A free copy of the game has been provided in exchange for an honest review.
|Game: Fairy Fencer F
Genre: RPG, Turn-based
Developer: Idea Factory , Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release Date: Aug 4, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating: 8/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Replay Value: 7/10
Step in the shoes of Fang, a lazy young man who, through the miracle workings of destiny, becomes a fencer, charged with gathering furies and removing the seals of the Goddess, who has been at war with the Vile God for centuries, both of which are now sealed away in another world.
Fairy Fencer F is a typical JRPG, that means there’s quite a bit of talk, and a bit of grind. It’s also a console port, and as such, it has some peculiarities.
My first time opening the game I got an error that said:
"videocard.cpp (279) : DXFAIL : E_FAIL"
Searching the forums for a solution provided no help, but a quick google search turned up the answer. All I had to do was “兼容模式，兼容模式是XP SP3，现在已经运行了五个小时左右完全没问题。”
Oh, did I forget to say the answer was on a Chinese site? I meant, “Compatibility mode, compatibility mode is XP SP3, now running about five hours no problem.” Or so google translate said. As it turned out, aside from activating compatibility mode, I also had to execute the file as admin. After that, it was a pretty smooth ride!
Fairy Fencer F is basically a turn-based RPG with beautiful anime-styled art. When you’re not dungeon-crawling, you have a view of static maps and Visual Novel styled conversations with other characters. When you are dungeon crawling you get those same anime characters in 3D view. You only see the party leader until you enter a battle, and you can only choose so many of your friends to battle with you.
Battles are turn based, but not static. You can move freely around a predesigned circular area of reach (and sometimes enemies will be outside this area), which gives you a sense of freedom despite the limitation, something move-by-places or only-x-steps type of turn based games don’t give you.
The sound and voices are very nice and very fitting to the whole anime/fantasy theme, and I’m particularly fond of the song used when you use “fairize”; it reminds me lots of the songs in Persona 3 and 4. By the way, did I mention you can choose between English and Japanese voices? Because you totally can. It had my heart right then and there.
Now, I’ll try to explain this as best I can. Basically you play as Fang, a Fencer, that is: a person who can wield Furies, which are weapons that contain fairies that add powers to the weapon/wielder. Your job is to go out and search for more furies – each one you get will grant you a new fairy. You can add these to your own weapon as “resonance” to make it stronger and give you some extra stats. The fairies you’re currently using gain experience along with you and level up. Fairies are also ranked – the rank is used to remove the seals (swords) on the Goddess/God. While the story tells you to remove the Goddesses’ seals, after the tutorial you can choose to remove the Vile God’s seals as well, which is a neat touch! Each seal removed successfully adds different boosts/stats to the fairy used to remove it, which in turn adds it to you if it’s the one you’re using as resonance. Fairies that aren’t currently being used in your weapons can be stabbed as their fury forms on the world map in order to provide various boosts, buffs and debuffs in the nearby dungeons (for instance, earn more exp, or gold, or drop rate… ). Since you can stab more than one fury into the ground, you can get quite a few boosts while on a single dungeon.
You have combos for physical attacks which you can customize, and you can at a fly switch between three different ones while attacking by simply pressing one key instead of another, all comfortably close by. Because you have so many ways to affect stats and boosts, the system ends up being quite flexible and enjoyable to play with.
It’s a very interesting concept and I feel like I don’t do it justice explaining it thus briefly.
Saving is done through specific spots while inside a dungeon, or at any time within the world/city maps. While in the city you get to speak with a lot of characters and take up quests that can give you some prizes and can also be repeated (indefinitely, as it seems). The quests are fairly typical, but quick to get done, and go along with what rank you are. You can also craft some items to help on your journey. There is some romance in this game.
Because this was a console port, the controls at first can be a bit awkward (for instance, you can’t use esc to exit menus, you must use backspace; you can use the mouse too, but it’s really more of a hassle than using only the keyboard); however, once I grew used to them they were actually very sensibly placed and quite comfortable to use. I ended up using just the keyboard all the time.
I do wish the game was free-roaming rather than turn based, and the fights do get a tad repetitive after a while, making the fighting aspect of the game feel a tad like a grind (the unskippable power cutscenes and “fairize” cutscenes can get a bit annoying after the first few fights). However, the story is nice and full of funny moments and the characters are cute and extremely likeable, all of them with their own personalities, doubts and insecurities.
The game really makes you want to collect all the fairies and remove the seals to see what will happen, keeping you hooked with the story. It also offers a New Game Plus + mode upon completion, which I always love but haven’t yet reached. Fairy Fencer F is a delightfully long game (with 30+ hours if you’re playing through just the main story line, and over a 100 if you’re going for completion), but from what I’ve seen so far I’m confident in recommending this game to everyone who is into JRPGs.
Definitely recommended for JRPG (and anime) fans: great music, great art, complex yet flexible stats system, some romance, some ecchi, some grinding, and 30+ hours of fun.