Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is an updated version of Fairy Fencer F on PS3, a game I’ve also reviewed and loved, and it’s even better now that it’s come to PS4.
If you’re unfamiliar with Fairy Fencer F, then the story follows Fang who recently became a Fencer after pulling a sword out of the ground when nobody else could. A Fury called Eryn, a magical being, popped out to greet Fang as her new partner where they’ll travel to find other Furies so that they can free the Goddess. Fang is a little rough around the edges but the cast, particularly he, Eryn and fellow Fencer Tiara, all show great character development and the plot moves along at a quick pace where the dozens hours of playtime don’t feel quite nearly that long! Although the aim of your goal is to aid the Goddess in her battle against the Evil God by removing swords from her statue, you can choose to pick either side or both and whatever you do determines which ending you get.
This is still one of Compile Heart’s best developed and most engaging works, providing a few twists and turns and spectacular character development that makes my second playthrough with it a joy. Instead of 3 characters you can now take 6 characters into battle and fight more enemies than before, and there have been tweaks to make the game more difficult to accommodate the new party size but if one thing is easier, it’s picking your favourite characters to take into battle! Fairy Fencer F is a turn-based game which plays very similarly to Compile Heart’s other series Hyperdimension Neptunia in that you can move your characters around during their turn before choosing to unleash a physical or magical skill, or using an item or choosing to defend or escape. Some skills can attack several or individual enemies so it’s up to you whether or not you focus on the most threatening enemies first or try to take as many out as quickly as possible.
Gameplay-wise Advent Dark Force is mostly similar to the original version of the game, and you have your world map where you have to plant certain Furies to be able to access new areas – this can sometimes be pretty vague, though. There are side-missions to undertake and the main story should take you maybe a couple dozen of hours, and there’s replay value in the multiple endings as it’s not quite as simple as making a second save to do another ending from as the journey to getting your desired ending takes place over the course of the game. It’s the story details that make Advent Dark Force picking up if you’ve already played the PS3 game, but the new gameplay elements are welcomed and work towards making this feel like more than just a simple remaster.
There’s been noticeable visual improvement, particularly where the framerate is concerned which was less than desirable on PS3, and having new playable characters gives you a whole new slew of animations to gaze at. It’s a colourful game ripe with characters seeping with personality, a variety of areas ranging from lush greenery, snowy fields and fiery volcanoes. Character design is top-notch and whilst the characters themselves can be a bit tropey, it’s hard to deny how lovable they are and how wonderful they look. Character’s strongest abilities are grand and bombastic with a brief animation showing them perform the attack, although this can be a little lacklustre if it somehow manages to miss!
Fairy Fencer F sees voice-actors and actresses reprise their roles for any new lines, and they’re as excellent as they were before. Kaiji Tang, Natalie Hoover and Erica Mendez return as Fang, Tiara and Eryn respectively, and they’re joined by the talented Erika Harlacher, Cristina Vee, Christine Marie Cabanos, Kira Buckland, Kyle Hebert and many more notable names from within the industry – you’ll likely recognise these voices from countless games and anime where they’ve always performed outstandingly. Idea Factory’s soundtracks always have something that is undeniably Idea Factory about them, and this is no different and that’s in no way a bad thing! There are plenty of adrenaline-pumping tracks to accompany you into battle and a few more relaxing or solemn ones for downtime and emotional moments.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Forces makes a great game even greater and whilst it won’t change the minds of those who didn’t like it originally, there’s fresh new content for those who want to play the game again – I’ve enjoyed my time with it the second time around and I still think that it’s potentially Compile Heart’s best game, especially mechanically. I’d love to see another installment in this series but if it never happens, then at least we have the definitive version of the game so that we can experience it in the best way possible.