Back in 2014 Idea Factory International, a Japanese game developer, released Fairy Fencer F on Steam and PS3. It was well-received and approved by many RPG veterans. The only complaints I had from this title was its linear story and simplicity, so when I heard Idea Factory was planning a reboot on the PS4 I had to drop everything. Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force brings us the familiar faces of Fang and the gang while adding some new ones.
This game feels like mixing many JRPGs within an anime; even the intro video screams ‘Watch this kids cartoon show’ with a Japanese rock band in the background. The story feels linear and not many decisions can be made. On the other hand, Idea Factory did a great job in story development. The entire first half of the game feels kind of happy-go-lucky, meeting your gang, gathering fairies; a good old time. Things take a sharp turn during a series of events that will change not only the world but its very history.
All of the story interactions are hand-drawn, partially animated and well done. Many games from Japan in the past have had less than desirable translations and I was happily surprised to see little to no grammar errors or awkward sentences. Even material like location and names felt normal for the world of Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force. Looking at the design of art and dialogue, fans can pick out many mainstream anime and video game references throughout the game.
Fairy Fencer F plays a lot like almost any of the Star Ocean games. Turn-based combat where you may position heroes anywhere within their movement range. Keeping tactics in mind throughout the game is vital. As you progress, each hero can unlock more attacks per turn. This coupled with a new feature, having six heroes in combat, allows players to take advantage of weaknesses and get even higher combos. Having six heroes instead of the original’s three made Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force both easier at first and much more difficult in the end game.
The story of the original game stays the same until about half way through. Idea Factory must have listened to gamer feedback because they have added two completely new stories and two new difficulty levels. Fans of the first game know Fang’s mission is to revive the Goddess. However in Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force, players can now try to revive the Vile God or ignore the two known deities and find the unknown Evil Goddess. Upon replaying the game, these alternate story lines truly reshape the second half. Without too much of a spoiler, I can say you might even find yourself against allies.
Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force is a great RPG for veterans or fresh gamers alike. It was easy to pick up and set down with just a basic knowledge of similar games. This was a characteristic I have found rare in the genera. Most of the time, when a gamer sets an RPG down for a couple days, they must then spend an hour or so remembering what exactly just happened. That wasn’t the case here, after a few days I was able to pick it up and press on without skipping a beat. If I had to boil it all down to a sentence or two, I would say: Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force is a true RPG that’s a worthy predecessor of the original. This game is both friendly and challenging.
One of the draws for younger or new gamers to the RPG world was the crafting. Yes, like many titles of this genera you can complete the game without ever touching this mechanic, however crafting in Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force allows players to customize the heroes with apparel. This helps build the bond between player and character, and adds one more side goal to help flesh out this game. These clothing and accessories aren’t the only things you can craft. It is possible to upgrade items such as potions to more potent versions of themselves.
Something that stuck out of the normal for this genera was the power leveling. Fairy Fencer F awards the player with Furies which hold fairies. Once obtained, usually through completing a dungeon, players may use said fury to weaken the seal on either the Vile God or the Goddesss. Once the fury is used in this way, the fairy gains a world shaping ability. Use world shaping to gain the effects from the fairy’s new power inside a dungeon. These abilities almost always have a bonus and a set back. This way of customizing how a player can choose to grind out levels was a very nice change from the mindless trudge of leveling in many other RPGs.
Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force is due for release on July 26, 2016 on the PS4 in North America.
Gamer Professionals thanks Idea Factory International for the review copy.