By William Haderlie / March 13th, 2017
|Title||Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force|
|Developer||Compile Heart, Idea Factory|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||February 14, 2017|
|Age Rating||ESRB T for Teen|
One of the pleasures in re-reviewing any game that your reviewed yourself is being able to go back and revisit an old review and reflect on how a game has affected you over time. Of course, the other reason to redo the review is to make sure that it survives intact on the new platform/console, so I’ll be a doing a fairly short run down on the game itself. I did a very exhaustive review of this fantastic game (giving it a 5.0 score) when it was released last year on the PlayStation 4, you can find out much more about the characters and the game systems by checking out Part 1 and Part 2 of my original review from a few months back. So I won’t rehash much of that here, other than starting out with a few spare details to establish what we are talking about for the newly curious.
The original Fairy Fencer F was a pretty good if a bit short, JRPG released for the PlayStation 3 and then subsequently ported over to Steam later on. With Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force they took the original concept and added some new mechanics (such as having twice as many party members in combat), they added new playable characters, and then they added a ton of new story content with 2 all new story paths to take. This was a really great move for Compile Heart and Idea Factory to make because they recognized that they had the kernel of something really good here, they just needed to develop it more. The characters in this game will really grow on you, even if they start out quite rough around the edges. Fang is definitely not like any game hero you have played before, and I especially could not imagine a Western developer making a protagonist like him. So with some extra polish, they turned a good JRPG with some good ideas into a great JRPG that was truly innovative in many ways.
Looking back on the game after half a year, my opinion of it has actually grown slightly. We don’t split up our year in review polls by genre, but if I was to vote on this game in an RPG category, I would have listed it as my #2 RPG of 2016. My #1 RPG of last year was MegaDimension Neptunia V-II, so we are living in a world where 2 Compile Heart/Idea Factory games were ranked higher than the newest Final Fantasy by yours truly. I can only imagine going back in a time machine to tell myself that 5 years ago, I would have accused me of being an evil twin from an alternate universe. The point is that Idea Factory and Compile Heart have continued to get better with each release, improving every facet of themselves as a developer. And this game was another example of them learning from their previous releases and making the next one even better. So how does that philosophy transfer to porting this game over to the PC?
Not much about the game itself changed for this version other than having several DLC additions that were purchasable on the PlayStation 4 version of the game come for free with the PC version. One immediately noticeable change was that there are two new difficulty levels: Amateur and Hell. I did defeat the original version of the game on all 3 of its difficulty levels, but I have not defeated this one on Hell level yet. It was significantly more difficult, but it will be easier to do so on New Game+. There were also a bunch of new extremely high-level dungeons that were immediately available in the PC version where you had to purchase them separately on the PlayStation 4. So not much has changed, but it was a quick turn around since the original so I would not have expected much to change. The real question is if they could make it work well on the new system, the game was already great enough to be considered a JRPG classic by myself and many others.
The only other changes to the game are the direct result of porting a console game to the PC. There is added keyboard and mouse support, but to be frank it does not work very well. It’s fine for just running around the areas with, or to navigate the menus, but in combat, it was really unwieldy to operate. But I really do not blame these common issues on any developers. These games were made with a modern controller in mind, so they had to add keyboard and mouse support just in case people wanted to use them, but really you should be plugging in a Sony or Microsoft controller and just using the controls that it was developed for. Thankfully they also added button mapping to the options, so it’s quite easy to configure a controller to your specific preferences. The only other change was the standard resolution selection and the very sparse 2 graphical option selections. That is really where my one complaint about this game stems from.
This game almost got a rather sour note on its review from me. For some reason my regular PC had a much more difficult time running it smoothly than it did MegaDimension Neptunia V-II, which I reviewed only a couple months ago. There were really two reasons for this, one was because my hard drive was starting to fill up (which I corrected myself and is not the fault of the developer), and the other reason was because my graphics card is getting on in years and it meets the minimum but not the recommended. So some cut scenes and some particularly busy fights were experiencing some slowdown on my normal computer. Thankfully I recently purchased a new Alienware that more than covers the recommended PC specs and so I found out that it was not the game that was stuttering, but my PC that needed some parts upgraded when I get the time. I mention this in the review because there are not many graphical options to turn down other than the Display Resolution. So if your PC barely meets the minimum requirements, plan on turning that down or suffering some stuttering and slowdown. If you meet the recommended requirements, there is no issue though.
So, in the end, nothing major was added to the game but nothing at all was lost. With the extra DLC that comes for free, I would say that this is the definitive version of the game, even if only slightly. I doubt that there is any particular reason to buy it again if you already owned it on the PlayStation 4, unless the idea of having it on a laptop to take around with you appeals to you (no judgement here, I find the idea appealing myself). For those who haven’t played this yet because they don’t own a PlayStation 4 or they missed the initial release window, I can wholeheartedly recommend you jump in on this title. There is just tons of love put into this game all over the place, from the art and battle designs, to the story and character interactions, and then to the music and voice acting. The going price of this game on Steam is $49.99, which is not bad for a PlayStation 4 game port that is still quite new. And, as I said in my original review, for that price you get well over 100 hours of gameplay spread across 3 different story arcs. Now we have another wonderful JRPG on Steam, and a shot across the bow to remind people here that the genre is still alive and well in 2017.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
Compile HeartFairy Fencer FFairy Fencer F: Advent Dark ForceIdea FactoryIdea Factory InternationalJRPGPCSteam