Game Review: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (Nintendo Switch)

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After being re-mastered and re-named with new content for the PlayStation 4, and then later ported to Windows PC (via Steam), Compile Heart’s action-JPRG Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force has arrived on the Nintendo Switch courtesy of Ghostlight Games and Idea Factory International.

Unlike past releases however this Nintendo Switch releases features all previously released downloadable content bundled together with the base game; but that aside what can one expect from this game and more importantly how does this Nintendo Switch release compare with its original PlayStation 4 release? Let’s take a look and find out.

Title: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Publisher: Ghostlight Games
Developer: Compile Heart
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: English & Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (8.7GB)

Our View:

For those unfamiliar Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force isn’t a sequel to the previously released PlayStation 3 game Fairy Fencer F and instead it is an overhauled version that was re-developed for the PlayStation 4 (and then later ported to the Windows PC) before being ported onto the Nintendo Switch. Does this mean that Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force on the Nintendo Switch is a waste of your time?

No; it’s actually the opposite as thanks to some clever ‘behind-the-scenes’ work by the development team Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force offers an extended gameplay experience combined with new quests and additional endings; but more importantly than that it is the first JPRG developed by Compile Heart to be released onto the Nintendo Switch within the west.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force puts players in control of the unlikely hero known 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. Unfortunately for Fang he 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 and in turn retrieve Eryn’s memories.

Fang, who just wanted to wish for food, isn’t best pleased about this turn of events and attempts to shake off Eryn at every chance he can get; but after much deliberation he reluctantly agrees to embark on this quest. This quest sees Fang and Eryn travel the world in search of furies and in the process meet new comrades and encounter new rivals; of which are also Fencers wielding different abilities and furies.

The storyline narrative within Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force can be slightly confusing and a little bit tedious to understand, especially with all of the different explanations involved when it comes to Fairies, Furies, Fencers and so forth; but fortunately for us the comical balance between the characters, especially Tiara – the snobby know it all – makes this narrative 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. Tiara’s personality is also a stark contrast to Fang and Eryn’s own personality and as such we have a wide variety of personalities on screen that constantly clash and provide some form of entertainment. Of course these are just three of the many characters you’ll encounter throughout the journey as later on you’ll meet noble princes with pride and justice as well as a shy girl who is incapable of talking directly to others. Each character is not only unique; but entertaining as well.

As one might expect from this type of game the story progresses by mixing turn-based JPRG gameplay with visual novel elements. As such when you aren’t progressing through a dungeon with your team of characters you will be reading a large amount of text or listening to quirky dialogue of the characters (as both English or Japanese audio is included). The visual novel segments may not be as impressive, or in some aspects immersive, as other games developed by Compile Heart but it does a grand job of going back and forth with the story and laying the foundations of what’s to come.

Obviously the presentation of how these conversations are displayed to the player is 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 has happened here. It’s also worth mentioning that Dungeons are not just areas which see you mindlessly defeat 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.

Dungeons may also have alternate routes which lead to new enemies and treasure; so it’s also worth exploring each new dungeon. These are relatively simple additions but they add that explorative feel to a game that’s usually quite linear with its progression.

Potential 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 turn-based JPRG styled dungeon exploration experience and those familiar with the original Fairy Fencer F or Compile Heart’s 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 can only be accessed when Furies have been obtained. Furies are an integral part to the game; whether it be unlocking new dungeons, equipping them to your character to boost stats or even using them to Revive portions of the Goddess and having more makes moving forward a lot easier. Basically Furies 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 addition of new content courtesy of the ‘Advent Dark Force’ aspect of the game. Unfortunately I was not able to sample everything this 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 and thanks to the portability of the Nintendo Switch this exploration can be done both at home and on the go; something which past iterations have failed to provide.

When it comes to actual gameplay then Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force feels very reminisce to Compile Heart’s Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise, 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.

As mentioned before 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 turn.

This means you can easily move your character into position and then attack all in the same turn without the fear of being attacked yourself. At first you’ll only be able to attack once per turn but as you progress through the game and learn more skills you will be able to customize attacks which will allow you to chain together attacks for combos during a single turn.

As with all good JPRG’s players are able to perform a variety of actions during combat and it’s no different here 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 fuse with the fury 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.

Furies are your characters main source of power and by equipping or combining these furies you will be able to create a stronger more powerful selection of characters. It’s a unique feature and will aid you in combat, especially as you progress through the game, but it is a feature that can be difficult to get to grips with at first.

Collecting Furies and activating the ‘Fairize’ ability is not the only option available as players can also obtain equipment, weapon perks and all-sorts of special items; most of which can be equipped. Although equipment can be obtained through regular gameplay this Nintendo Switch release does contain all downloadable content and as such a small selection of powerful items and furies are available for use right at the start of the game. This can either be a helpful tool or a buzz-kill so caution is advised. As an example equipping a high-levelled DLC item will result in enemy attacks doing no damage at all; thus making boss fights an absolute breeze and a little bit boring.

Equipping high level items and Furies to your character is not the only way of getting stronger as WP points, of which are obtained during combat, can also be used to upgrade the stats of your character. As an example Attack, Defense, Magic stats can all be upgraded to higher levels; additionally new types of attacks and magic can also be ‘purchased’ by using these WP points. These options may seem ‘hidden away’ within the menus (I didn’t find them until after three hours) but they can boost already boosted stats which are earned by levelling up after each fight in dungeons.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force on the Nintendo Switch brings all of the enjoyment of the PlayStation 4 (and Windows PC) experience to Nintendo’s hybrid console; but it’s not without a few problems. Firstly the game features an inconsistent frame-rate and different portions of the game will run at different speeds. For instance exploring a dungeon and engaging in combat will produce varying results; while battle animations (such as special abilities and the Fairize ability) will run at the full FPS. Visual novel and world map interactions meanwhile will also run at the target FPS. Basically the game has been poorly optimised and (for me at least) feels like i’m playing the Windows PC version of my standard computer.

It’s not just the inconsistent frame-rate either as at different portions of the visual novel elements the audio will cut-off if ‘Auto-Play’ is selected. Fortunately this doesn’t occur all the times but (if like me) you prefer for the visual novel moments to auto-play than it is concerning that you may miss off part of the conversation or be cut-off mid-dialogue. In the grand scheme of things this is just a small issue, especially when compared to the inconsistent frame rate, but it is something worth mentioning for those that use this feature.

Although I can overlook these issues it is concerning that Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Foces on the Nintendo Switch features random game crashes. These can occur at random and they will force-quit the game to the Nintendo Switch home-screen and display a error message. So far this has only happened twice; but that’s twice more than I would like. My advice would be to save often as at least that way you won’t lose much progress if the crash does occur.

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 is a lot of fun to play. This Nintendo Switch release brings everything from the original PlayStation 4 experience, which in itself featured new content and revised features, and expands it with all previously released downloadable content to offer the definitive Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force experience to date.

Although it does have issues Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force on the Nintendo Switch 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 and thanks to this Nintendo Switch version you can now take the adventure anywhere.

Score: review-stars-4

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is now available as a digital download for the Nintendo Switch from the Nintendo eShop within the UK and Europe and is also available for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PC (via Steam). Alternatively the original ‘Fairy Fencer F’ game is available for the PC and PS3.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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