Genre: Fantasy anime JRPG
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games CO., LTD
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games CO., LTD
Release Date: July 29th 2020
Edited by AlexKnight2005
Anime shows receiving a series of videogames is nothing new in today’s market, ranging from more obscure and unique to more traditional styles of games like RPGs and platformers. Fairy Tail is a singleplayer fantasy JRPG developed and published by Koei Tecmo Games Co, Ltd. This JRPG follows the cast of characters from the popular anime and manga Fairy Tail in an original story outside of the series with some fun gameplay.
Just like napping after a long day, the story of Fairy Tail starts as a sleeper and becomes more interesting as the player proceeds further into the game. We, the player, begin our adventure with the crew of the Fairy Tail Guild during one of their toughest battles when to survive after a dragon is summoned, they cast magic together. Our story then jumps forward several years, where the Fairy Tail Guild has become a former shell of itself and the members of the battle have reappeared after that seven-year absence. With renewed vigor, the crew vow to rebuild the guild, just like they did years before but know that darkness always finds a way to come back.
While I found the story of Fairy Tail to be interesting, as it pushes more heavily focuses on the side of character development, my biggest issue simply falls to how long it takes for the real story to take over. I have always supported when a game uses character growth as a plot point, more so to aid in the actual story plot and while Fairy Tail does do this, it takes a solid three to four hours to get that development point in the story.
Rusty and ready to prove itself, Fairy Tail’s gameplay focuses heavily on spell-based combat, an open-world exploration system, missions that tie into the guild’s rank itself, and plenty of side stuff for the player to do. To start, let us begin with the game’s core content or the guild mission board. As the player, you will undertake missions from the guild mission board to help improve the guilds rep and ranking from the bottom of the rank leaderboard to the top. These missions are varied, so while you will find some that get old fast, specifically the slaying monster missions in my case, many of these missions were different and a good time all around.
Missions are a key factor to the player’s success but the open-world exploration and to a finer point, the sheer detail in recreating some of the series locales deserves a spotlight of its own. It is impressive what the dev team behind Fairy Tail was able to do, given the scope of some locales but the large hub world cities were fleshed out and given a breath of new life in this aspect. The guildhalls also get a mention here because they also got fleshed out more than I expected and are given a life system all their own.
The guildhall also plays an important role in the player’s success, as these open but confined spaces act as the player’s hub for all things story-related, excluding costume changes. The guildhall is your mission launch center, alongside your shop, crystal creation and a few other key specifics special operation zones you unlock and upgrade as you progress in the story itself. These upgrades not only change how certain portions of the guildhall look cosmetically, but also give buffs, both passively and actively to the characters you are using.
You have chosen your mission, checked your characters, and entered a wild zone, it is time to engage in combat! Combat is one of the easily unique aspects of Fairy Tail, given its focus on the spell-based combat, or constant use of spells instead of the traditional physical attacks. Each spell will have a varied amount of spaces it can hit, on top of special effects, and the application of crystal effects you have equipped to that character. This crystal effect can vary from a chance to poison a target to inducing stuns. Your spells also power two types of meters, an awakening meter, which can grant a bonus to some stats for a select number of turns or a special meter, which is powered through all characters, allowing the player to enter a spell chain. The spell chain has a few special components to it as well, union attacks as an example but it acts as a form of an all-out attack, allowing for some long and powerful burst spell chains that can be used in some spots in the wild zones.
As fun and to a degree, how deep the gameplay of Fairy Tail is, it is far from perfect and shows the most blemishes thus far. To begin, you have to hold down the key or controller button to accept missions, enter stores, talk to people, essentially any move that needs an action input, leading to some unneeded slowdown in the gameplay. Add on top of this that some mission request types become grindy over time, specifically extermination mission requests, as well as no ability to skip combat animations to shorten combat experiences and you, begin to see the few but noticeable faults.
Doing its best to follow what fans of the series, at least the anime, in this case, know the presentation of Fairy Tail is nearly or as close to what you see in the show, line art, and all. Visually, I felt like this was the smartest direction you could take for a game like Fairy Tail, as the art style has a distinct black line art to it that reminds me a bit of the Borderlands series, with more polish. The backgrounds follow suit in this art style, with many of the zones varying in degrees as you can easily jump from the bright and colorful to darker tones like greys and they feel natural to the world Fairy Tail is set in.
While I want to give the same praise to the character models, that is where the splits begin to show. While the character models are the same as you see in the anime, due to the rendering or something, the character’s mouths do not move unless they are in a premade cutscene. So you can have characters talking but it just feels off when they don’t have any mouth movement. This only shows more in combat, when some characters open their mouth in an up-close shot and it is stiff with little or no breathing animation. Character customization is also lacking, considering how many wardrobes these characters have had over the runtime of the show and manga.
Also following the notes from the anime in this situation is the soundtrack, which I had to go and listen to but in this case, it is spot on what you expect from the show. Musically, Fairy Tail’s soundtrack is a heavy mix of various genres and instrument types that do not seem they would work together but oddly do. Most of the soundtrack, in this case, tries to play towards the element of magic and it does work, though I cannot say it is as memorable as I would like it to be. The sound effects though are on point for the magic style. Here they provide much more swishing and other noises of magic casting, with the occasional clang or clash as some characters do use swords as a magic catalyst.
As the dust clears the arena floor, I thought Fairy Tail was going to be a hit or miss but instead, it strikes many cords in just the right way that as an open-world JRPG adventure, it works and while it is not perfect it does work to bring to life a story that both fans and non-fans alike can enjoy. The slow-building but interesting story, use of character growth as a story mechanic, one of the most fun and easy to get behind combat systems, the keeping of the visual and musical identity of its core series and you have a JRPG that can bring most anime fans a good time.
- The deep and more interesting as it develops the story
- One of the best uses of character growth and development in a story to date
- A spell-based combat system that is fun and inviting
- Keeps the identity of what makes Fairy Tail itself in the visual and audio departments
- A surprisingly fun and in-depth open-world JRPG, even for non-Fairy Tail fans
- The story can take a few hours to kick in
- Action button requires the player to hold it down to trigger
- Combat can become repetitive and grindy
- Lack of mouth movement make characters seem stiff, especially in the facial animations
DarkLunarDude gives Fairy Tail a Drastik Measure of 8.0 out of 10.0 (80)
For the price of $59.99 on steam, this one is an easy recommendation from me as an open-world JRPG, as long as you can forgive or overlook a few of the systems of the game that slow down a player’s progress. As a note, Fairy Tail does have a season pass for the game but at the same cost as the base game, I would purchase with caution, as all four of the purchasable characters do make appearances in the core game, with three of them having combat in the game before this season pass.