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Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PlayStation 4) artwork

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PlayStation 4) review

"Fang's adventure doesn't have quite the same bite this time around"

Have you ever found yourself wanting a game to just end? In my short career reviewing games, I've not yet felt that sensation myself. I came really close with Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, though. Even worse, I know it's my fault.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is ostensibly a remaster and expansion of the original version of the game that debuted on the PS3 in 2014. The update features the entirety of the original game, now in 1080p and running at 60 FPS, and also adds new content that expands on the world seen in the original. Unfortunately, itís a bit difficult to tell where this new content even can be found.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PlayStation 4) image

For those who havenít played the original, a recap is in order. Fairy Fencer F opens with Fang, our selfish, lazy and apathetic hero, escaping from prison after being arrested for stealing food. His escaped is aided by Eryn, a fairy that resides in a sword that he pulled out of the village square. As a wielder of this sword, known as a fury, he is now honor-bound to help collect more furies and revive a slumbering Goddess. As you can expect, itís not as easy as it sounds. Fang first has to grow into a hero, over the course of his arduous journey.

If youíve played the original game on the PS3, you'll notice that Advent Dark Force hasn't added much at the beginning of the campaign, aside from two new dungeons. Where this expansion mostly comes into play is the mechanic that allows Fang and pals to either awaken the Goddess or the Vile God by pulling furies out of their respective bodies. The original game only had two endings that focused on the two heroines, but Advent Dark Force diverges if you choose to pull swords from the Vile God, or from both potential bodies, rather than focusing exclusively on the Goddess.

My main issue with this setup is that it isnít communicated effectively to players who may have played the first game. Going into Advent Dark Force, all I knew is that I should expect some new story content. With this new content being referred to as an expansion, I assumed it would come after the original game ends. You can imagine my surprise upon clearing the campaign, when the credits began rolling and there still had been no new content of any particular significance. To make matters worse, I had experienced the exact same adventure I remembered from the PS3 game for 35 hours, in the vain hope that new content at the end would make the retread worth it. I was wrong, and all of that time felt wasted as a consequence. Itís my fault, like I said, but I do feel that Advent Dark Force could have done a better job of communicating the steps necessary to find its new content, if only as a favor to those who have already played through the original game.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PlayStation 4) image

As for the actual gameplay, itís largely unchanged from that original release. Advent Dark Force is a turn-based RPG that borrows heavily from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. In combat, playable characters move within a circle and have a range in which they can attack enemies. From there, characters utilize a basic combo system, skills and magic. Each character also has a fairy partner with which they can merge, to temporarily boost their stats. I felt that skills and magic were hardly ever needed, since I could steamroll through foes while relying only on basic attacks, except for when I faced off against some truly difficult (but optional) bosses. Those fights were the real standout for me, as I finally had to flex each character's skills and magic in some interesting ways that weren't necessary elsewhere.

The major change to the combat system this time around is that the number of active party members has been increased from three to six. I thought this might lead to overly easy battles, as I've previously seen Idea Factory increase active battle participant counts in other games without balancing enemy encounters to keep up with the modification. In this case, however, the developers seem to have overcompensated. Later battles now feel like a slog, with even lower level enemies having too much HP for their own good.

In terms of character progression, nothing much has changed. Every party member still gains EXP and Weapon Points. The latter is by far the more important of the two, as itís the currency characters rely on to augment their stats, buy skills and magic, and to expand their repertoire of combo attacks. Said attacks fall into one of many types, including sword, greatsword, launcher, gun and so forth, and they allow pretty deep customization for each character. Granted, most players wonít have to mess around with attack types too much unless theyíre playing on the new Hard mode, which more or less requires it.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PlayStation 4) image

My favorite feature from the original game is back in Advent Dark Force, and largely unchanged. Players can stab furies into the ground to grant various buffs and debuffs to characters while theyíre in dungeons. These can include increased experience, money or weapon points, but each buff comes with a corresponding debuff, such as decreased attack or defense. Itís a neat way to mix a risk/reward system with the standard dungeon exploration, and one that I especially appreciated when grinding for weapon points.

Like all Idea Factory games on the PS3, Fairy Fencer F ran pretty poorly. And like all Idea Factory games on the PS4, Advent Dark Force runs really well. Thereís not been a bump to the visuals, other than in the few new dungeons that were obviously built with the PS4 in mind, but the increase to a solid 60 FPS is a welcome addition. That's especially true after the original ran at a pretty consistent 20 FPS.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force isnít a bad game per se. In fact, I would say itís a pretty fun JRPG overall. My main gripe is that it's mostly the same game I already played two years ago. Thereís new content, but itís unnecessarily difficult to find. For those who have played the original game, you have to ask yourself if you're ready to have mostly the same experience a second time around. I was getting pretty tired of it near the end, and learning how to access the new content after the fact doesnít exactly have me amped to immediately jump back in and give it another go. Besides that, Advent Dark Force simply isn't as ambitious as Idea Factoryís original PS4 games, like Neptunia VII and Omega Quintet. Itís a solid enough pick if you never played the original, but those who have already tread that particular path would be well advised to check out the developerís more impressive PS4 offerings before investing time in this one.


Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (July 23, 2016)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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Phazonmasher posted August 02, 2016:

A little update: I stand behind my review of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. I do believe the game doesn't properly explain itself to returning players that a narratively useless mechanic from the first game is suddenly important. With that being said, I'm finally getting into said new content during my free time, and it's pretty good. It's a major step up from the original game. If you've already played the original Fairy Fencer F, I would recommend Advent Dark Force only for the new content.

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