It’s Time to Re-Fairize! Fairy Fencer F is a game created and published by compile heart in Japan and published worldwide by idea factory which is compile hearts parent company. Its initial release was in Japan back in 2013 as simply Fairy Fencer F on the PlayStation 3 and it was made using a modified version of the Hyperdimension Neptunia battle system which is a series created by the same company. In 2016 Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force was released worldwide for Playstation 4 featuring improved graphics over the original, larger fights and a change in the storylines that includes additional storylines and an increase in the amount of endings the game will also be released on PC later this month. However, is the update in this game sufficient enough to separate it from the original?
The story was written by Japanese screenwriter Toshiki Inoue who has worked on many anime including Death Note, Dr. Slump and Yu-Gi-Oh among others. The game starts the same as the original by establishing the history of two gods that fought each other with magic weapons they had summoned each eventually sealing the other god and vanishing from the world leaving the weapons they created behind who come to be called furies. The game follows the story of a lazy guy called Fang who finds a Fury weapon called Eryn and becomes a Fencer against his will. The game’s story is told using a visual novel style approach it has pictures of the characters talking amongst themselves on the screen describing to the player what is happening in the scene and apart from a few changes the entire scene is very much left up to the imagination of the player. The differences between the original are present from the beginning since the story starts out in a prison but the first battle began in a forest this is changed in the updated version instead opting to begin continue the beginning in the prison. The two unlikely partners get thrown into a quest involving the collection of other lost furies and the lost gods. Throughout the game the characters will also meet many friends that will help them complete their quest. The story of some your friends and companions have been altered slightly for this game in order to build their characters a little more this does improve on the quality of the story and the characters involved.
The battle system is turn based allowing the player to move around characters and position them in the best positions or moving them around to fit as many enemies in the attack range of the attack the player selected. The combat section of the game are completely action packed allowing the player to use multiple attacks, buffs, debuffs and heals also the scale of the combat has been improved allowing a 5 character team as opposed to the 3 from the original game. Each character is levelable up to a maximum level of 999 and has many challenges and upgrades to be purchased giving the player a lot more to accomplish with each character effectively increasing the play time of this game drastically. The game includes dungeon areas like in the previous version. Fortunately the dungeon areas in this game have been improved over the original and now include destructible items and unlockable doors. The bad news is that some of infuriating jumping sections that are present in some of these dungeons haven’t been made any easier on the player the most hair wrenching of these being in the last dungeon. If you’ve played through the original you will know which one I mean if this is your first time playing I’m sure you will find it anyway. The map is unchanged except for the furies that are available to the player which now includes some new ones this however does not impact on gameplay very much in the early stages of the game. Speaking of the early stages of the game, while fun to play it starts off ridiculously easy mostly because the dlc released with the game is given to you the instant gameplay starts and includes items that are way beyond the beginning levels. This problem also occurred in the original and seems to not have been rectified in the updated version which could have been done by simply adding in level requirements for equipment and furies.
There is definitely a noticeable increase in the graphics when comparing it to the original. For starters, the main characters have had a graphical update to their character models and the main character fang in particular has received some interesting changes more specifically the characters fairize form has been completely redesigned which is nice as it now matches the characters colours and element type and is now a full body form instead of a torso form which sets him apart from some of the other character. Of course there are some small updates and changes to other characters as well but fang has had the most noticeable change of the lot. There is of course new playable characters in this updated game namely Marianna who was previously just a villain but is now available to recruit to your party also another character called noe is available to recruit. The updated dungeon areas in the game have received an upgrade that is definitely distinguishable from the original game however a few of these are still just copies of each other using similar assets and layouts these could have used some additional changes to differ them. There are of course new areas in the game these are mainly additional areas included into the game. To make the story remain mostly the same many of these areas won’t be seen by the player until subsequent playthroughs however a few are explorable to the player within the story. The HUD has been slightly updated from the original this is mostly due to the incorporation of the increased party sizes available but other changes are also included these are mostly palette changes to some of the colours used.
The voice acting in this game includes a choice of English or Japanese voice actors. Personally I use the English voice actors who have done a great job at accurately gauging the tone of each situation. Some of the dialogue is a little questionable with some appearing to reference some more adult topics but it makes a point to never directly show or talk about any of these topics which allows an all age’s availability to the game. Additionally the take on humour is very good if at some points groan worthy it makes an accurate attempt at humour that does well especially in the beginning. The humour portrayed also ties into the story by building character development with the other characters and the player themselves by showing the characters change and grow by making a more wacky and fun attempt in the beginning but showing the characters mature and evolve as their dialogue fades from their jokes about their situations and seeing them become more serious as the game goes on. The game’s music is composed by multiple artists and the list hasn’t changed from the original the music. The music is used well in most areas the ambient music in the dungeon areas changes depending on what kind of area you are in areas are matched well with the right types of music. The music in the cutscenes changes on the mood of the situation the characters are in for example a tense or ominous situation will include music that will convey that tone whereas a jokey type situation will include music that is more upbeat and inane. The one problem I have with the music in the game is I find the battle music repetitive and in case of a lot of bosses very uninspired, that being said fairize music does sound amazing elevating the transformations performed and helps in creating an anime feel to the game. Unfortunately, the trigger for the fairize music feels broken as it sometimes chooses to change and sometimes it doesn’t.
All in all the entire main story plus some side story action should take around 20 hours the first time through as long you are watching the cutscenes but 100% completion will take hundreds of hours to achieve. Advent dark force does a lot to improve upon the some of the small problems of its predecessor and has added some nice extras to show off to returning players which the game feels more aimed at. There are some minor issues and bugs with the game but nothing to completely ruin the experience. One issue that is worth mentioning is that while the game isn’t that graphically challenging to run there is still little in the way of graphical options for the player to either tone down or tune up some of the games graphics. I wouldn’t recommend this game to just anyone as it has a specific audience that it targets, namely Anime lovers and fans of the original. The chances are anyone who falls into the games confines of a target audience will love it, whereas others may get turned off at the visual novel style used to tell the story or of how the story works in regards to the repeat playthroughs. Lastly, while there is nothing stopping the company making a sequel to this series a second game might lessen some of the impact of the later story and also make the point of having multiple endings pointless. So perhaps it would be better if Idea factory used the same sort of base gameplay upgraded it and came back with another completely different kind of story.
REVIEW CODE: A Free Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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