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Fairy Fencer F (PC) artwork

Fairy Fencer F (PC) review

"Fairies Heavily Included."

In a very real sense you’ve already decided what Fairy Fencer F is before you’ve even played it. It’s a Compile Heart game, after all, so it’ll be filled with adorable anime girls going out of their way to provide fan service. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is only slightly true; there’s certainly an element included of the neverending Hyperdimension Neptunia series the developer is better known for, but there’s also a solid attempt to provide a more traditional JRPG experience. Okay, sure, your first party member is a highly strung loligoth with delusions of grandeur and a slight masochistic streak, and the second is a very well-endowed young lady who often has to be reminded to bother with clothes. They’re led by a bumbling idiot who has stumbled into his role as a legendary fencer not for fame and justice, but as an accidental side effect of his constant quest to find something to eat. I’m not helping empower Fairy Fencer F as a unique entry, am I?

Still, the idea behind Fairy Fencer F was to create a more serious adventure, and Compile has stacked the game with legendary talent in an effort to do just that. Long serving Square illumni Nobuo Uematsu chips into a pretty rocking soundtrack while Yoshitaka Amano was brought aboard as a concept artist. Their efforts result in Fang, the ever-hungry goofy lead who amasses a collection of differing goofs to try and resurrect The Goddess by collecting a series of haunted weapons strewn across the world. These weapons, known as Furies, contain fairies that can sync with the people who wield them, thus enhancing their abilities. Fang’s not really interested in any of that, and any steps he takes towards collecting enough power to free The Goddess (and continue to banish The Vile God - when only the most generic of names will do…) seem either accidental or heavily tinged with self-serving.

There’s little about the tale that doesn’t border uncomfortably close to cliché overkill, but the sense of predictability is often overwritten by so many of the things Fencer does right. Taking Neptunia’s combat system and refining it, for one, resonates as an excellent idea. Fighting exists in a traditional turn-based format, but allows you somewhat free scope to position yourself in battle and access to a combo structure you can upgrade throughout the game by investing points acquired through glorious victory.

You can also spend these points purchasing sword techniques and magical options, or buffing the attributes of your weapon. Fiddling around with your combo can be an especially large time sink seeing as you can unlock shifting weapon forms, letting it turn from a sword to things like spears, glaives and guns on the fly. Clever fencers embrace their fury’s adaptability; differing enemies exhibit differing weaknesses to certain weapon types and punishing those weaknesses could prompt allies to sneak in extra blows, dialling up bigger and more damaging combos.

Capturing furies allows you limited customization of the world map, where you can plunge any number of magical swords into dungeons to mess around with their perimeters. Some allow you to gain more experience, gold or weapons points, but offer countermeasures such as lowering defences, annulling any types of healing or obstructing item drop rates. It’s handy, because a lot of the side quests have you regularly delving back into levels already beaten and adding a new slice of challenge peppered with a higher state of reward helps keep the backtracking relevant. What also helps is the oft brevity of these dungeons, most of them offering a single floor or two to power through before the obligatory end-of-stage boss.

Most of my time was spent flirting with the idea of tackling just one more dungeon, or doing a quick grind through a previously gutted stage so I can unlock that one magic attack or complete that pesky side quest. Minutes later, that was done, and I felt I had time saved to blow through a few more. Hours later, I was left wondering where my evening had gone. Fairy Fencer F doesn’t feel like it’s as heavy a workload as it actually is thanks massively to adorable anime graphics (in glorious 60FPS, console bitches!), and excellent direction that has no right to work as well as it does.

Various dramatic twist and turns come and go, and aren’t entirely unsuccessful, but never mind that – that henchman-y sidekick fellow has a comedy Canadian accent that is unreasonably effective at being endearing. You can equip a burnt piece of toast to permanently protrude from Fang’s mouth, should you wish, or graft a plushie version of his fairy to his shoulder. Because why wouldn’t you? Cosmetic changes to your character carry no statistical buffing, so you can either go out of your way to make them look like serious world-beaters or just have them run around in towels lifted from the obligatory hot springs chapter without penalty.

Compile’s plan with Fairy Fencer F was to try and prove that they’re more than an endless conveyor belt of Hyperdimension Neptunia releases, which they have tried to prove by slapping a new IP atop a modified Hyperdimension Neptunia engine. I’m surprisingly okay with this; it’s turned out quite well.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 29, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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