It’s true: Compile Heart RPGs aren’t for everyone, even longtime JRPG fans. Their signature tone and flair for fanservice ranges from Hyperdimension Neptunia’s all-female cast of questionable quality to Record of Agarest War’s tactical T&A-filled epic narratives.
Fairy Fencer F falls somewhere in between those two extremes. Despite a few failings, this game puts together a solid experience driven by characters and a rewarding gameplay system.
Fairy Fencer F comes to the West via NIS America. It tells the story of Fang, a young man who accidentally becomes a wielder of fairies who transform into weapons. That is, a Fencer, and gets sucked into a quest to revive a goddess and get his partner’s memories back.
By count that brings the game to about four or five used and abused tropes, but it isn’t done yet. As Fang sets out on his journey, a whole gang of ragtag misfits signs on. Including a talking animal, a noble, and a gorgeous scientist who is actually a slob. Fairy Fencer F deals out quite the hand of well-designed characters whose archetypes have been seen before.
The characters themselves are, however, very well executed. Complete with both a Japanese and English voice track, of which the English track is mostly preferable, each character’s acting leaves almost nothing to be desired. Their personalities are surprisingly interesting, and seeing their unique quirks gradually get revealed as they depart from their archetypes is rewarding.
As they act out the main plot of the game, Fairy Fencer F’s surprising plot strength takes the stage, though it takes a couple hours or so to really get going. The prologue and initial stages stumble and fumble their way through character introductions and exposition, but once the various entities and characters are revealed the story takes off with a bang.
The story, of course, is focused on fairy fencing. Fang and his crew are tasked with finding Furies, weapons with fairies residing in them, and using them to unseal the Divine Goddess. Competing elements like rival fencers and the suspicious Dorfa Corporation are the primary enemies, so fighting them along with the monsters infesting the world takes up most of the game.
Combat is Fairy Fencer F’s core element. The player’s characters run about a circular arena in a turn-based fashion on a 3D map. Each character has a limited attack range and a movement range each turn, making the positioning of characters and attacks a crucial tactical element. The active party is limited to three participants despite a roster double the size. Inactives can switch out with those on the frontlines, however, so a total party kill is hard to achieve.
Characters wield their partner fairies as weapons, and each weapon takes one default form but switches to others as the user wishes. Attacking takes the form of skills, magic, and combos. Characters can have anywhere from one to four attacks in a row, and each corresponds to a different weapon and motion. Their combinations are pretty numerous, and along with each characters’ super mode (called “Fairize”) and unique special command, combat is interactive and overall enjoyable, if at times a little repetitive.