Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force Review

[This game was given as a review copy.]

Platforms: PS4
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Compile Heart

It’s a solid game…after a few hours

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a turn-based JRPG that takes place in a world where the Vile God and Goddess are deep in slumber. You play as the main character, Fang, who accidentally becomes a Fencer by coming into contact with a Fury (a sword in which a fairy resides in) and despite his laziness, he decides to help the fairy (Eryn) of the sword to revive the Goddess, in order to fulfil his wish. A plethora of food.

It’s a simple story really. You have Fang, who we’ve pretty much established already. Eryn, who wants Fang to help her collect all the Furies (not Furries) in order to revive the Goddess and bring world peace. And as for the third main character, there’s Tiara. She’s gets by on her pride and masochistic nature when Fang verbally abuses her, in a friendly manner.

Fairy Fencer F ADVENT DARK FORCE Eryn and Tiara
Eryn and Tiara – Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force

Each of them have their own little secrets for you to find out as the story progresses and the thing is, it only gets interesting when you’re roughly 5-6 hours in. After this point, a bulk of the dialogue isn’t consisting of repeated stabs at Fang’s lazy nature or Harley’s obsession over Eryn’s body for research purposes. This is when things start to get a bit more meaningful and you begin to get a feel for who all these characters are.

But this isn’t exclusive to the story. It’s also the gameplay that takes a while to get accustomed to. For the first few hours, I found that the game picks up when you have a party with at least 3 members at level 15 or so. From here, you start to get more and more fairies to use for world shaping bonuses, resonance effects and perhaps the best thing of all, the customisation of skills, gear and even costumes.

You should spend at the very least, 10 hours for you to become deeply invested in the game. And although the game gradually becomes a dozen times better, the problem I see with this is that no game should have you spend that much time before getting interesting. There’s no real reason to care for much until you spend that much time on it. I do believe however, if you’re a big JRPG fan, it’s worth sticking it out.

Fantastic customisation, progression and personalities

The best parts of the game are the customisation, character progression and surprisingly, Fang, who really does grow on you despite how he acted during the early parts of the game! The customisation goes as far as changing your party members’ costumes (affecting only their appearance), actual armour that affects stats, skill increases from spending a currency called WP and adjusting your combo attacks. You can tailor a character to be great at taking a shrugging off physical or magic damage, or even certain elemental resistances. Although with an ‘aggro’ system seeming to be non-existent, it’s difficult to make a tank character to take enemy attention off your other party members.

Goddess Fury Abilities- Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force

Combo attacks are pretty important in Fairy Fencer and even more so if you’re improving a character’s combo attack stat. What I love about combos are that you have 100% control over what combo you can do. If you’d like to do more attacks that involve launching and pursuing and enemy in the air, you can easily do that. Or maybe you want to mix it up a bit and have ground attacks and air attacks. It’s completely up to you, providing you’ve unlocked these skills with WP!

The combat is turn-based, fast-paced and involves a lot of going through menus (which is irritating, but you get used to it). You can have up to 6 party members on the battlefield at once, which I’ve heard is a big improvement over Neptunia. Let’s not forget the Fairize ability that makes you feel like you’re transforming into a Super Saiyan.

Dealing with the combat can be really frustrating at times. Most of the time, enemies always attack one of your party members. As I said before, there’s not really an aggro system. The one being attacked most of the time is Tiara, and she’s the healer. To make sure you’re not taking too much of a beating, level up as much as you can. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of attempts at Zenke, only to fail because I was simply 8 or so levels too low.

Combat - Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Combat – Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force

Levelling up is one of the most important things to do in the game. But it’s also not exactly the most fun when you’re focusing on it. Grinding out levels can be extremely painful because you’re only options are killing the monsters that give the most experience from the latest dungeon or ploughing through Shukesoo’s Tower. To make it less of a grind, try putting down as many +EXP Furies and +damage increases as you can when world shaping. You can get a good +90% EXP boost with just three Furies shaping a dungeon and it’ll go by far quicker.

The difficulty largely depends on your level

Fairy Fencer F has three difficulty modes. Easy, Normal and Hard. Normal is your standard mode, with Easy mode reducing enemy stats by 10% and Hard mode increasing enemy stats by 25% and giving you a chance to get better items. Hard mode offers quite a challenge, even on some trash packs you might encounter on the way and Easy provides you with a less challenging experience, but not so much that it hurts the enjoyment of the game.

The actual difficulty of the game actually depends on your character levels. Even on Easy mode, you can get wiped out in a couple of hits because you need those extra levels to withstand the attacks. Take the example I gave you with me and Zenke where I was taking 2.5k damage (on Easy) per turn with Fang, who was at 3.6k HP. There was no way I could deal with that unless I spent time levelling up. This is what I like about Fairy Fencer because the difficulty doesn’t depend on the change of a mode, but also on how much effort you put into the game.

Grinding out levels can also get you a lot of money, to the point where you’ll have no issues in that regard and you can keep up to date with the latest potions, gear and items!

Shop - Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Shop – Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force

One other problem I have with the game is that dungeons and side-quests are way too repetitive. While you’ll be venturing through different environments, the goal remains the same. You discover a dungeon, enter it, get passed enemies, defeat the boss(es) and claim the Fury. It repeats this in every single dungeon you go to. What makes it more tedious is that once you will have to do the same missions (even the main story) in the same dungeons later on. If it isn’t so repetitive, this game would be far more enjoyable than it already is.

The game offers a solid, in-depth list of tips under the help section and throughout the game (mainly early on), you’ll be shown these tips anyway. In a lot of games, you can ignore these tips, but in this game, you’d do well to read them.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is actually a solid game. The gorgeous 2D visuals (not so much the 3D aspect during combat), music, voice acting, story and gameplay (after the first few hours) make up for the areas in which it lacks. Each character has a unique personality and while you may not like some of them, namely Tiara, it’s an important thing to get right. If they were bland, I’d have stopped playing fairly soon.

I’d recommend this game to any JRPG fan and only those fans are likely to appreciate Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force.

Score: 75%

What do you think of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force? Will you be playing it?

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