiccups.
All of that bashing aside, what really made me stick with Fairy Fencer F past the first few hours was the “World Shaping” system in the game. After acquiring more Furies, you have the option of pulling swords out of the ancient goddess, which applies World Shaping attributes to Fury of your choice. For every positive attribute you gain, you also gain a negative attribute. Example: 30% boost to experience gained but 15% loss to physical attack power. This will require some strategic planning for which attributes you want, because whichever fury you you plan to use for this cannot be equipped to your player.
After figuring all of that out, every time you enter a dungeon you have the option of sticking those Furies into the ground around the dungeon on the world map, which will give you those World Shaping bonuses you chose. At level 1, each Fury has to be placed REALLY close to the dungeon, or else its effects won’t apply; but if you take the time to level them up, you can place them farther away. By the end of the game, I had enough Furies with the right bonuses that combined to give me a 250% bonus to experience, 210% bonus to weapon points (used to level up skills), 180% bonus to money gained, etc. Needless to say, I was power leveling and starting to destroy my enemies.
This was by far the coolest part of the game. I loved the micromanaging and strategizing that came with each Fury and the World Shaping system. It may not be the first time this sort of system was done in a game, but it made me realize that more games should use it. Many people know that I am a Tales geek, so all I could think about while playing this was that the Tales series needs to have something like this in a future game.
The battle system isn’t really anything special, but its not bad by any means. It is a turn-based system that allows you to have three party members in a battle at the same time. You can move around in a giant circle to position yourself during your turn, and then choose whether or not you want to attack, use a skill, use magic, or use an item. It doesn’t require a whole lot of strategy or thinking, but you can get overwhelmed pretty fast if you aren’t prepared.
I used the World Shaping system so effectively that by the end of the game I had absolutely no problem with battles, and not even the bosses could lay a scratch on me. However, the fact that I could use the system so effectively can in itself be considered a complaint, because halfway through the game it started become extremely easy. For me, it wasn’t a problem, but since there is no level scaling, it will definitely turn some gamers away.
The Verdict: 7.1 out of 10
Fairy Fencer F is by all means a good game. But is it a great game? No. I had a hell of a lot of fun playing around with the World Shaping system and fighting my way through dungeons for both the story and side quests for 30+ hours, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody who doesn’t already like JRPG’s or anime. The story can go a little over the top far too often, and some of the dialogue and scenes can make you feel uncomfortable if you aren’t used to that style. Although, if you aren’t a stranger to the ins-and-outs of JRPG’s and anime, Fairy Fencer F is a must play.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.