Despite very little knowledge about Fairy Tail, I’ve been excited for Koei Tecmo and Gust’s role-playing take on Fairy Tail for quite some time. The world of Fairy Tail seems to lend itself well to the genre with its bright colors and eccentric characters. Gust has also made some pretty enjoyable games out of the Atelier JRPG series, only making me more intrigued by Fairy Tail. Sure, I’ve never actually watched Fairy Tail, but most of these games tend to start the story from the beginning and let players get to know the world and characters. Fairy Tail is an exception, instead, it assumes that everyone who plays the game is already a fan of the franchise.
Fairy Tail opens up about a third into the anime/manga’s story, which is a puzzling decision. Rather than quickly breezing through all of the introductions, the game opens with a significant battle against a big villain in the Tenrou Island arc. About ten minutes into the game there is a seven-year time skip in which all of the characters realize that the rest of the world has gotten stronger while they were essentially frozen in place. The main party vows to get stronger and then the game opens up.
It all feels a bit rushed, and the rest of the game mostly assumes that the player has prior knowledge of the franchise. There is very little character development, and there aren’t too many small slice of life moments that usually makes JRPGs charming. Instead, I feel like I got a summary of most of Fairy Tail‘s major arcs while playing through the game This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since every moment feels consequential. There is rarely a dull moment if you are invested in the story. There are also a few original scenarios in Fairy Tail, which is nice for fans itching for new content since the original story has ended.
Quests are a bit underwhelming in Fairy Tail. Most quests, main or side, revolve around finding something and killing something. There are a few fetch quests here and there, but overall there isn’t much variety in gameplay in Fairy Tail.
Fortunately, the game’s combat is engaging. Fairy Tail is full of magic, and Gust has utilized a system similar to what a lot of Compile Hearts titles use. It has traditional turn-based combat with a small tactical twist. Enemies sit on a grid, and magic spells have AoE effects. Elements are also at play in Fairy Tail, meaning that players will need to maximize their actions. Should a player focus on hitting all enemies at once with a neutral spell or hit one or two with an element they weak to? There are a wide variety of spells to choose from, ensuring that the combat never really feels too stale. It’s a fun system to play with that feels both fresh and familiar.
The animations that come with the various skills and spells are gorgeous. Fantastic effects, colors, and scale all fill the screen when magic is used. The large roster and the variety of spells ensure that the player has a lot to see. Fans will certainly be delighted at some iconic attacks looking spectacular in 3D.
The 3D character models look great despite the actual graphics not looking special. Fairy Tail certainly doesn’t look like a game that was made at the end of the console generation. The character movements are poorly animated, and their expressions are often lacking. Some corners are cut throughout cutscenes, with some dialogues only being represented by portraits rather than 3D models. It isn’t ideal, but it feels like these decisions were made to make the combat look better.
The sound design in Fairy Tail is decent with nothing really to write home about. Most cutscenes are fully voiced, then other story moments only have the characters grunt with a bunch of text for players to read. The sound design combined with some of the weak visual decisions makes the game show its budgetary restrictions. Fairy Tail‘s presentation certainly isn’t bad, it’s simply lacking in some areas.
Fairy Tail is a solid JRPG that just feels a bit bland in some areas. The battles are thoroughly entertaining, but they are juxtaposed with average presentation and weak gameplay outside of the combat. Still, there is a certain charm to Fairy Tail, and it’s easy to pick up and play. JRPG fans who aren’t familiar with the franchise will certainly enjoy Fairy Tail, but this game is clearly targeted towards fans, who will likely love this game.
JRPG fans who aren't familiar with the franchise will certainly enjoy Fairy Tail, but this game is clearly targeted towards fans, who will likely love this game.