Game Review: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PS4)
18/08/2016 Leave a comment
After the continued success with re-making and re-releasing the Hyperdimension franchise onto the PC and PS Vita Compile Heart, along with publishers Idea Factory International, are at it again with the PS4 release of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force; another JPRG masterpiece that is sure to brighten your day. So what exactly has changed? Well unfortunately I won’t be able to tell you; however an expanded storyline, remastered visuals and a selection of different locations to explore is whats on offer and today we will be taking a look at this latest release of the franchise.
Before we get started it’s worth mentioning that Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force isn’t a sequel to the previously released PS3 game Fairy Fencer F; instead it is an overhauled version of the original game ported to the PS4. Does this mean that Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a waste of time? No; instead it’s actually the opposite as thanks to some clever ‘behind-the-scenes’ work by the development team (Compile Heart) Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force offers an extended gameplay experience combined with new quests and additional endings.
Having never played the original PS3 variation of Fairy Fencer F, although I am 100% certain I owned it at some point; I was eager to dive into this new JPRG world created by Compile Heart who, incase I haven’t mentioned it already, also created my favourite JPRG franchise Hyperdimension Neptunia and within ten minutes of being inside this colourful but unique world it’s easy to see the similarities.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force follows the events, and puts players in control, of the unlikely hero knwon as Fang who after arriving in a small village accepts the challenge of pulling a scared sword out of a stone under the pretence of being granted any wish he desires. In actuality however Fang unlocks access to the latent fairy known as Eryn who reveals that Fang is actually a Fencer and that he must now traverse the world and collect 100 furies, which are actually Weapons in fairy form, in order to revive the goddess that has been sealed away. As you can imagine Fang isn’t best pleased about this turn of events and attempts to shake off Eryn but reluctantly he agrees to embark on this quest to which Fang and Eryn meet new comrades and make new enemies; both of which are in the form of Fencers.
The storyline narrative within Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force can be a rather mind-boggling and tedious one to understand, especially with all of the different explanations involved when it comes to Fairies, Furies, Fencers and so forth; but fortunately enough the comical balance between the characters, especially Tiara – the snobby know it all – makes playing the game a more entertaining experience. Some might argue that Fang’s personality is to ‘downbeat’ for a protagonist and doesn’t work well with Eryn’s bright energetic nature but from my perspective they work perfectly in harmony together as while Fang is always demanding and negative Eryn can be there to ignore him and perk him up; a fact made obvious during Eryn’s debut when all Fang wants is something to eat. It might not make you laugh; but it did to me.
As one might expect the story is progressed by mixing JPRG styled dungeon-crawler gameplay with visual novel elements and as such when you aren’t progressing through a 3D dungeon with your character you will be reading a large amount of text or listening to quirky dialogue of the characters (in either English or Japanese form). The visual novel segments may not be as impressive, or in some aspects immersive, as the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise but it does a grant job of going back and forth with the story and laying the foundations of whats to come. Obviously it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before but as they say if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it; which is exactly what Compile Heart have done. It’s also worth mentioning that Dungeons are not just areas which see you mindlessly defeating monsters as some dungeons will require you to locate keys, of which are usually being held by enemies you need to defeat, in order to progress forward with the game. It’s a relatively simple addition but it adds that further explorative feel to a game that’s usually quite linear with it’s progression.
Potentially spoiler’s aside the progressive gameplay within Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force will see players travel the world via a world map in order to locate new dungeons, explore them and acquire the Fury that is nestling away inside. It’s your traditional 3D based JPRG styled dungeon crawler and those familiar with the original Fairy Fencer F or the Hyperdimension Netpunia franchise will feel right at home here with this variation of the classic play style. Interestingly enough while the world map interaction may be the same, with various locations appearing on the map as you progress through the game, some elements of the map – and some locations of dungeons – can only be accessed when certain Furies are obtained, activated and equipped to your character. Furies or, when all is said and done, are weapons and the more you obtain the stronger your character will become and the more locations you’ll be able to explore.
It’s an interesting tactic whereby the game forces you to locate more furies in order to explore every area the game has to offer; an area which is already reasonably sized before the new content – which introduces two alternative gameplay routes, which are appear as a result of your in-game actions, as well as ending for each female character within the game; which is amusingly a large number. Unfortunately I was not able to sample everything the game had to offer; but it’s clear that even several hours into the game that a lot is on offer and there is a lot to play for; basically you will be here for the long haul so make sure you get yourself comfy.
When it comes to actual gameplay then Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force feels very reminisce to past Hyperdimension Neptunia titles as upon entering a dungeon players are able to freely navigate around a large area. While navigating these areas players can pick-up items scattered around or choose to engage with enemies by walking up to them; and of course those who attack the enemy before it touches you will ignite an advantage known as ‘pre-emptive strike’ for your side. When it comes to combat then, once again just like in Hyperdimension Neptunia, players are able to freely move around a limited space and perform a variety of attacks.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that the combat in Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is turn based and a list of each characters turn is displayed on the left hand side of the screen. In some JPRG games the combat can seem tedious and dull, especially in some variations of Final Fantasy titles, but with Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force the combat is so swift and fast-paced then you might actually miss it if you blink. As mentioned you can move your characters in a limited area but unlike Hyperdimension Neptunia the range is a lot wider; furthermore you can also attack during this same move. This means you can easily move your character into position and then attack all in the same turn without the fearing of being attacked yourself. The major difference between Hyperdimension Neptunia’s and Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force’s combat mechanics is that you can only attack once per turn; but obviously some elements of the game (other than character and storyline) must be changed.
As with all good JPRG’s players are able to perform a variety of actions during combat and it’s no different here within Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force as not only can players perform simple attacks, which in the case of Fang is a simple sword slash, players can also used magical abilities for stronger attacks or perform a fusion based transformation known as Fairize. This ‘Fairize’ ability sees your chosen character fusion with the weapon and as a result become stronger, faster and be able to perform more destructive attacks. It’s an ability which needs to be earned during combat; but once obtained it brings a heavy amount of damage to your opponent. In some aspects this ‘Fairize’ ability could be considered the Fairy Fencer’s variation of the HDD Transformation in Hyperdimension Neptunia as the fundamentals are pretty much the same.
Whether it be viewing visual novel dialogue elements, exploring a wide-open area or engaging in a battle Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force offers a lot of game time and a lot going for it; but of course in order to aid you in this monstrous quest is equipable items, weapon perks and all-sorts of special items. Mainly Furies are your characters source of power and by equipping or combining those furies you will be able to create a stronger more powerful protagonist. It’s a unique feature, and one that I think is exclusive to Fairy Fencer F; but it is one that can be difficult to get to grips with – which is a shame but every JPRG title has at least one feature we find difficult to get a long with.
What Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force offers is a re-polished variation of Fairy Fencer F ported to the PS4 for those that missed out on it’s original release and it’s obvious that Compile Heart have put some effort into making this ‘re-release’ something different by adding additional content. The first hour of the game clearly features a whole section thats new to this PS4 version and while later on the new additions may not be entirely noticeable they are in there; especially when it comes to the alternate endings and female companions.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is an ideal game for those that are fans with the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise; and while this game features its own universe with it’s own set of characters the gameplay mechanics and control scheme are fundamentally the same; but of course if you didn’t enjoy Hyperdimension Neptunia then you may not enjoy this ‘alternate’ game either due to its likeness. For me; Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is an entertaining game that starts off simple but gets increasingly complex the further you progress; and as such you’ll find yourself spending several hours at a time playing this time. As I said before; you’ll be here for the long haul.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is now available as a digital download and as a physical release for the PS4 within the UK and Europe; alternatively the original ‘Fairy Fencer F’ game is available for the PC and PS3.