THE BEST KIND OF CHORE LIST
If I can only take away one thing from Fantasy Life, it is that I was reminded just how bad my ADHD is while playing. Level-5 did a fantastic job filling the world of Reveria with hundreds of side quests that will keep you busy, and in my case, sidetracked me from continuing the main quest for many hours at a time. However, a large amount of content is not good enough to make a game great, and luckily Level-5 knows that.
You take the role of a quiet young man or woman who has yet to choose their “Life”. A Life is one of 12 different play styles or jobs you can choose to use throughout the game, ranging from a Paladin to a Woodcutter to a Blacksmith. After choosing what you want to be at the beginning of the game (don’t worry, you can change it later if you don’t like it), you get mixed up in an epic quest to save the world! Joining you on this adventure is your trusty sidekick, Butterfly, who is, well, a talking butterfly.
It’s not the overarching story that makes Fantasy Life special, it’s the writing. Fantasy Life’s dialogue in every single conversation was handled with absolute care, which made it incredibly charming. The humor is perfect, and there were several moments that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud while playing. My only issue with the storytelling is that it was typically done all at once in between long sections of gameplay. What I mean is that I would spend two or three hours going through dungeons, and then would have to spend what felt like 45 minutes to an hour reading dialogue from cutscenes. The pacing felt a little off, and I often felt I was tired of the cutscenes about halfway through. This doesn’t take away from the writing whatsoever, and was probably more my fault for watching all of the cutscenes back-to-back. However, when a game gives me the locations of each cutscene I need to watch to advance the story, I typically want to do them all at once and not waste time in between.
Fantasy Life looks about as good as an open world RPG can be on a Nintendo 3DS, and quite frankly, I was extremely impressed. Level-5 used a distinct art style for it that only adds to the charm of the game. The soundtrack is where I was most pleased though. Each location had its own tune that felt like it belonged in each specific environment. From a cool and relaxing tune in the plains to the more frantic tune in the desert, they all sounded like the fit perfect. What was even cooler about it for me was that a few of the songs sounded like they were alternate versions from Level-5’s most recent game, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, a game that I adore.
The biggest appeal to Fantasy Life is the Life system that I previously mentioned. This system was designed to give players many options on how they want to play the game. Do you want to be a strong warrior and slay every enemy? Then a Paladin or Mercenary might be your best option. Do you want to just gather all of the resources around and make a lot of Dosh (Fantasy Life’s currency)? Then you might want to be a woodcutter or miner instead. What if you want to create stuff, like armor or furniture? Then you can be a Blacksmith or Carpenter! No matter what you choose, you will never be limited to just one Life. After completing the prologue, you can actually take on all 16 Lives at once, so that you can take advantage of the perks that they each have to offer.
Each Life comes with its own set of challenges that you can complete to work you way up the ranks from a Fledgling to a Master and beyond. These challenges are SOME of the sidequests I mentioned earlier. I chose to be a Paladin, so most of my challenges were slaying about five of each monster and one of each boss. For example of what other challenges were like, Woodcutters have to cut down 5, 10, and 15 of each kind of tree throughout the world.
The only problem I found with this system is that even if you have accepted every Life, you can only have one primary Life. This means that even though you completed three or four challenges for each of your lives while you were out-and-about, you actually have to go to the Guild Master and change your primary Life each time you want to hand in challenges for each specific Life. This is a HUGE pain in the butt to do, when the system could have easily just not required you to switch every time.
Other than the Life challenges, you will also come across “Other Requests” throughout the world. These are just random sidequests from people in each city that range from fetch quests to kill X amount of enemies. Some of them require you to be a certain skill level in a specific Life so that you can craft an item for them though, which encourages you to focus on leveling up each Life.
The Verdict: 8.1 out of 10
By the time it was all said and done, Fantasy Life ended up being the best chore list I’ve ever completed. And when I say completed, I am lying, because there are still HUNDREDS of Challenges and Other Requests for me to do. The writing is absolutely charming and exactly what I’d expect from a Level-5 game. While the pacing of the story felt off, the gameplay and the Life system more than make up for it by giving you so many fun things to do and places to explore. Fantasy Life is the perfect handheld game because of its varying playstyles. If you only have a few minutes to play, then you can complete a few challenges really quick. I am still addicted to Fantasy Life and am trying to find even more time to play.
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