Fairy Fencer F (PS3) Review
Not so much?
Fang doesn’t want to be a hero. As far as he’s concerned, a good day is one where he gets to eat as much good food as he wants. But when he pulls an enchanted sword from a stone, he finds himself partnered with Eryn, a fairy on a quest to gather a hundred magic […]
Fang doesn’t want to be a hero. As far as he’s concerned, a good day is one where he gets to eat as much good food as he wants. But when he pulls an enchanted sword from a stone, he finds himself partnered with Eryn, a fairy on a quest to gather a hundred magic swords and revive a goddess. Can Fang and Eryn find all the swords before someone else does? And will Fang get to eat his share of gourmet dinners on the way?
Compile Heart is best known for their Hyperdimension Neptunia series, and whilst it may have a different name and different characters, Fairy Fencer F feels very much like another Neptunia game. From your first battle tutorial to dungeon exploration, pretty much every asset you encounter seems to have been lifted from a Neptunia game – even the treasure chests and save points look exactly the same.
Admittedly, by now Compile Heart have made enough Neptunia games that they’ve managed to iron out the early gameplay kinks – but polishing up a decidedly average product isn’t the same as making something fresh and exciting. Pretty much the entirety of Fairy Fence F is what you’d expect – from the safety of a hub town where you can advance the story and restock items, you venture out to monster-infested dungeons to hunt down powerful monsters and retrieve swords imbued with magical fairies. Each dungeon itself is pretty short and simplistic in both looks and gameplay, and it’s only the sheer density of monsters to fight that gives them any longevity. There’s even the usual set of dull optional quests, each of which involves either collecting specifics items, or defeating a set number of enemies. Essentially, it’s RPG staples in their purest form.
Battles are pretty much as you’d expect – as with Mugen Souls and the aforementioned Neptunia games, characters take turns running around the battlefield and unleashing combo attacks on any enemies in range. There’s even the obligatory power-up transformations for really laying the smackdown on the enemy. Admittedly, it’s not a bad battle system, and it can even be quite fun – it’s just let down by the sense that we’ve seen and played all this many times before, and never more so than in this year alone.
That being said, Fairy Fencer F doesn’t rip-off, er, draw inspiration from its sister games. A few additional features have been added from elsewhere in the JRPG universe – there’s a Persona-like element of collecting and equipping different fairies to gain different abilities, not to near-ubiquitous facility to synthesis weapons and items from materials gathered in the field. Perhaps the most interesting of these additions are the things you can use your fairy-swords for – as well as using them to unseal the Goddess (or, if you prefer, her enemy, the Vile God), you can ‘stab’ them into the world map to unlock or enhance dungeons. It’s a slightly odd functionality, but one that’s necessary for game progression.
Compile Heart are known for their lighthearted stories and irreverence for the fourth wall, and Fairy Fencer F doesn’t stray far from its stablemates. Whilst the main plot is less irritating and nonsensical than the likes of Mugen Souls and Neptunia, it’s still cut from a very similar cloth – the characters are shallow, the gags are plentiful, and the cleavage is very much exposed.
Whilst the dungeons and fields are sadly lacking in appearance, Fairy Fencer F does at least deliver on the character visuals, with a range of aesthetically pleasing anime-style designs on parade. The game music is very much a mixed bag of styles which can vary in rapid succession; for example, once your HP gets low in battle, the energetic battle music will change to a more dire and urgent theme, whilst unleashing a transformation triggers a forceful heavy metal-inspired ballad. The English voice acting is a little tiresome, but the Japanese audio offers a more solid performance – although in either language you’ll have to put up with characters repeating the same handful of catchphrases whenever it’s their turn in battle.
It may not have the same label on the tin, but Fairy Fencer F is just a Hyperdimension Neptunia game in a thinly-veiled disguise. It’s true that the developers have refined the gameplay formula and added in some good ideas from other RPGs, but the result is hardly ground breaking. If you can past the feelings of deja vu, the game is entertaining enough to keep you occupied – just don’t expect anything in the way of originality.