I’m gonna start this with review with full disclosure from the start. I have never seen Fairy Tail and have absolutely no clue about the anime, it’s story or even its community. I have however been looking forward to reviewing Fairy Tale since I saw it been played on stage at EGX last year.
Anyone who knows me knows I love a good RPG and will willingly throw myself into a new franchise if it even hints at being a decent game. Having a mindset like that is what lead me to absolutely love Atelier Ryaz.
Coincidentally Atelier Ryaz and Fairy Tail were produced by Koei Tecmo so I was fairly certain this was going to be another JRPG that I would enjoy even though I knew absolutely nothing about the source material. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with Fairy Tail.
I’ll admit I was quite worried that I wouldn’t understand the story or content of Fairy Tail due to my complete lack of knowledge of the franchise but even though the story is a mash up of two different series, with the prequel being a separate story arc as well (according to my Twitch community).
However, I found I was able to pick up the story and understand what was going on pretty quickly. It is easy to grab the concept of each character and not only their personalities but their relationships with other characters.
As mentioned above my Twitch community informed me that the story is a blend of the Grand Magic Games arc and the Tantaros Arc, whilst the story from the end of Tenrou Island serves as the tutorial.
The tutorial actually works quite well as you take the strongest guild in the world, become trapped in a fairy stone for seven years and now it is your job to rebuild the guild to its former glory. Whilst I have never seen the anime or manga this was quite easy to understand and also works as a great game mechanic.
Seven years have passed. Your guild headquarters has been gutted to pay your debts, your rivals have gotten stronger and your guild reputation has slipped from legend to forgotten. The task laid before you is simple. Restore Fairy Tail to its former glory.
Fairy Tail has a hell of a lot of RPG mechanics that have been implemented incredibly well. Everything from levelling up characters with EXP, levelling up bonds with guild members, upgrading guild facilities etc can become overwhelming in most RPG’s but Fairy Tail implements all these systems simply and with ease. It never feels cluttered or imposing and allows for smooth gameplay and progression.
The turn based combat is fantastic especially when paired with the grid system for enemy layouts. Different moves attack in different patterns that can lead to some extremely satisfying battles. especially when you build up your fairy gauge and just unleash absolute carnage on your enemies with ridiculously over the top chained magic attacks.
Each character also has their own awakening gauge which when full can be activated to access a new set of magic attacks and in some cases (depending on the character ) even heal health and mana.
Surprisingly all these attacks, gauges and moves have been brought together in a control system that is most of the time a single button press. It is beautifully simple and effective and allows for a smooth gameplay experience and battles.
Fairy Tail is simply beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. Again, having never seen the anime I have no idea how close it is to the source material but the characters, setting, magics and colours are just beautiful. Unfortunately the way the female characters are drawn (oversized breasts and tiny backsides) is so jarring it does take you out of the game and ruin the experience quite a bit. I know it is anime and it is the Japanese style but I personally just find it pathetic and unnecessary.
Fairy Tail is a pretty decent and highly functional JRPG with a hell of a lot of systems and mechanics that have been implemented perfectly. Fast travel around cities and areas make the game quick and accessible but the upgrades and side missions quickly become an incredibly grind. My biggest problem with FAiry Tail is that whilst it has a lot of mechanics and content within it is incredibly on the rails and unsatisfying.
In other 30 hours of gameplay i haven’t lost a single fight or ever been in danger of losing. You get told when you MUST do side quests to progress and you never really seem to have the freedom to explore and build your team at your own pace. This gives the sense that Fairy Tail is holding you hand every second during the game and that becomes incredibly deflating