The original Fairy Fencer F is an often overlooked and underrated JRPG. This remake for the modern age does a great job of ironing out a lot of wrinkles but is it a worthwhile adventure for existing fans and newcomers alike?
As I've already mentioned, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a remake of the original PlayStation 3 game from a few years back. This version runs a lot smoother and features additional content such as a new area, more characters, and the ability to have a party of six active members. For the unfamiliar, the story follows the initially reluctant yet charming hero named Fang who meets a Fairy at the beginning of his tale. This Fairy (Eryn) informs him that he's a Fencer who must go on a quest to rid the world of evil by reviving the Goddess and sealing the Vile God. Along his journey, he'll make critical decisions that can reveal three different endings. The plot has its share of twists that unfold where characters' intentions aren't as straightforward as you'd expect. Even though it begins rather simplistically, you'll be quite impressed by the events that take place up until the very end.
The cast mostly consists of stereotypical JRPG personalities yet it's difficult not to love each and every quirky character. Besides the lazy protagonist, other folks join you such a deceptively elegant lady (Tiara), an upbeat fellow with a thick Canadian accent (Galdo), and a large-breasted researcher who doesn't like wearing clothes (Harley). There are even a few secret characters that will join your party if you meet certain conditions that include a hard-headed soldier with something to prove (Apollonius) and a cute but extremely greedy information merchant (Lola). This eccentric cast breathes life into the world and makes every moment all the more enjoyable.
Another characteristic that does a fantastic job of livening up the tale is the incredible soundtrack. Not only does each piece of music match the story events perfectly, they also highlight phases of battle. The song even changes when characters transform or become weak with low HP. On top of this, a ridiculous sense of humour will often make you laugh or at least crack a smile from time to time. There are some cheeky moments, too, such as a bath scene where Karin washes Ethel, one where Eryn admires Tiara's boobs, and who could forget Ethel stumbling into Fang's bed? It's silly and fun; as long as you don't take it too seriously...
Of course, what's a JRPG without a battle system? Fairy Fencer F boasts fast-paced turn-based battles where you move party members around and position them to perform the most devastating attacks possible. For example, if one character has a spell that damages every enemy around them then you'll want to move them in between as many foes as you can. Characters can even combine with their Fairy partners (who are infused into their weapons) in order to Fairize and become temporarily more powerful.
Additionally, the in-depth customization system allows you to assign points to increase base stats as well as learn skills, magic, passive abilities, and new weapon combos. If you're feeling up to it, you can always edit these combos to your liking. Unlocking Fairies by completing quests grants you the ability to equip them and earn the occasional present. Heck, even simply running around has its benefits as party members' attributes increase by earning achievements such as jumping or using magic a certain number of times.
One of the biggest downsides of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is the environments. A few of them are rather beautiful such as grassy plains with blue skies overhead but most of them are downright boring. Whether you're exploring ice caves, volcanoes, or deserts; the bland textures and colour palettes make traversing them a chore. It especially gets monotonous considering grinding is often required to progress. I played on the normal difficulty setting and didn't have any problem for the first half, but then things started getting very tough. Some bosses were still kicking my butt even after levelling up for what seemed like hours. Finally, without giving too much away, you have to play through a great deal of the adventure twice. Seeing as the environments are as tedious as they are, doing it all over again is quite frustrating. Perhaps they designed it this way to add value but I would have preferred if the journey ended sooner.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a worthwhile adventure for both those who are looking for an enjoyable JRPG to kill some time and fans of the original who want to experience it in a new light. Although it has its problems, I'm glad that I got to play through Fang and friends' story. It's definitely one that I'll think fondly of for years to come.
- + Interesting story full of lovable characters
- + Great music and sense of humour
- + Fast-paced battles mix perfectly with in-depth and rewarding party customization
- - Environments are mostly dull and repetitive
- - Far too much grinding is required
- - Having to play the majority of the journey twice is incredibly annoying