Title: Fairy Tail
Release Date: July 31, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
When Gust announced they were creating a Fairy Tail RPG, I was excited to see how they’d take on the license. Typically, Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force team handles anime licenses by producing Musou titles and calling it a day. While I do believe the Musou formula could have worked with Fairy Tail, I think letting Gust take this project was an excellent opportunity for them. Without relying too much on other games they’ve developed, Gust has created a traditional JRPG experience within the Fairy Tail universe. Some elements end up not really working out, but there are some standout moments of gameplay that will hold that attention of any fan.
Fairy Tail is set over multiple arcs from the series. You’ll realize right away that this game is for fans as minimal backstory is provided for the characters or their current situation. Still, I believe it was the right choice to begin the game after the Fairy Tail guild returns from Tenrou Island after Seven years. It gives players a chance to have a direct impact on the regrowth of the guild and sets up some of the more memorable moments of the series.
For starters, the Grand Magic Games introduces some antagonists and powerful narrative where we learn more about the past of these characters. I think these portions of the game are amazing, and thanks to an autoplay option, you can simply sit back and watch the scenes play out as if you were watching the anime.
The entire story leads to the development of the Fairy Tail guild and building it back up from nothing. Eventually, when it comes together, it is rather satisfying. Allowing players to have a direct impact on the growth and renown of the guild was a great way to keep the pacing up. It slows down dramatically when you near S rank, but I can only attribute that to the fast pacing of the first half.
The characters are everything in Fairy Tail, and Gust seemed to take advantage of that by including original story scenarios between each of them. They showed their love for the cast as they expanded on relationships while also forming new interactions that weren’t in the manga. Triggering these moments is also tied to game progression as characters can unlock new passive and active abilities during battles.
In many ways, the battle system stays true to traditional turn-based RPG mechanics. However, instead of relying on Attacks, players have access to a wide range of magical abilities. As character levels increase, their magic becomes more powerful. Enemies appear on a grid, and players must choose the best magic to use for the situation.
Battles become increasingly difficult over time, but understanding your party member’s elemental traits and abilities make some situations more accessible. There are also special magic attacks that party members can link together to cause massive damage to all enemies on the field. Furthermore, the characters can use a Unison Raid attack, which is a spectacular attack. The animations for the abilities are pretty great, but some of Lucy’s attacks are exceptionally long, which made me wish that I could skip specific animations.
The gameflow of Fairy Tail revolves around growing the rank of the guild, which means you’ll have to complete side-missions. Some of the missions are simple fetch quests that make no impact on the story. These quests are basically enemy hunting quests, and there’s no end to them, you will be doing them from beginning to end.
However, the best thing about them is that it means you won’t really have to focus on level grinding. As you complete quests, your level will be relatively high so that bosses won’t be too difficult. Still, these quests, along with material delivery missions, do become tedious and almost mindless to the point where they just feel like padding.
Thankfully, there are story-based missions where you are forced to include certain party members in your group. These missions are more entertaining thanks to the story bits, but they end up being exactly like the other quests where you have to defeat a specific enemy. The side-mission structure is exceptionally basic and it’s the most lacking system in the game; sadly, it’s also where you’ll spend most of your time doing.
After you complete quests to earn points and gather materials, it’s time to develop the guild. Upgrading the guild offers even more passive and active abilities within battles. There are also ways to improve each of the characters individually using guild points to make them stronger and unlock costumes and other skills.
The biggest issue is how it’s tied to the simple game loop of running into a dungeon and following the map to fight some monster, gather some ingredient, or talk to some NPC. It never changes, which has you eager to get back to story missions. However, story progression is stopped when you need to raise the guild’s rank in order to progress. I dealt with this by clearing out all the missions before advancing the story, so when the roadblock came, I was already at a high rank.
Thankfully the battle system is a lot of fun, and the character interactions make the entire adventure worth it. Reliving some of these moments from the Fairy Tail series was exciting, and I’m sure fans will appreciate the attention that went into crafting this fully realized world. As no surprise to some, Gust also brings their soundtrack skills to the game to make the adventure even grander.
Fairy Tail covers some of the best story arcs from the series, but sadly that requires players to chug through uninspired quests to witness them. Luckily, the battle system is engaging, and that character interactions are consistently entertaining. This is a game for fans, and it shows during every moment of the gameplay, which might turn away newcomers in the long run. Still, I had a great time hanging out with the Fairy Tail guild and helping them return to their former glory.
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