By Steve Baltimore / May 24th, 2023
|Title||Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord|
|Developer||Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Sting|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||April 25, 2023 (Consoles) May 22, 2023 (PC)|
|Platform||PlayStation 4|5, Switch, PC|
Being a big fan of Fairy Fencer F when it released years ago, I was pretty excited to see the series was getting a brand new entry. The new game is called Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord, and this time around Idea Factory decided to go with a more strategy based game. Sting was in on the development here, so I felt this would be a quality title going into it. Let’s see if it met my expectations.
The story here is all new and follows our favorite group of Fencers and Fairies as they journey to resurrect the Goddess. In order to do this, they must collect the Furies scattered about the world. Furies are weapons that contain the very essence of the fairies that inhabit this world. The group will soon encounter a strange pair of women known as Muses. Their names are Fleur and Glace, and one seems to have the power to save people with her song, while the other can brainwash them. This encounter will move forward the destiny of Fang and his friends in ways they couldn’t imagine.
I have to say, I had a blast with this crew once again. Fang is just such an ass that he is lovable and the rest of the cast plays off him very well. New additions to the cast, such as Fleur and Rinne, add new flavors to the mix and I really enjoyed learning about them as the game progressed. The writing here is very witty and mostly light-hearted, which is something I have sorely missed in gaming lately. Eryn was still my favorite, and she really shined here just like the last time around.
Graphically, Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord is very average. I don’t mean that in a bad way, as all of the character and monster sprites are nicely detailed. There is just nothing that really makes them stand out either. Environments look great and are well represented. The attack animations are smooth and there are still some great transformation scenes when you Fairize, and for special attacks as well. I think the character artwork and CGs are the standouts here. It’s been a while since this many have been featured in an Idea Factory title, so this is a nice change. As for PC specific features, there isn’t a lot here. You can run the game in resolutions up to 4k at 60hz, and the performance is fine. My crappy laptop was able to run this one, so it should work fine on most hardware that isn’t just old as the hills.
One of the best parts of the game is the soundtrack. This is one of the best OSTs Idea Factory has done in a long time. All of the Muses’ vocal tracks are fantastic and when they get mixed together in combat, some of the combinations are great as well. The combat tracks are all top tier and get you pumped for a fight. I was really glad they kept the song for the transformation scenes as well, it just wouldn’t have been right without it. All of the Japanese voice actors from the previous game return to reprise their roles, and new additions to the cast are fantastic as well. There is no English dub this time around, but for me this was no great loss since I think the Japanese cast was better anyway.
The gameplay here is pretty much what you would expect from a game in this genre. Town serves as your home base and from here you can shop, take on quests or view events with the various party members. After completing some of the story you will be able to use synthesis in the shop to create new items such as potions, armor and accessories. Completing quests will give you various rewards such as gold and other useful items. Your quest rank will increase as you complete these, level up Fairies and do the world shaping. This is where you plant your various Furies in the ground in search of treasure. This will give you important materials for synthesis, unlock new dungeons and you may even find a Fury or two. The area you can look for treasure in will expand as your quest level increases.
Combat here is your basic grid based strategy game. You will move your units about the map using skills and abilities to dispatch your foes. Characters will earn points to unlock new skills as you use them in battle, or level up with EXP as well. Each party member can equip a sub Fairy to gain access to even more skills. As a Muse, Fleur has a special role in battle. While she won’t be walloping enemies with her microphone, her songs will give the party various buffs while she sings. She will be able to sing for a few rounds before needing a recharge, and during those turns you can choose to extend the range or intensify the song effect. Using this properly can turn the tide of battle in your favor quickly.
While Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord is a very basic strategy game, I had a lot of fun with it. I know this is mostly because of these characters and the setting, but I think this would be a great starting point for newcomers to the series as well. The combat is fun, graphics look nice and the music is exceptional. I played about 40 hours to get an ending on this one, and there are more things I have left to explore. I feel like this one is well worth the $49.99 asking price; it may not be anything fancy, but it’s good food for the fans.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Compile HeartFairy Fencer F: Refrain ChordIdea FactoryStingstrategy