Title: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Developer: Compile Heart
Release Date: January 17, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Idea Factory International
When it comes to niche JRPGs, I’ve found greatness in their presentation. Usually, these games star a zany cast of characters with an over-the-top premise. However, there’s always something to take away from the story and cast such as the importance of friendship or bravery, you know the stuff JRPG nerd love. Similarly, the battle system in these games seems to evolve what’s expected from turn-based systems.
Compile Heart’s Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force has a lot of these JRPG tropes but also adds some unconventional gameplay additions that make it unique when compared to the developers other titles. This review will be based off the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which brings with it pro as well as cons.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is based in a world that was once the battleground for the Vile God and the Goddess who have since been sealed away. However, events are unfolding where the assistance of the Goddess is needed and freeing her is of the utmost importance. Players are introduced to Fang, a male character who sort of just coasts by life. In an attempt to get some free food, he pulls a sword out of a stone which not only ends up being a Fairy named Eryn but also turns him into a Fencer, with abilities that we’ll bring up later. She partners up with Fang and urges him to collect “furies” who are other powerful weapons found around the world.
Although Fang is nothing special, the supporting cast grows rather large and they make the story quite enjoyable. Throughout the game, players will meet new party members, both good and evil, who will join their team across the game’s multiple routes. What’s interesting about this story is that there is a nice balance between male and female characters, which I don’t usually see, especially ones who are playable.
There is a lot of text in this game which features main events and sub-events full of conversations between the characters. These weren’t so bad considering the English audio is great and do a goes job of bringing the scenes to life, but there is also a Japanese audio option. Conversations are usually comical, but the game does have some serious moments that reveal a side of Fang that is actually pretty respectable. I enjoyed the interactions between characters and the game does a good job and making their friendship feel believable, even though they all just met. Also, Tiara is best girl, just saying
At first glance, the battle system can seem pretty barebones with only attacks and minor skills being available to players. However, it does end up evolving into a fairly complex and unique system thanks to the layers of customization available to the players. As characters level up they’re allowed to upgrade their stats using points. Furthermore, these points can also be used to extend the character’s combos, which gives you even more customization options to decide whether you want to launch an enemy into the are or hit them on the ground. Additionally, Fencers can switch to Fairize mode when the tension of the battle is high enough and boosts all of their stats as well as unlock new abilities.
The battle system does get more complex as the game goes on and, over time, there is a variety of different ways that the player can approach a battle. Similarly, each character has a unique special ability that allows them to buff their stats. These different options in battle make fighting stronger enemies pretty unique, but the lower level enemies will only require normal attacks to defeat which means the flashy extra skill and abilities aren’t always needed depending on which difficulty you’re playing on.
Players can also customize their fairy weapons which can get pretty complex depending on how powerful you’re trying to get. This game is no walk in the park and can often test your abilities in battles, so the difficulty options can really help players out if they are having a tough time. Let’s get back to the weapons though, each weapon can attach a Furie card which will add effects and buffs to the character. They will also level up and get more powerful as the player fights. Furies are given a rank that usually addresses their power level, but they are all pretty unique and their designs are reminiscent of cards from Magic the Gathering.
Level designs aren’t too complex, but they do vary between themes. Events will require multiple trips to these places so they can get a bit repetitive at times. The same goes for the enemies, but at least the boss designs were all pretty cool. If you’re playing on a tougher difficulty, of course, level grinding will be necessary, but thankfully to speed up this process there are skip action animation that will get you through battles extremely fast. This mechanic helps lessen the fatigue of hanging out in a dungeon because level grinding can be sped up to get you out of that dungeon in record timing.
The Nintendo Switch version does come with a handful of issues. Running on the Switch, some areas of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force seems to look a little dark to the point where it’s tough to see what’s in front of you in dungeons. At first, I thought it was my television or settings on the Switch, but nope, it’s definitely the game. Also, there are a few times where I experience strange slow down in battles and was surprised to see a lag when I’m removing a sword from the goddess, even in docked mode. However, my biggest gripe with the game is the quality of the town icons on the world map which look like colored smudges. The developers have stated these problems will be fixed, but as of the morning of launch day, there is no patch available.
That being said, this is a version of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force that you can take on the go with you and play through a dungeon or two on your commute or enjoy some of the comical sub-events. The Switch version also has all the DLC available for the game, which sets you up to hit the ground running in dungeons.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re open to these niche JRPGs then this is one of the best. The crafting and battle customization are one of the biggest appeals for me as it felt balanced and was deep enough to have me constantly be accessing if I wanted the most out of it, but also approachable and not difficult to understand, thanks to the game’s menus.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a good RPG that just happens to be a little less than that running on the Switch. Although I had a great time playing the game again, it’s easy to tell that the PS4 and PC versions are superior. However, the Switch’s mobility offers a great way for busy players to play on the go and experience this awesome cast of characters over a compelling story. Offering multiple playthroughs with different endings, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Force is a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch owners looking to dive into a lengthy JRPG adventure.
[UPDATE] Idea Factory International has released a patch:
- Improvements to frame rate, gameplay stability, and overall performance.
- Additional graphical effects added, including Bloom and Depth of Field.
- Fixed crash issues occurring in certain areas.
- Fixed the zoom issue during the opening movie/title screen.
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