Fairy Fencer F (PlayStation 3) Review

By Ian Soltes 18.01.2015 2

Review for Fairy Fencer F on PlayStation 3

Fairy Fencer F, developed and published by notable JRPG developer Compile Heart, is sort of like a nice, small meal made by someone who didn't have all the proper ingredients to make it. That is to say that, while it can be good and may leave the eater feeling filled and happy, when looking back upon it, it's easy to notice that, despite how well-made the meal was, it lacked all the proper toppings, was smaller than it should have been, and was served on a paper plate. That doesn't suddenly invalidate how good the meal was but, when having to describe it accurately, it can only sound bad and fails to capture what was good.

Long ago a Goddess of Light and a God of Darkness decided to duke it out for the fate of humanity, each forging a slew of swords that they imbued with magical properties, and then fired them off at each other, slaying each other in the resulting battle. Many of the swords did not hit their mark, however, and fell down to Earth where they lay, resting, waiting for something to happen. Cut to many Centuries later when a young boy named 'Fang' comes across one of the swords buried in the ground in the centre of a town. Only certain people are capable of wielding these swords and the ones who can are known as 'fencers.' Upon hearing a rumour that whoever pulls out the sword may get a wish, Fang decides to give it a shot and, shockingly, discovers that he is a fencer as well and must now travel the land, searching far and wide, collecting all the fairy swords, releasing the power that's inside, all to revive the Goddess and prevent the resurrection of the Vile God.

Sadly, when getting down to it, Fairy Fencer F ends up being a pretty stock and standard JRPG with little that actually stands out to make it a cut above the rest. To be fair, it's not due to a lack of ideas, though, but rather it is due to simply adding any real depth to them. For example, in combat the player is presented with a system in which they can move their character around on their turn before attacking a foe with a series of skills and combination attacks. Instead of following a 'set' generic 'attack' command, multiple attacks can be strung together, switching between a variety of weapons, possibly even triggering other allies to launch into their own attack combos to aid when off-turn. In practice, however, this becomes little more than 'walk behind the enemy, figure out one or two combos that work well, mash X' because almost all of the foes are non-threatening and can be easily chewed through by just following basic attack commands and ignoring both skills and magic entirely. This holds true even for bosses to the point where most can be beaten without even healing once.

Screenshot for Fairy Fencer F on PlayStation 3

Another example of a 'cool idea that faltered' is what is known as 'world-shaping.' In a nutshell, as the game progresses, it is possible to assign various bonuses and penalties to a dungeon, such as boosting the power of physical attacks or changing the monsters within. In theory this sounds like a cool and interesting notion to find a way to tailor a dungeon to a play-style or to at least cause it to differ from one to another. In practice, it becomes very easy to just pile on +EXP/WP/Gold/Drop Rate bonuses and ignore the penalties simply because of dealing enough damage to take down anything that isn't a boss with ease with normal attacks, especially with the 'Deal and received X2 damage 'penalty'' where it is quite easy to just rip through a dungeon, mashing the basic attack button, destroying everything in the way, dragging in tons of experience and cash to become grossly over-levelled, and then just toss aside anything even remotely 'difficult' without effort to the point where even healing items become redundant simply because there will be nothing to really heal.

Meanwhile, the plot doesn't help out much to bolster the game's reputation simply because it feels like half the scenes are missing and it is, likewise, lacking on explanations. For example, at the start of the game Fang is a lazy, food-obsessed, slacker who has to be nagged by Eyrn (the fairy that is bound to his sword) to even leave jail. However, before long he is up and fighting, doing the right thing, and all that. Why? Who knows?! The turning point isn't shown and comes seemingly out of nowhere and this sort of thing happens in the plot a LOT! It's made worse by the fan service included. Putting aside the question of whether such a thing is good or bad, having a particularly fan service-style scene in the middle of a boss rush is just a major mood whiplash and poorly placed.

Screenshot for Fairy Fencer F on PlayStation 3

Why is this game getting a decent score then? After all, it sounds like it has a slew of problems and ends up spread thin across a plethora of ideas that don't really pan out. Well, simply put, despite all its flaws, the game is still fairly good. The characters can be jumpy and annoying at times, but they can also be decently enjoyable and acceptable, even if they are nowhere near as fleshed out as others. Seeing a little girl whose entire vocabulary consists of 'kill' and various other violent words turn good simply because of cookies (note: cookies are the ultimate good that nobody, not even Sten in Dragon Age: Origins, can hate), although whiplash, is also cute and somewhat endearing in its own manner.

Even if combat is simplistic and easy the dungeons are kept short so they don't fatigue anywhere near as much as might be expected, most battles can be avoided or are over fast, and can easily be compensated for. There is little denying a small sense of excitement when gaining a new fairy and getting new world-shaping effects. It's never really 'bad,' so much as 'generic and compressed.' Even if all the weapons and combos don't exactly stand out that much as being different from each other, the mere effort to at least try such a thing should be applauded and it does at least provide something unique for the game. Had more details been provided and a bit more of a difference offered up, this could have been so much better.

Screenshot for Fairy Fencer F on PlayStation 3

Ultimately, Fairy Fencer F can be summarised fairly simply: "It's not a bad game, by any means, and can actually be decently enjoyable, but is lacking in overall substance." While generic, it's not because it didn't try - it just spread itself too thin. While the plot and characters aren't as deep as they should be, it's not because they, somehow, aren't… acceptable… but rather because the game didn't give them enough time to flesh out. This is only for those already pretty firmly into the Compile Heart JRPG camp, but that doesn't mean it's a poor title, just that it's not the game that should be used to get someone interested in the genre.

Where does that leave it, though? If someone has played Compile Heart JRPG's before, they have played this before. With some more time to focus on fleshing out its unique ideas, building upon what was laid down, and generally having more time and effort put into making things better, this could have been a great game and, hopefully, its future sequel will do this and build upon its parent. As said before, it's like a nice meal made by someone who didn't quite have everything. It's not being made incompetently, just nowhere near as good as it should be.

Screenshot for Fairy Fencer F on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Fairy Fencer F is actually enjoyable, but never really manages to pull itself together. It may not be for those not already deep in the JRPG culture, but it isn't terrible, either, and is still fun. It's just spread a bit too thin, and it shows.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Pretty fair.  I'd have given it a 7, but I agree with the sentiment, it doesnt have anything amazing about it, but certainly its solid, and it certainly has heart.

Honestly I was on the fence between a 6 and a 7. I couldn't decide between the two as the game had many good and bad points but enough enjoyable bits to make it worth-while. Ultimately I had to say to myself 'You know full-well that there are games better than this that you have been harder on and the only reason you're not being so hard on this one is because you're having fun here.'

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