Sunday, January 4, 2015

Game Review: Fairune

Action/Puzzle RPG; 3DS eShop; Circle Inc.; 2014
Welcome to the new year..... For some reason it seems just like the old year, except I now have the first stages of a cold. That's the problem with living with others, once one of us gets sick, it is only a matter of time before it makes the rounds. Anyway, this week I'm going to review a small eShop game again (get use to that, there was a lot of games that went on sale over the past few weeks). This time it is Fairune, another game brought to us by our friends at Circle. But how does this adorably retro game hold up? Let's find out.

PS: I know about XSeed registering the title "Lord of Magna" so don't mention that.

If illusion is reality, then what is real?
Welcome to Fairune, a nondescript fantasy world. A great evil is encroaching on the land, and the only force that can stop it is the three spirits. You are the maiden of legend, foretold in the Ancient Codex. Now you must venture forth to free the three spirits and save the land from the great evil.... And that's pretty much it for the story. Nothing unique or surprising, just the most generic opening for a fantasy game ever. But I kind of think that is the point.

Awww, I wanted the Sword of Stabbing Things.
If you are looking at these screenshots and think "Wow, this game looks like those really old action RPGs from the NES and early SNES days. You know, like Ys." then you are 100% right. Fairune is very much a tribute to those older games, especially with it's ascetics and music. However, if you are expecting a simple but fun Action RPG you're fresh out of luck here. Combat, if you can call it combat, revolves solely around you running into enemies and instantly defeating them. You can defeat any enemy that you are equal level to, or who is one level above your own just by running into them; however, you will receive damage for your efforts based on the level difference (1 damage if their equal to you, 2 damage if they are a level higher, and so on). On the other hand you CAN'T defeat any enemy of higher level than that, but on the flip side all enemies BELOW your level are defeated with taking no damage (you also get no experience for it). And that is the depth of the combat in Fairune, so why play the game if battles are so simple. I'll tell you why: Exploration and Puzzles. The real core to this game is in it's exploration and item based puzzles. There are several puzzles in this game requiring being incredibly observant to the environment trying to find hidden passages, or using various items in your inventory to progress. Some of these puzzles are simple, rub this item against this square to move on, but there are others particularly late in the game that REALLY require you to think outside of the box. And while there are some points in the game where I was completely stumped as to what to do next, the solution never came off as being illogical or needlessly obtuse. It is easily one of the best adventure games I've played.

Unfortunately this game isn't without it's flaws. Much like pretty much every Circle game I've played, it's biggest flaw is that it also has required grinding. There are a few points in the game where you have an item you need to get, but the only way to get it is to kill all the enemies on screen, and as I said that REQUIRES you to be at a certain level to do so. This causes the game to come to a screeching halt while you are trying to get murder enough to slaughter the room full of enemies. Fortunately, Levels come very quickly in this game so it's not as big a deal as it is in other games, but it is still annoying. Also, this game is incredibly short. Even with all my instances of wandering around muttering "What do I do?" I still beat the game in little over 2 hours. However, the game does offer replayability in the form of achievements for various accomplishments like beating the game in under 1 hour. So with that in mind I give this game:

Fairune is 100% a call back to the older RPGs like Ys. It's simple and charming and while it fails as an engaging Action RPG, it really does work as a Puzzle-based Adventure game. And while the moments of mandatory grinding are annoying, it's short and simple nature makes it great to just revisit again and again getting a little faster and beating the game in a little less time each run through. It is only $3 on the eShop, so it is cheap enough to warrent checking it out. And if you do play it, DO NOT look for any of the solutions online or on Miiverse. Figure everything out on your own. Fairune comes Recommended.

Until next time.

-Crescent, I killed Mushrooms, I must be the legendary hero!

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