I’m an anime nerd, so when Fairy Fencer F by Idea Factory fell into my hands, the pure hype was very much real. Before getting too far into this review, I do want to provide a word of caution. If you find anime cliché, childish and overall uninteresting, then bring out your 50 foot stick and poke this title away from your field of vision. Fairy Fencer F is story rich, so roughly 40 percent of the game consists of listening and/or reading story. Another 20 percent will be spent in menus, customizing your party and navigating the various options in town. If you find entertainment from story-rich anime games and love customizing your character’s abilities in multiple ways, then you will have a blast with Fairy Fencer F. Without further ado, let’s jump into the meat of the game so you can make the final decision for yourself!
A large portion of my gamer friends hate stories in games and will skip every cut scene and dialog box without fail. I never understood why they never even attempt to give a game’s story the chance to drag them into another universe, but they simply only enjoy games for the mechanics, graphics and gameplay the title has to offer. If any of those friends picked up Fairy Fencer F, they would be flush with burning hot rage within the first 20 minutes. The reason is due to the amount of story packed into this title. Since the game focuses on story so heavily, I am forced to do the same with my review.
You play as Fang, who never wanted to live a life destined by fate, unless that fate revolved around eating large quantities of delicious food. While inside of a town, he discovers a fury and the myth surrounding this mysterious sword. The legend states that if someone can pull the sword out from its resting place, any wish they desire will be granted. In Fang’s hunger-induced state of mind, he tries to pull out this fury, and succeeds. Inside of this Fury is the Fairy Eryn, whose fate is now intertwined with the fencer who bonded with her. To Fang’s dismay, Eryn explained that she is on a quest to collect 100 different furies in order to revive the Goddess who is sealed away with the vile God, who must remained bound at all costs. Now Eryn and poor Fang set off on their wonderful adventure together.
Well, they will set off on their adventure after another dialog scene. Ok, now that is over, we can experience battle, After a tutorial lesson of course. Sweet, that was pretty fun, let’s destroy the enemy! Oh, more dialog. With this amount of story, it needs to be a certain level of quality in order to hold my, and any gamer’s attention. I feel they partially succeeded. The style of the game is very anime, and the game’s characters are the reason for that. Right from the gate you are hit with cliché anime personalities. The poor hero that was forced into a fate not of his choosing, pouting and acting tough while being dragged along against his will. The child-like female supporting character who throws pity parties in order to persuade the others to join her. We can’t forget about the sassy princess type who feels like everyone else is beneath her, only there as tools to help her rise to the top. This list goes on. If you’re familiar with anime, then you will be able to deal with these personalities, and you may even start to enjoy the characters as the game progresses, as I did.
Major brownie points must be given to Idea Factory for voice acting 80 percent of the dialog in the game. I wouldn’t say that it was fantastic, but for English dub in an anime game, it was pretty good. I always favor Japanese dubbed whenever available, and I feel like it helped my overall enjoyment level of the story. If you despise hearing Japanese, the English dub is acceptable at best. Overall, the story in Fairy Fencer F is hard to get into, but ends up becoming a slightly rewarding experience as the hours pass by. I never found myself playing the game only to progress the story, but I never had the intense urge to skip a cut scene.
The story was decent, but the aspect of Fairy Fencer F that truly captured my attention was the amount of customization and style it brought to the table. I never played the previous games from Idea Factory, but if the amount of content was packed into those titles as well, I may have to give them a spin. As mentioned in the story section, you’re on a mission to capture 100 different furies in order to free the Goddess. Once a fury is captured, you (sort of) travel to the location where the Goddess and Vile God are kept, and use the fury to free a portion of either deity. By doing this, you gain a fairy for your fury, which gives you a perk depending on the type of fairy/fury combo you created. When battling with your team of Fencers (humans who wield the power of fairies), your job is to defeat all the enemies in an area so you can grab the Fury before someone with evil intentions snatches it first.
That brings us to the battle system. It uses the style of RPG’s like Final Fantasy 13 and Dragon Quest when it comes to encounters. Instead of running into random encounters that you can’t avoid, the enemy hordes are shown on the world map as one enemy. This enemy fleet can chase you or you can get the jump on them in order to start a battle. That also provides you the chance to make a getaway if that is your choice. I enjoy having the freedom to choose how to advance on enemies instead of feeling like you’re helpless. This style of encounters also helps with my overall level of immersion while playing the game. Once you are in battle, you control one character at a time using a turn based system, and you have direct control over each character in your party of 2-4. During your turn phases, you can freely move your character within a limited amount of space. Once you find the proper placement for your character, you can choose to either preform melee attacks or a special attack, which includes magic. Special attacks use MP, while basic attacks do not. Another option you have is to farize, which is a mechanic that I enjoyed deeply. If you have watched Magi or Kill-la-Kill, then you have an idea as to how this ultimate transformation looks, and that is the reason I enjoyed it so much since it gave off a feel similar to two of my favorite anime. When in this mode, your character’s attacks and spells deal more damage, and you open up their special “finishing move”.
The game’s mechanics start getting interesting when you add in the leveling system. After every battle your characters acquire battle points. These points are used to upgrade every possible stat of your character. You can increase their base stats like health, damage and defense, unlock new spells or increase the potency of your old spells, add extra attack slots for your basic attacks, and then you can also unlock different types of basic attacks that all have their own stats and effects. Once you unlock extra slots in your basic combinations, you are able to take the attacks you unlocked and assign them to four different slots. When your character is in battle and uses their standard attack, their second move will be chosen by you from the list of four you created. To add to the customization, the fairies you assign to your characters also level up and acquire new skills as well. But wait there’s more. Whenever you are on the world map, you can decide to stick a fury into the ground on top of an area. By doing this, different stats will be added to that section, which alters the enemies and your abilities while in battle. Each fury will provide different stats, and thus providing yet another way to customize your play style.
The only gripe I have with the game’s mechanics would have to be the way you interact with the world while not engaged in combat. While you are in an area in order to capture a fury, you control your character, attempting to get from point A to B. There is not much exploration opportunities in these levels, since they are constructed in a linear fashion. Sure, there are some item “chests” that you find along the way, but I never felt the illusion of freedom while playing, which is something I quite enjoy. While you are inside of a town, or on the world map, everything is controlled through menus and clicking on the map. I felt like this ruined part of the game for me, since I would have enjoyed having extra control of my character outside of missions and battles. Even if that control would consist of walking to areas and scrolling through a town, I would rather that than simply clicking on the inn menu option and being teleported there. There are plenty more little gems hidden within this game’s mechanics that you can discover for yourself if you choose to purchase the title.
I adore anime, so any Japanese games in that genre will always have a special space reserved in my heart. When I pick up a new title, the expectations set by me are not high; A cheesy anime storyline with lovable and slightly irritating characters, anime art style and music to help set the mood, mediocre or even horrible English dubbed, and advanced gameplay mechanics that offers countless hours of grinding and entertainment. Fairy Fencer F didn’t really fall short in any category, and was basically what I expected. I expect cheesy story that is able to hold my attention and immersive gameplay, and both of those aspects were present, so I’m a happy nerd. If you would like to check this game out for yourself, you can find it here with a standard price tag of $29.99. For the amount of contact in the game, the price is reasonable. Happy gaming fellow nerds, and I will see you next time!