By Joe Sigadel / August 20th, 2015
|Title||Fairy Fencer F|
|Developer||Compile Heart, Idea Factory|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||August 4, 2015|
Idea Factory International has been on a roll lately, bringing us the PC ports of the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth games, and they show no signs of slowing down. If you’re like me and are eagerly anticipating the Steam release of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3, but you need something to tide you over, Fairy Fencer F might be what you’re looking for — or it might not be. It carries many similarities to its sister series, but it tries desperately to be something original and fresh while drawing a bit of inspiration from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy games. Just looking at Fang, you’d swear he was like an adult version of Sora from Kingdom Hearts, down to the outfit, hairstyle and blue eyes — except Fang is very much an anti-hero, a lazy lout who cares nothing for saving the world by reviving a goddess, and his motives are purely selfish and self-serving.
A hero acting like a complete jerk to his party is a story we’ve seen before in games like Tales of the Abyss (Luke fon Fabre, anyone?), but in this case it’s played for situational comedy more than serious drama. When the game does get serious, it sadly falls flat for me. A tale of a good versus evil god defeating each other in combat and being put in stasis is a tired, used up plot, and Fairy Fencer F leaves little to be surprised or excited about. There’s maybe one big shock in the whole game, but you can easily tell how it’s all going to play out. It’s frustrating to think about. I know Compile Heart can do comedy well, and I happen to think highly of Neptunia’s satirical, witty dialogue. Fairy Fencer F doesn’t benefit from any of that. It makes me wonder why, in spite of some funny sitcom events, it has to tell something so bland and generic. The characters in this game play off each other’s personalities well, it’s just a shame they weren’t given better to work with.
Fairy Fencer F borrows many things from Neptunia, from the world map, to the way you engage enemies in areas (attempting to strike them in the field for a preemptive attack), to the character designs, which are done by the same artist, Tsukano. It does a few things differently which make it stand on its own, though. For one thing, the way your characters grow isn’t just by leveling up — you get Weapon Points which you can spend on stat improvement, skills, magic spells, weapon attacks, and adding to your combo count. You have a great degree of control over this, but know that you won’t be able to get everything you want at once, and you will need a lot of WP to fulfill the requirements to get the exact abilities you want. On top of this, you have the fairies themselves, who reside in the Furies you’ll be gathering. There are many to collect, each possessing its own elemental strengths and weaknesses, and best suited for different purposes. Equipping fairies onto your characters is not unlike switching personas, except with this game they level up, maxing out at Level 10 and grant your characters additional stat boosts and perks. Fairies have a secondary use, too. Once you power them up with the Godly Revival ritual at the inn, you can plant their Fury into a dungeon and give yourself benefits like receiving additional EXP, WP, and money. What’s more, you can stack those effects onto each other, but that also means you might stack the negative effects of those Furies, as well, so be careful!
The combat itself moves at a pretty brisk pace, especially considering that this is a PC port of a PS3 game. Most of the encounters shouldn’t take you more than one or two rounds to finish off with strung-together combos, and, occasionally, your characters will go into an “Avalanche” attack that’s pretty overkill if it lands on a regular enemy. Different spells have various areas of effect, but you need to be careful not to accidentally target your enemy and heal up their HP. As you take and deal damage, your Tension meter will rise, and you’ll get to go into Fairize, which effectively doubles your attack and defense capabilities, much like how HDD form did that for you in Neptunia. The boss fights in this game are worth mentioning here, as well. To say that the bosses in this game are pathetic is the understatement of the year. I completely walked all over them with regular attacks and Fang’s Flame Assault combined with Serious Face, and they didn’t put up much of a fight. To make matters even more awkward, the game would often act as if I was losing and struggling to win, which just made me feel baffled. I would be winning by a country mile, only to have the game interrupt me with a scene of the characters looking exhausted and about to fail, only to get a second wind. I wouldn’t have minded if they had actually set up unwinnable or difficult boss fights to make their point, at least then it would have made sense.
The last thing Fairy Fencer F borrows from Neptunia is its Quest system. It works very similarly in that there are two types of quests — killing monsters and bringing back items. It’s very straightforward, and you can get rewards which grow greater as you advance in rank. Finding some of the materials you need can be a bit of a chore, though, and I recommend you take the Item Sonar ability on at least one of your characters to make the process easier on you.
Fairy Fencer F runs very nicely on my NVIDIA GTX 970, but that is certainly overkill for this game. It’s a smooth 60FPS with barely any frame drops, aside from the occasional odd stutter during a spell animation. It even supports 4K resolution, if you can believe that. I couldn’t take advantage of that because my monitor maxes out at 1080P, but it’s nice to know anyway. I haven’t encountered a single bug or crash during my playthrough. I have to give some praise to the music, as well. There are some good tunes here done by Nobuo Uematsu’s band, Earthbound Papas. My favorites were the Fairize themes, although I liked “FULL CONTACT” more than “All Our Might Tonight.”
Possibly the most difficult question to answer here is whether you will prefer playing this game over a Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth title. There are some aspects to Fairy Fencer F which I felt were done better, but, overall, it didn’t feel like it was as strong of a game to me. The sheer lack of difficulty is what really brings it down. Simply adding difficulty options with incentives or retuning the enemies and bosses to pose more of a challenge really would have helped the experience out. If fanservice bothers you, Fairy Fencer F has much less of it, but it’s still there in a few CGs, just so you’re aware. I’m hesitant to recommend this at its normal price tag of $30 because it caps out at around 20-25 hours, but I’m sure completionists and achievement hunters will find ways to extend that. Personally, I’d wait for a discount before picking this up.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Fairy Fencer F is available on Amazon:
Compile HeartFairy Fencer FHyperdimension NeptuniaIdea FactoryIdea Factory InternationalNeptuniaNobuo UematsuReviewRPGSteam