Fairy Fencer F was developed by compile heart and it’s kind of like a spiritual successor to the hyperdimension Neptunia series. In fact gameplay wise the mechanics are almost identical, but unfortunately it doesn’t manage to quite live up to that series and we will go through why in this review. The story in this game is in one word ‘faries’. You see ,you have a fencer who controls the fairy when wielding them in battles. Naturally you have some evil villains who want to control all the faries for World domination or some such thing. But all you really need to know is that this game is trying to be kind of edgy, which doesn’t work out at all, because it’s.. about faries. Anyway the characters are pretty 2 dimensional as you might expect and although the art style is nicely detailed, the actual character design is kind of anodyne, and the main protagonist in the game called ‘Fang’ is a bit on the tiresome side. As for the rest of the characters, they do have some vaguely witty dialogue in cutscenes sometimes but the rest of the time they spend reminding you of what cardboard cutout their personality is supposed represent.
When you stack up the visuals of Fairy Fencer F to say Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2 you can see they look pretty similar. This is because Compile Heart is still using the same game engine in 2014. Considering that this game looks like a PlayStation 3 launch title, this is not good at all. Now mediocre visuals don’t really bother me but tin his case it reminds of when Fallout 3 came out on the old Oblivion engine and everyone bitched about it, and then when New Vegas came out on the same tired old engine people where even more pissed off. The difference is that Compile Heart have released 4 games on their now archaic engine, to add insult to injury, even if you decide to do the optional 3.5gb install for the game it still chugs. That’s right a game that looks like in 2014 can not manage a consistent 30 frame per second. In the positives for the visuals department, the special attacks in this game are glorious, you will feel like your power level is over 9000 guaranteed. The biggest strength of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series was in my opinion the sound. However the soundtrack in this rather less successful in this game. While the battle music is usually quite upbeat and fitting, for some insane reason compile heart decided that using songs with lyrics was a good idea, and this really takes away from the experience.
The voice work is passable to fairly good, the female voice actors tend to do a slightly job than their male counterparts although this seems to be almost always the case in video games for some reason. Early on cutscenes will be interesting, the ones that are voiced anyhow but because the plot is dull and edgy you’ll probably ending up skipping a lot of the cutscenes later on.
Onto the meat of any game, the gameplay itself. The battle system in this game is basically a polished version of that seen in the hyperdimension neptunia series, only you don’t have to worry about using buffs and debuffs all the time in order to defeat the enemies.
This game uses an active turn based battle system so whilst there is clearly a turn order you can move around during your turns in order to line up Area of effect special attacks and the like, you’ll also be able to pull off lightening combos where you get to attack with all of your party though this feels mostly random.
The biggest aspect of battles is to build up your combo meter, the little purple bar at the top. This will allow you to ‘Fairize’ which gives you hyper powerful attacks and better combos. You can also use spells to deal extra damage to enemies who are weak to certain elemental based attacks, although the enemies with the exceptions of bosses are generally pretty easy so you’ll end up mashing buttons far too much of the time.
It only takes a couple of hours before what, I would like to call ‘battle fatigue’, sets in. This is where you pretty much aren’t paying any attention to stats, and are reliant on audio cues to tell you when it’s time to use a potion to heal or whatever the case may be, this because you’ll be so damn bored from having played out 100 similar battles in a row. Outside of battles you can explore the map using world transform which is basically where you stake faries you’ve gained through the campaign. It’s very basic, and you can even pay for the information on where to get faries. It’s really pointless since all you’ll end up doing is beating dungeons in an order that is pretty much pre-set.
The game does allow you to customise your characters stats to by using WP points, so you’ll be able to increase your attack, defines and learn stronger spells through the menu as you progress, there is also an option to synthesise potions and other items in the main town’s shop but it’s not exactly a big part of the game.
Lastly you have side missions, and sure they do add more game time, but they always consist of either killing X number of this monster, or fetching this random item from dungeon Y. Half of the quests are even labelled fetch. Now you may think I hate this game, and that simply isn’t the case. I do however find it to be tiresome and ultimately not worth however many hours I ended up putting into it.