In a day and age where JRPGs seem to have lost their luster, can Fairy Fencer F turn the tide?
While I’m not a major player of JRPGs, I do have my favorites that I hold as my standard when reviewing them. Titles like Chrono Trigger, or Final Fantasy IV. Sadly, in recent times the JRPG has been more about flash than substance, leading to some truly awful experiences. And then Compile Heart releases its new title, Fairy Fencer F, which seems like an odd middle-ground between the past and present.
In the distant past of this world, the Goddess and the Vile God fought, and managed to impale each other with hundreds of weapons, called Furies, with hundreds more falling upon the human world. In the present day, a young man named Fang finds one Fury, a massive sword, and is able to pull it free. With it comes its Fairy, a teen girl named Eryn, who states that he has to help her free the Goddess. Fang, who is rather lazy and gluttonous, reluctantly agrees, and then they embark on a series of adventures, encountering new friends and enemies along the way.
If the story doesn’t sound like much, it’s mainly because it takes a while to really pick up, often falling back on comedy and overt fanservice to maintain its momentum until the plot thickens. Thankfully, the story scenes are really enjoyable, whether its the visual novel style of gorgeous hand-drawn art with minimalist animation paired with voice acting (the Japanese track is probably the better, or more appropriate one, given the style involved), or the full CG animated cutscenes. Sadly, the actual gameplay graphics are often blander, especially in the exploration sequences. And by exploration, I mean more like run around a map fighting enemies until you find something to advance the game. And the town sequences have no exploration at all, being more like choosing a spot on a map and seeing something before doing it again.
The game is somewhat saved by its combat, which is a turn-based style, but allows you to manually move your character around the map to get in better positions to use your tactics. Adding to the fun is the Fairize feature, where the higher the combo you build in combat, the greater the gauge grows, and when it’s ready, you can transform your Fury weapon to its super form for combat boosts. Thankfully, every character has only one weapon to use, meaning that you can focus less on buying new weapons and more on putting your Weapon Points into the Fury, leveling it up and developing it in whatever specification you want. Sadly, the other gameplay feature, where you use Fairies that you find to help remove Furies from the Goddess, often feels like busy work.
Fairy Fencer F is not a great game, but it’s also a lot better than some of the more recent JRPGs, with a decent combat system that combines turn-based and real-time movements, and some really good presentation in its story scenes. If you think that the extremely anime-influenced title is your thing, give it a try.