Fairy Fencer F probably looks extremely familiar to some, even though it’s the first game under the Fairy Fencer banner. With names like Yoshitaka Amano and Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame attached to it, chances are it has attracted some people outside of the more niche JRPG fanbase. To anyone who has played the Neptunia series, that’s exactly why this all seems so familiar. Much of the same Neptunia team was involved in development, and it even uses an altered version of Neptunia’s battle system.
Unfortunately, Fairy Fencer F’s big names fail to save it from lacking in most components of the game.
From the start, the entire cast of Compile Heart‘s newest game is majorly annoying. Fang is so cynical that it stretches from being a bothersome personality flaw to horribly unbelievable. He stays that way the entire game, up until maybe the last couple of hours of events.
There are a few others, none of which I found particularly interesting enough to salvage any cutscene for me. Harley exists for the sole purpose of fanservice, while Tiara and Eryn flirt with Fang the same way I did as a ten-year-old on a school playground. It grows old fast. Don’t worry though, this only continues for thirty-something hours.
Fairy Fencer F is also another one of those games that give you the illusion of choice or impact on how the story plays out. This would probably make for a more interesting point if the choices weren’t limited to the response between a cutscene with Eryn and one with Tiara. Pick the right one with either girl and you ride off into the sunset together.
The only reason I knew these cutscenes were important was because a friend had told me in advance. Turns out I didn’t care either way though, and just picked something and ended up with Tiara. They’re both pretty unlikable, and I wasn’t particularly eager to see Fang live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, the characters and their relationships are not the only relentlessly frustrating thing about Fairy Fencer F. I soon grew tired of the environments as well. Nearly every single map looked the same, and I often became confused as to whether or not I had actually been there already.
There’s a system in Fairy Fencer F that allows players to boost certain areas using the power of the swords and their respective fairy. In order to unlock a new area on the map you had to use one of those swords over an area marked with a question mark. The marked areas were the only thing that kept me able to determine whether or not this was a new area.
As I played, I broke the locations up into four different types. I was always exploring an icy area, lava area, grassy area, or some tower. They all looked the same though, give or take a couple of unique nooks and crannies. It made the game feel like it only had four locations to visit over its entirety. If I hadn’t been specifically told these locations were to serve as something new, I would have never known.
The redundancy of the game early on was already bothersome, but it only got worse as Fairy Fencer F became guilty of one of my biggest pet peeves in gaming — asking me to replay the entire game again.
There comes a point in Fairy Fencer F’s story when they decide it’s no good and time for a retcon of it all. When I hit that point, I seriously considered stopping. There’s something incredibly lazy about asking a player to go back and do everything again for what really just seems like for the sake of making the game longer. I would have rather Fairy Fencer F concluded somewhere around that point in the game and just accepted it as a short RPG. I’ve played a ten-hour game before, that’s fine.
So, is there really anything redeeming about Fairy Fencer F? Unfortunately, the answer is a stern no, not at all. If you’ve already picked it up hoping to hear the legendary Uematsu compose another hit, I’m very sorry. Whatever Uematsu contributed to the OST is bad, along with the rest of it all. Think of the most annoying Power Rangers theme you’ve ever heard, and imagine hearing it every five minutes or so for a day. That’s almost all of the battle music in Fairy Fencer F, and everything else is pretty forgettable. Music is always one of my favorite parts in most JRPGs, but something went tragically wrong with Fairy Fencer F.
Sure, Fairy Fencer F has gorgeous character models and all, but I could only enjoy them during cutscenes. Otherwise, the framerate is so unstable while roaming different areas, and the camera can never be still long enough for me to focus on my character. A pretty package does too little to save tragically awful contents.
If you’ve played the Neptunia games, then you already have a pretty good idea of the combat. The battle system is solid, and I did like the way you could level up certain weapons. Transformations are an entertaining element to battle so long as you mute the TV, but even if Compile Heart had managed something remarkable and new here, the game still falls flat on its face.
The PlayStation 3 is at the end of its life. However, Fairy Fencer F was released during a time of strong competition. With Sony’s last generation hardware so bountiful in terms of JRPGs, the newest Compile Heart game isn’t one I would recommend, unless you’ve already cleared most of the PlayStation 3’s JRPG library and are desperately seeking one more.
Otherwise, do yourself a favor and pass on this one. NISA does a fine job localizing other titles much more deserving of a spot on your shelf.
Fairy Fencer F was developed by Compile Hearts and published by NIS America exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
A copy of the game was supplied to Save/Continue for review purposes.