When I first looked at Fairy Fencer F I knew exactly what to expect and it didn’t deviate from my expectations in the slightest. In that regard it was like junk food, inherently bad but a comforting satisfaction in it’s simplicity. The story is minimal for its run. It basically involves our main character having to collect a hundred magic swords so to revive a goddess. So the majority of the game is you going to different areas to collect swords, gathering companions and doing this till one of the characters remembers a magic macguffin which can revive the goddess without collecting the rest of the swords. Insert evil corporation that would prefer to revive the evil God instead, ultimately steals your hard work, succeeds, a final boss fight against said evil God and you got the plot. Pretty predictable from the get go. They really want to depend on the characters to sell this story and at least for the main character they succeed.
The main character Fang starts of as a snarky egotistical bum who pretty much acts like you would if placed in the same situation. His Dialogue is quite funny and he has a general policy of just making fun of the situation. Sadly the story demands that he become a more friendly person so as the story goes on he sadly becomes more boring. The rest of the cast suffers from being a lineup of anime clichés with only Galdo being an exception because they gave him a canadian accent in English. They have some funny lines but really it’s when they play off Fang that they work. Still despite the clichés I found the assassin who communicates primarily by saying “kill” and the slob female researcher quite likable. But one thing that I found rather disconcerting was to rapid change of character one of your party members when through once the second half of the game began. How this person started and how he was by game’s end were so completely different that they could have been separate characters altogether.
Graphical, I was surprised to learn that this was a PS3 title as from the screenshots above it would be better suited to PS2. I played the Steam version of the game so this wasn’t a deal breaker because I bought it on sale. But those who bought it at full price would be quite underwhelmed. It’s a very cheap looking game. The 3D graphic models above are only used in the Area levels which are only one or two rooms long. About the size of a Kingdom hearts world with enemies roaming about instead of the band of many a JRPG, random encounters. For the majority of the game you will be working though menu’s and the story is told in Visual Novel format. There are some pros for the fairly good English voice acting and animation on the sprites but for an RPG it’s the lowest form of presentation. But it does come with a plus. This may be because of my high spec Laptop or the general low requirements for a game such as this but I never experienced a loading screen in this entire game. It was a rather refreshing experience to have a game that reacted instantly no matter what you did. Hit load and straight away you are right where you left off. Entering and exiting battles is fast making grinding less of a chore. Overall it’s nice that the game doesn’t hold you up as you run though it. Except when it comes to the tutorials which are intrusive to everything. They pop up frequently at the beginning to teach you the most obvious things imaginable. I was honestly shocked to enter the shop and get a tutorial on how to buy items. Game, this isn’t my first RPG and even if it was I am sure I could figure out the nature of capitalism. The combat system I found to be quite unique up until I noticed other JRPGs that use the exact same system so I don’t think I can give Fairy Fencer any points for something that was likely lifted from somewhere else. Still I rather liked the combat system for being quick and satisfying.
So Fairy Fencer F is a title that can be wholeheartedly enjoyed if you enter it knowing that you won’t be getting something original or outstanding. I believe it’s worth a recommendation to those who like the genre…or at least that’s what I thought before I reached the halfway point. For you see Fairy Fencer commits what I consider to be a cardinal sin of game design at that point. I find it odd that this point is rarely mentioned in its reviews on sites as it can change your outlook on the game completely. For you see once you reach the halfway point an event happens that transfers both the main characters to the past. Storywise it’s a mildly interesting development but take note. The characters have returned to the very first area of the game and that means that you must replay all the levels yet again to reach the ending. The areas where you need to go don’t change. Neither do the enemies or bosses.(Except for some extra enemies and one different boss.)This has to be the most insulting, lazy and blatant padding to grace an RPG since Bravely Defaults final section. You literally replay the game over again. As a person who has limited leisure time and someone who was genuinely enjoying the game up to this point, I find this to be an unforgivable betrayal. So much so that it spoiled my experience with the rest of the game.
With that the problems of the game really started showing, in particular the overabundance of mechanics. You have two kinds of expence, normal experience which levels you up and Wp which can be used to gain new abilities, spells or upgrade one of your stats. On top of this you have challenges which are like achievements that net you permanent stat boosts. Some of these can make sense like attacking a certain number of times will grant you a strength stat. But some are insipid and tedious such as jumping a thousand times in the over world to upgrade endurance. You can also equip fairies which gain experience with your character and level up, granting you more stat boosts and extra buffs. On top of that you can grant Fairies special buffs by using them to pull out a sword from one of the two gods of the world. There are numerous ways to power up your character but it’s clear the game was not built to work with these mechanics. So it is very easy to become an overpowered god long before game’s end. This makes the game very easy and what baffles me is that you can buy DLC which only serves to make the game even easier. If people need that then they might as well give up on playing the game and just watch a let’s play of it. This isn’t simply in the levelling system but combat and other areas. For example the shop has a synthesising system where you can take materials got from enemies and convert them into items and equipment. This system is completely worthless, items lose most of their value once you get a fairy with a SP regain ability and equipment makes very little difference. What’s more there is a side quest system meant to complement this, which rewards you with materials and money for going to areas and gathering a certain material or killing certain monsters. But you will never need this at all and the shop and pub become worthless by the halfway mark. Combat has a number of unnecessary systems too. Attacking has a combo system where you can attack a number of times based on how much WP you spent upgrading the combo tree. You can buy new combo moves with WP and these can change your weapon into various modes, like guns,axes, bows, knuckles, swords etc. Enemies are weak to certain weapon types but the extra damage done is barely noticeable and this weapon weakness systems serves only to activate something called avalanche mode which allows other characters to put in extra combo attacks without using up their turn. This Avalanche mode is useless. It’s activation is based on luck and rarely activates when you need it. Instead it often activates when an enemy is nearly dead and the extra attack amount to nothing but overkill.
There is also a world shaping mechanic which is where you can sort of equip a Fairy to a area and it will grant a special buff to that area. However while it will give you a benefit like enemies dropping extra gold, it will pair it up with a cost such as gaining less exp. However I found an exploit in this system when I happened upon a shaping ability. The ability granted that you would receive more WP but all damage was doubled. I believe the double damage was intended to be a danger but they didn’t think it through. You don’t just take double damage, you deal double damage too. Meaning, your attack power is doubled. End result was I often killed enemies on the first turn before they had a chance to attack. Only way they could get the upper hand would be if they ambushed me but that stopped once I gained an ability that makes it that I can never be ambushed. I actually had to stop myself from using it out of pity because the game was easy enough as it is. How much of Fairy Fencer F you enjoy really depends on if you can excuse a weak story, enjoy its battle mechanics and most importantly deal with a large amount of recycled content. The last part of that sentence was the deal breaker for me and makes this a game I wouldn’t recommend. If it’s one thing this game proves it’s that length for the sake of length only serves to test the patience of the player. If Fairy Fencer had simply opted to remove this time travel nonsense it would have been a shorter JRPG but ultimately a much better experience.