Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force Review
One Dimensional, Unlikeable Characters in Predictable Plot Land
Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force (FFF) is a long, tedious slog of an RPG, filled with the same trope characters that inhabit many an uninspired game and anime. Expect to spend a lot of time with lazy guy, irritating girl, prim girl, too few clothes girl, and way too polite guy, watching as they have absolutely pointless discussions and arguments, drop nonsense names about powers, gods, and magical macguffins, and generally do nothing to keep the player engaged in any way. Which is a shame, because the game itself isn’t too bad.
FFF tells a story of twin gods getting locked in a huge battle, and stabbing each other in place with a few dozen swords. Years later, Fairy Fencers can find these weapons scattered around the world, many of them inhabited by a fairy who will join the person who finds the sword. When Fang stumbles across one, pulling it free, he finds himself saddled with a fairy partner and a mission to find the other blades.
Now, put simply, I cannot stand the cast of FFF. None of them has any individual personality or character beyond the trope that they represent. Fang, our hero, is lazy, and so everything he says revolves around food, sleeping, or avoiding being a hero. The game painstakingly makes every single sentence he says focus on this in some way. Same with his fairy partner, Eryn, whose entire lot in life is to harp on Fang for being lazy. That’s all they ever talk about.
This doesn’t improve with the addition of new characters. Tiara acts like a haughty, prim princess all the time. Harley periodically almost acts like a human being, one that has thoughts and characteristics, but she’s one of the very few, and is hardly enough to salvage this sea of tropes all talking to each other in the same ways in every scene, just with different events. Imagine this group in a buffet, and how these single-minded personalities would talk to each other. Imagine them in a dungeon. I guarantee you can predict exactly how they will interact with one another, because it is always the same with these trope characters in anime and games. It’s the same, and it is dull.
Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release: February 14, 2017
Intel Core i5-4690K CPU @ 3.50 GHz
8192 MB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
It took everything in me not to start skipping the story altogether within the first hour. It’s good that I didn’t, because it does eventually get interesting, but it takes far, far too long before it becomes anything close to tolerable, and the whole time, you choke down reams of bad dialogue and plot. FFF has an interesting background story working through it, but the writing does nothing to actually engage the player with it.
When the characters finally shut up, you can get to the gameplay about finding those swords. They’re all contained within various dungeons around the world, many of which get as tired as the characters before long. They’re typically a handful of rooms stuck together with little rhyme or reason, making exploration uninteresting, and they all pull assets from each other after a while. The ice cave was similar to another, previous cave I’d played less than an hour before, looking like a palette swap of that previous dungeon. There were some differences, but overall, it was far too similar, which is especially bad in game that already sends you to the same dungeons multiple times.
Fighting the monsters inside, thankfully, is interesting. Players will start combat with monsters in the field, and can hit them to get a pre-emptive strike. If you miss-time your swing and the monsters blunders into you, they get an ambush. There’s not much difference between these, though, as you get two turns in a row after the enemies get a turn in an ambush, but you go first in pre-emptive, so you get a bit of an advantage either way.
Combat involves movement, as each character in a fight has a range they can freely walk in, as well as spells and abilities that will aim based on where the character is standing. It’s all very straightforward and easy to use, so you’ll be positioning yourself and attacking quickly, and with ease. Attacks also happen fast, wasting little of the player’s time.
That’s honestly the best part of combat – you can whip through it. Attacks are launched fast, enemies and players jog around at a brisk pace, and it all feels like it was designed to keep from wasting your time. However, many of your more powerful attacks take a long time to cast, and enemy magic spells drag on and on (and use the exact same effects over and over again), making what was once a quick combat system take way too long.
There are a handful of mechanics that are meant to make combat more interesting, but just leave it all tangled and confusing. You can merge with your fairies to increase your defense and damage output as well as unlock new attacks. That one’s simple, but there are also weapon weaknesses you can factor in, break points, and a few other combat abilities. They may be something players will need to make use of when playing on higher difficulties, but they don’t add much on normal difficulty or lower. You don’t even need to learn them for those modes, arguably.
Not that the game will let you avoid taking tutorials on them. FFF is ham-fisted with its tutorials, explaining every aspect of the game in detail (including story elements) the moment it comes up. These walls of text do little to make sure they actually make the ability make sense, though, introducing many mechanics that won’t come into actual, useful play for several hours. They excel at breaking whatever narrative or play flow you have going, and they happen constantly during those first few hours when you’re just trying to get comfortable playing the game. Introducing them later might have made them more useful, or letting me choose when I wanted to read them.
Don’t expect the music to drag you in to the emotional experience of Fang being lazy and Eryn harping about his laziness for the millionth time, either. The music feels very weak and generic, lacking any sort of flourish or interesting touch. They add nothing to many of the game’s areas, offering simple melodies and predictable tunes to each area. It’s serviceable, at best.
The same can be said of the game’s presentation. Much of the game is conveyed with still pictures of the characters, their mouths flapping as the exact same picture of the exact same character doles out plot and dialogue over a new background here and there. There’s little sense of urgency or character within these scenes, as their images change so little most of the time, and you never get to actually see these characters in motion during scenes of tension or emotion. The still-picture storytelling route has become increasingly popular over the years, but it’s a weak technique, and FFF is no different.
The game also does everything in it, besides dungeons, in this style. There’s no walking to shops or dungeons or exploration, as it is all done by clicking on a map. It does streamline things for the player in a hurry, but there is little sense of adventure in clicking on a location and talking with a still picture, or going to a four-room dungeon (that looks like one you did an hour ago) by highlighting it on a still map. It feels like an RPG for people who have no time for RPGs, providing the bare bones of play, presentation, and story to get the player involved.
“Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force has far too many issues to keep a player engaged.”
You can use your fairies on the map, though, which adds an interesting element. You discover new areas by plunging fairy swords into the ground, and each of these weapons has an effect on the dungeon, often giving bonuses or downsides to the player and enemies. They don’t offer many drastic changes, but it’s a nice touch to be able to adjust enemy strengths if you’re having trouble.
The furies you capture are good for a few more things besides messing with dungeons – freeing the gods. You can start pulling swords from either god in this side world, gaining new powers for your equippable fairies along the way. One is good and one is bad, though, and your actions will have an effect on the storyline beyond giving you new powers, though, which is actually interesting and fun. You get a real sense that you are unleashing something you might not fully understand as you do it, and it is the one moment in the game that felt engaging, even if it was still mainly menu-based.
Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force has far too many issues to keep a player engaged, though. The story and presentation are bare bones and without any thought to character or narrative. There’s just no reason to keep wanting to hear these people talk to each other, because every conversation is basically empty fluff that just reminds you that they’re one-dimensional, offering nothing beyond periodic exposition. The combat is fast, but once you’re out of a fight, all you have left to look forward to is more repetitive dungeons which lead back to the lame plot. It’s repetitive, filled with tropes, and only offers a handful of interesting moments, making for an RPG that is serviceable at best.