Friday, February 17, 2017

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (PC) Review

Fairy Fencer F was a new RPG from Idea Factory when it debuted a few years ago.  Since then, the original was ported over to Steam (and looked good), and had a re-release with new content on the PS4 (which was fun), titled Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force.  Now that has also been ported over to PCs.  The cycle continues.

The Advent Dark Force release doubles your battle party to 6 people, and adds two new story routes through the game, for many hours of additional content.  Battles are turn-based.  Each character has a movement radius that you can move around in as much as you want, until you do an action.  You attack has a radius as well, but you can only attack one enemy in it.  The characters also get combos that allow you a lot of freedom and customization once you start to purchase moves.  Stronger moves have more wait, which will make subsequent turns happen a little later, so there is a kind of balance to it.  If you have played any of the Neptunia games on PC, the battle system is similar to that, and you should feel right at home.

Each character gets a few special moves and spells, which take SP to use, and can be extremely useful to eliminate several enemies, or to do big damage to a boss monster.  There is also a meter around the character's portrait that allows you to combine with your fairy partner.  This is called Fairize, and gives you ridiculous and awesome mecha armor.  Oh, it also allows boosts your stats, changes the battle music, and gives you access to a powerful move if that's what you want to focus on.

For the most part, the story flows like most other RPGs.  Get a bit of story/dialogue, enter a dungeon, defeat the boss, return to town, rinse and repeat.  Dungeons are 3D areas that you can run and jump around in, while encountering enemies on the map.  A great twist is the faries that you get throughout the story can be bound to the swords impaling the Goddess and Vile God.  These swords, called furies, can then be used in world shaping, which allows you to stab them into the world map and provide modifiers to any dungeons they touch.  For example, you could have one that gives extra experience, but lowers money gain, or even one that changes the enemies that appear in the dungeon, but lowers magic damage.  You can place several around a dungeon, too, if you want multiple effects.  I would prefer less negative effects, but I can't deny you can get some great effects out of it, especially if you stack the extra experience!

My PC is an i7 with 16gb memory, and the game ran flawlessly.  I mostly used a controller, as the game plays so much better with one.  The keyboard works, but the layout is strange to me.  You could go through and re-map all the keys, but I find just plugging in a controller to be far easier.  The frame rate was stable and very smooth, although the graphics themselves didn't quick look as nice as the PS4.  It could easily because of the distance difference from monitor to TV, though.  My only problem with the PC version is the dungeons had a smokey or fog-like filter over the screen.  This extended to the battles, which made them appear washed out but still kind of bright.  It's not the whole game, since this effect disappears during a character's special attack animation, and during the godly revival fights.  I didn't see a way to turn it off, and it was fairly distracting.  On the plus side, the first cave dungeon wasn't too dark, as it was on the PS4 release.

I really enjoyed the PS4 release of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, and the PC release on Steam is no exception.  The only real issue I had was the fog effect, but I would definitely recommend fans of the first release get this one, even if you have to start over.  The extra content and changes are worth it.

The Good:
I enjoyed the original release, and Advent Dark Force brings good improvements and a lot of new content.

The Bad:
Sadly there's no way to transfer your saves from the original's release, so you have to play the game all over again.

The SaHD:
I'd love a way to use the first Fairize music every time, instead of the later version.  Also, I unabashedly used the Nepgeardam heads because why not?

(Review code for Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force was provided by the publisher)

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