I love playing games based on anime and manga but sometimes, they don't quite hit the mark so here's the underwhelming Fairy Tail.
I've been a huge fan of almost everything that Gust has developed over the years, especially their Atelier games. So, when I saw that Fairy Tail was developed by them, I immediately became interested in playing it. At first, I thought it was based on a spin-off of One Piece considering its characters look like they belong in that universe but after some research, I was surprised to learn that Fairy Tail has nothing to do with that franchise although many folks swear that its creator was heavily influenced by it.
With that out of the way, Fairy Tail is one of the most lighthearted RPGs that I've ever played and that's something that I truly appreciate. From its bubbly and often silly cast of characters to its premise of simply trying to improve your guild to be the best in the land, its story is full of delightful scenes and personality that really make its world shine. Add in a fantastic Japanese voice cast, colourful environments, and expressive character models and you're left with one memorable game world.
The gameplay loop within Fairy Tail merely involves completing quests in order to earn reputation, currency, and items so you can upgrade your guild. This immediately reminded me of the Atelier series although progressing through Fairy Tail is far less rewarding. For starters, Atelier games usually feature a wealth of involving mechanics that work well together to create a consistently immersive and satisfying formula. Meanwhile, Fairy Tail primarily has you initiate a quest then travel to its destination only to fight an easy battle or retrieve an item. On the plus side, I found upgrading and remodeling the guild's facilities to be rather rewarding, especially because you have to reclaim rare materials to do so. With that said; even upgrading your guild is quite mindless as it doesn't require any decision making or strategy.
Admittedly, there are other tasks to accomplish yet none of them offer any sort of substantial challenge. Some quests involve certain characters and bonding with them can be rather fun but besides that, they definitely don't differ much gameplay-wise. You'll also fetch items for NPCs which is considered Community Service and check off Guild Rank Goals which may require some grinding. There's also the Grand Magic Games which ranks the guilds based on their performance in a tournament. It's very basic stuff indeed.
As I've mentioned, Fairy Tail is incredibly unchallenging. When you first start a new game, a prompt appears that asks you if you want to play via easy mode so you can enjoy the story. I obviously chose not to yet for whatever reason, the campaign didn't pose any sort of difficulty whatsoever. Even taking on enemies that were way above my current level constantly resulted in my victory. Sometimes, I'd be on the brink of defeat yet a character would swoop in and revive my party or one of my party members would get a second wind then defeat their adversaries with ease. It's so unchallenging that I had to double-check to ensure that I wasn't on easy mode.
Speaking of fighting enemies, the battle system in Fairy Tail is clever on the surface yet it's executed poorly. Beforehand, let me just mention that progressing your party members is exceptionally barebones as all you do is level up and equip Lacrima which provides additional boosts. Besides receiving bonuses from enhancing your guild, that's basically it. Anyway, your enemies are scattered amongst a grid and you cast spells in order to hurt them. Many spells can harm multiple opponents so choosing the ones that'll damage the most is essentially all you have to do. Occasionally, you can perform follow-up attacks and a powerful Magic Chain when its gauge is full which I guess adds some variety. As a result, the battle system is simply boring and lacks any need for strategy or critical thinking.
After playing Fairy Tail for a handful of hours, you'll look at your accumulated time and wonder what else you could have done with it. For example, you could have been playing something much more enjoyable, I can guarantee that much.
- + Lovely cast of characters within a consistently lighthearted world
- + Progression is somewhat rewarding, especially improving your guild
- - Gameplay loop and quests are monotonous and full of mindless busywork
- - Severe lack of challenge throughout
- - Battle system is downright boring