Fairy Fencer F Review
I had a lot of fun with this one.
Fairy Fencer F is kind of a unique experience among JRPGs. It throws a tremendous amount of stuff at the wall, and most of it actually winds up sticking pretty well. It's a game where you can release an ancient evil god for special powers, accumulate sword spirits like crazy, have to pay an info broker repeatedly to progress in the story, and where the hero really doesn't want to do anything he doesn't have to.
And it is brilliant. More, as always, below.
Fairy Fencer F begins with it's hero locked in a dungeon and asleep. From this noblest of beginnings, the player is introduced to Fang. Fang wants nothing more than to eat and sleep and not much else. Accompanying Fang, however, is a fairy named Eryn, the spirit of his sword. Fang pulled Eryn out of a tree, and from that point on he is tasked with finding the "Furies" locked within swords so he can unseal the Goddess and she can once again preside over the land. Fang is warned, however, that other "fencers" are out looking for powerful furies, and he'll have lots of competition if he wants to unseal the Goddess and bring the world back to its rightful place.
What this entails is a staggering series of subsystems, from boosting your stats to giving your characters new abilities, to giving the characters bonus powers. On top of all of this, is a system that awards you stat boosts and various power-ups for doing things as simple as jumping up and down a hundred times. While the game doesn't feel very big at first, and the simple map/town interactions don't do a lot to dissuade that notion, it's what happens when you get into the interlocking systems that really makes the game pop. Something as simple as grinding your jumping ability, for instance, immediately moves you up in the initiative order. You use your spirits to gain new lands to explore, giving you stat bonuses and resistances based on the fury's power. And it keeps going up from there.
The one issue with the game is that it takes a lot of grinding to do things. Something as simple as leveling up a combat power can sometimes take killing every single enemy in a level. There's a whole ton of systems, but each one requires a ton of points and money. There is a lot to see and do, and the amount of grinding you have to do is kind of tremendous to get anywhere. Combined with the game's lack of an auto-save or save anywhere feature, suddenly the difficulty curve gets a lot more difficult than it usually would be.
The game is well worth it, though, as it has a sense of humor about itself (and other JRPGs). The characters lean on the fourth wall just enough while still committing to the premise that it's really funny, and having the bosses comment on their place in the story is hilarious. Similarly, Fang's reactions, which range from "No, please, no." to "What the hell did I just do?!" help keep the tone fairly light.
In the end, if you're looking for a good, innovative JRPG with a surprising amount of depth and some interesting plot turns within its "Get the plot coupons" plot, then I would go with this one. While it might be prudent to wait for a sale, you should definitely pick this one up.
Full Disclosure: Reviewer received a Steam review copy of this game