Fairy Fencer F was shown at E3 this year and I didn’t see much of the game during my meeting with NISA. The game has it’s moments and it is a solid JRPG, but it does have some problems that were really hard to ignore. The game is toned down when compared to games like Mugen Souls that boast massive character development and grinding, Fairy Fencer F is much more modest than NISA’s recent titles.
A lazy young thief decides he wants to make it big, the easy way, by wishing for an unlimited amount of food. He is able to obtain his wish by pulling a sword out of a boulder, thus he is stricken with confusion when his wish is not granted immediately. In a case of “Do you agree to these Terms and Conditions”, our hero must collect and free 100 furies to resurrect the Goddess of Light and God of Darkness and his wish will be granted. The people that search for Furies are known as Fencers, and as the main character learns, searching requires effort and lots of monster killing. This is just the basic premise of the story. Obviously there is more than meets the eye and you will meet a wide variety of characters that all have weapons that utilize Furies.
On the surface, this is a very NISA game. There are anime tropes, a moe main character, and plenty of grinding. Below the surface is a game with a well executed combat system that is still limited to the restrictions of game size. What I mean by that is the combat feels like it could be more if the game was just a bit bigger. I am getting ahead of myself.
Fairy Fencer F has a rather large cast of playable characters and they all use shape shifting weapons called Furies. These weapons allow the user to cast magic and have enhanced combat potential. Each fury has a fairy embedded to them that bonds to the wielder. These creatures I very diverse and outside of battle, you will interact with them during cutscenes and small events.
Combat is similar to Mugen Souls and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. You roam around the battle arena to get the right positioning to hit as many enemies as you can with skills/magic. Your basic attacks can be combo’d into each other to generate more damage, but this is restricted by the development system. “WP” is a resource you get like EXP or money. You gain it after every battle and you will unlock more combo potential with different weapon types when you spend enough WP.
Take and deal enough damage and you will be able to “Fairize” and this is a mode that increases all of your stats and allows access to a very powerful skill that you must spend HP to use. Every character has their own Fairize skill set and you have access to this mode at the start of the game. You would think that this mode is broken because it is very easy to access. But it is balanced by two factors. If you heal and if you miss an attack the gauge decreases.
Character development is very standard in the world of JRPGs. Get enough WP and EXP to unlock more skills for your character and buy equipment to make them more resilient etc. What makes FFF unique is the Fury system. In accordance with the story you have two gods. To release them you must release 100 furies for a wish to be granted. Once you acquire a new fury you will unlock the potential to give it more skills. Once the potential has been unlocked you can equip it to a character. Then, that party member will have the skills the fury has along with stat upgrades. The Fury gains EXP along with the party member as well, so finding the perfect fury for the perfect party member is essential for creating a team that controls every battle.
Onto the stuff I don’t like, the framerate is rather jarring while running around. It doesn’t feel optimized and it can give you a headache if you try to focus on it too much. Environments in FFF are very generic, this is a disappointing trend with NISA games lately. One area will look exactly like another one and the only difference is that the new area has more corridors to wander around in.
The game also does a poor job helping you find items for side quests. I have quite a few hours invested in Fairy Fencer F and I had side quests for finding certain items since the option for these quests was unlocked. You can’t find them by looking in the game’s bestiary or journal so it makes for a lot of unneeded grinding. The same goes for getting WP. Everything you need to upgrade with WP becomes too expensive too fast. There are ways to earn more WP per battle but it still takes forever to get 200 points just so you can unlock a passive skill that will allow you to unlock a combat skill. It isn’t balanced and while the game moves quickly and it is a fast paced RPG, the need for grinding to unlock extra skills halts the game entirely.
I want to like Fairy Fencer F, but it is challenging because the game becomes way too difficult to power through because of how unbalanced it is. NISA fans will enjoy this game, but if you want a Final Fantasy esque RPG, you will not like FFF at all.
I give Fairy Fencer F for the PS3 a 6/10. You can pick it up on the PSN or at your retailer.