Throughout recorded history there have been people who excelled at what they do and always crushed their competition. That is until the inevitable day comes when they finally meet someone better than them. When this happens and the once unbeatable force meets it match, it is natural for many of these former champions to give some excuse to explain their defeat and save face. “I only lost because I had a hole in my sock” is an excuse I have never heard prior to playing this game, and while I still have trouble figuring out a hole in a sock and be the difference between triumph and defeat in combat, that phrase is uttered by a bested opponent before he flees after you lay the royal smack down on him. And that is okay, the nonsensical phrase fits the overall strange vibe of this game. There are no two ways about it, this game is weird, but not weird like that creepy uncle who makes family gatherings awkward, it’s the good kind of weird. The story begins normal enough, you take control of Leon, a bounty hunter, who ends up traveling with some girl who summoned him with the false promise of 500 coins named Alice. Leon’s quest is to save Alice from an arranged marriage to a tyrant of a man known as King Xola, whose monstrous pet happens to be on Leon’s bounty list. The story is told through shorts videos and dialog sequences between battles in which you attempt to kill some of the strangest creatures I’ve seen since Shadow of the Beast.
The game play is entirely turn based combat. At first glance resembles the fights from older Final Fantasy games, and while it is not too far removed from that, Fearless Fantasy is actually pretty innovative in regard to game play mechanics. You click on the action you want to take, whether it’s melee attack, ranged attack, or some other kind of special attack, click on the enemy you want to target, and then some moving arrows appear on screen. You drag the cursor through the arrows when they line up with each other. Some more advanced attacks have you move at diagonals or follow some zigzag snakelike pattern. Depending on how close the arrows are when you move the cursor through them determines how effective the attack is. This mechanic is also used for defense so instead of just taking your lumps like most RPGs you have a chance to brace yourself. Initially I wasn’t feeling this control scheme because like all level headed rational people I hate anything new and unfamiliar, but after I played around with it for a few battles I decided this unusual control scheme is somewhat awesome. It is kind of like using the mouse and monitor to emulate touch screen controls. The battles have a fair amount of complexity to them and resource management is critical for success. The amount of energy for special attacks does not stretch very far, but the game is nice enough to allow you to buy inexpensive items that restore energy and health. You do have the option to level grind on previous battles, but replaying battles that destroyed me with a different strategy ended up being pretty easy once I figured them out and changed my approach.
My favorite aspect of this game is the visual style. Everything living in the battlefield looks like a drawing that was cut out and animated in a way that reminds me of the animation style that was seen in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I said it before but it bears repeating, there are some really bizarre looking creatures you kill in this game. Some of the earlier creatures you take up arms against are anthropomorphic mushrooms which sums up how most of what you will run into looks like, and I mean that in a good way. Some great games suffer from generic monster design, and I am glad to say this is not one of them. With the unique battle system and art direction, this game felt like fresh experience. It is a short game, especially by RPG standards but that actually works in its favor. This is not a game I would want to binge on for hours at a time. I did find myself when I had some to time to kill playing a couple battles, and not just because I had this review due. All RPGs that came in recent years that I played I practically had to schedule time to play them, and this being something I can just turn on and play for 20 minutes or so is a welcome change. The battles are challenging and there are multiple difficulty levels you can select at the start of each battle, so if it’s too hard or too easy you can adjust it on the fly. Fans of turn based RPGs who want to try a new take on the system should give this game a try.