Fairy Fencer F is the latest game from developer COMPILE HEART, most famous for the Neptunia series and brought to the West by NIS America. The game screams formulaic with world-ending battles between a Goddess and a Vile God, a magical sword in a stone and a cute, yet mysterious female, who accompanies our protagonist. But who cares, it’s great.
Fairy Fencer F puts you in control of Fang, an unlikeable layabout whose only interest is filling his stomach and living the easy life. During his travels, he hears a rumour that any wish will be granted to the person who pulls a legendary sword out of a stone. Fired up by the idea of wishing for his weight in food, our greedy protagonist ends up pulling the sword out, in a very King Arthur-esque way. However, instead of food, a cute fairy named Eryn bursts out of the sword and explains that they will need to find all the other fairies in order to revive the sealed Goddess, so she can rid the world of the Vile God for good. Thus a very unhappy and hungry Fang and a disappointed Eryn begin their journey.
The plot is progressed through a visual novel style, that has become more popular over the years. The dialogue is well-written and often witty, helped along by the weird and very anime-styled characters. We have Fang whose only ambition in life is to eat and sleep, he even goes as far as to call prison ‘heaven’, that should give you an idea about how lazy he is. We can’t forget to mention Tiara the main heroine of the game, who is no stranger to spiking people’s tea in order to get what she wants. Fairy Fencer is a crazy ride of personalities that don’t always play nice with others and that’s what makes the experience even better.
The meat of the game is in the dungeon exploration and battles, early in the game battles feel like your very standard turn-based fair, but greatly open up as the game progresses. Sadly the same can’t be said about the dungeons, which are quite bland and totally forgettable. As you slice your way through monsters and head to your goal, you’ll occasionally get Eryn popping up to explain things in very short, but helpful tutorials. The game uses Hyperdimension Neptunia’s battle system, meaning you are able to walk around the battlefield, change your party anytime and select which enemy you will focus on pummeling. Each monster will have a different weakness, so finding and exploiting it is key to taking them down. You’re also able to transform for a limited time using a power known as ‘Fairize’, which will give you a huge stat boost and the ability to destroy enemies with special attacks, that are very satisfying to pull off.
Another great feature is the Goddess Revival, which you can access each time you collect a new fairy. You can use your new friend’s power to remove one of the Goddess’ seals, enhancing your fairy’s power and giving them new abilities as you go. Equipping a fairy is a must too, as it powers up your characters and gives them presents. After a battle, you will receive money and experience points as usual, but you’ll also gain Weapon Points, which is a really great add-on to the game. Allowing you to buy more power and defence upgrades, combos, abilities and skills. Choosing how you spend your WP and how you use your abilities will help you greatly during the game’s difficulty curve, which can become a real pain at times if you haven’t built your character in the right way.
The character’s look great thanks to the joint efforts of Neptunia’s character designer Tsunako and Final Fantasy’s Yoshitaka Amano and with the soundtrack provided by Nobuo Uematsu, it results in some fantastic and catchy tunes. The voices are great in both Japanese and English matching the character’s personalities very well, meaning whichever one you choose to go for, you won’t be disappointed.
While the premise of the game is quite simple and the plot progression can be considered safe in its approach, there is a very solid turn-based RPG at its core, with each new element added to the battle system only helping to boost the enjoyment of the game. The dialogue is sharp and funny and the characters are likeable. The dungeon designs are rather bland, making the exploration aspect of the game forgettable, this is not a perfect game by any means, but if you love JRPGs then it's worth the time.