Game Title: Fairy Fencer F – Advent Dark Force
Company: Compile Heart, Ghostlight, Idea Factory International
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download:  8.1 GB

I’ve really missed the regular RPG released from Idea Factory International. I loved when Neptunia games were releasing on the Vita pretty often as I got my Compile Heart itch scratched multiple times a year, much like how my Atelier itch continues to be scratched since heavily focusing on covering the Switch.

There is some Compile Heart love on the Switch on the way, however, as Super Neptunia RPG has been confirmed to release on the Switch later on this year. Before we dive into that, though, they’ve graced us with another one of their games from the PS3 era that’s been on many platforms, but never on a handheld.

That ends today, though. Here is my review of Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

fairy 2 - story

Fairy Fencer is set in a world where two deities once fought over domain of the world and have both long since been sealed away as a result of their constant fighting. As a result of their battle, however, magical weapons known as Furies rained down onto the world, each containing a creature known as a Fairy. Anyone worthy enough to pick up a Fury becomes a partner to that Fairy.

This story revolves around Fang, a lazy good-for-nothing that wants nothing more than to eat and sleep all day, every day. When he claims a Fury for his own with the intent of asking the Goddess for food, he is tied with the Fairy Eryn and she forces him on a quest to collect all the Furies and revive the Goddess so she will restore peace to the world. Also to answer Fang’s wish for food.

FFF’s plot starts off not-so-good, but turns into a good story. The characters get a lot of development over the course of the three different story paths, but many of them start off very annoying and cliche. The story showcases Fang’s laziness and lack of concern over anything outside of his gut so often in the first half of the game that I absolutely hated and could not stand his character until the game was half-way over. His character did make a ton of progress into a protag I like, but it takes way too long to get there.

Gameplay

fairy 3 - dungeons

Like the Neptunia games before it, Fairy Fencer F is a turn-based RPG with visual novel-style story scenes and a ton of dungeon-crawling. Across the entirety of the game, you’ll be moving between your base town and dungeons, heading towards the next story scene and boss to push the story forward and open up new areas.

First of all, Advent Dark Force is an updated release of the original Fairy Fencer F from the PS3. ADF added a lot of content, including two new story routes, endings, playable characters, dungeons, and more. The Switch version of ADF is a bit more unique because it’s bundled with all of the PS4 version’s DLC with no need to redeem and buy it for the OP gear and Fairy Equipment.

The way you progress is a bit different from your typical RPG. You have a hub town with typical facilities like an Inn, Store, and Pub for Quests. You’ve also got a point-and-click World Map where you can visit dungeons to fight off monsters and advance the story.

fairy 4 - revival

The unique bits come from World Building and Godly Revival. Your main task in the game’s story is to revive one of the two deities: The Vile God and The Goddess. How you go about this is by using Godly Revival at the Inn to remove Furies from one or the other by using Fairies you gain as you progress the story.

In the original game, you could only revive the Goddess, even if you took the seal off the Vile God, which made this feature seem useless. In ADF, there are 3 routes for the Goddess (the original game’s route), Vile God, and Evil Goddess, which will trigger depending on how many furies you take out of the seals and from whom. This lets you control what Story Path you want to see.

World Building is how you can use Fairies to create dungeons with special effects. To go to story dungeons, you have to use a Fury to basically “Create” the location and every Fairy can gain effects in Godly Revival like increasing Experience and certain stats. That way, when you use that Fairy to create that dungeon, it will have that effect whenever you’re inside and you can freely swap Furies around for different effects. This is similar to dungeon-changing in the Neptunia games, especially when you need to change enemies in dungeons for certain side quests.

fairy 5 - combat

The rest of the game is everything CH fans expect out of a Neptunia game. You explore 3D dungeons and attack enemies to trigger combat while also roaming around to find items and Event Points to advance the story forward. In fact, I’d say that FFF uses almost the same exact gameplay engine and mechanics as Neptunia Victory, which was also used in the 3 Neptunia Re;Birth games on the PS Vita and Steam.

That sameness is also what makes the game feel like it is re-using itself. Many of the dungeons feel like mirrors of other dungeons, and the fact that you have to re-visit every dungeon in the 2nd half of the game really drives home the feeling of assets being re-used. The new story routes do have a few new dungeons along with the old ones, but it really feels deja vu-ish.

The same goes for combat. Outside of each character having unique skills, this is essentially the same combat system that was used in the Neptunia games. It’s turn-based where each character has free roam around the battlefield during their turn. I do like this system, though, as the fact that you can roam around and set up your attacks and skills makes it feel like a melding of Turn-Based and Action RPGs. But I will admit it feels exactly like playing a Neptunia Re;Birth game, but with non-Neptunia characters.

fairy 6 - wp

The thing about combat and customization that feels unique is the WP system. You gain WP from every battle and it is used for your non-leveling stat increases and ability acquisition. You don’t learn new skills, attack combos, or abilities from leveling up. All of it is obtained by using WP earned in battle. It’s like a stat distribution system but much more expansive. It also gives you choice in what you do and don’t want to learn, from weapon types to actual skills.

Now, in terms of content and length, there is much to do here after you beat the game. You can carry over pretty much everything and anything you want in New Game Plus, including characters that are exclusive to certain Story Routes and take them into the others. This also makes it easy to access the other story routes without having to grind out for levels every new trek you take through the game.

In terms of length, it all depends on how you play. If you use the OP DLC equipment to avoid grinding, you could bring the typical 25-hour trip through the game to around 18-20 hours. As an example, I beat the Goddess Route in 18 hours, and had gone through the game again and cleared the Evil Goddess Route by the time I’d hit 28-30 hours.

Controls

Controlling is pretty easy, for the most part. No touch controls and no motion controls.

You move around with the Left Analog Stick and move the camera with the Right Analog Stick. The camera can be zoomed with the D-Pad / Arrow Buttons. The triggers can be used to skip scenes when they’re playing and using the dash in dungeons.

Face buttons. A is used for attacking enemies in dungeons and B is used for jumping. Y is used during menus and X is used for pulling up the menu.

Presentation

fairy 7 = presy

Here’s where Vita players will start to get some deja vu. Graphically, the game looks pretty decent. There are definitely some jaggies on the models but it overall, looks fine. It does have a bit of a blur effect on environments far away from the camera in handheld mode, though.

Performance is the bigger thing we want to talk about. The game’s frame-rate is all over the place. When you’re wandering around dungeons, it’s mostly smooth but does drop under 30 fps fairly often, especially in battle. Transitions into battle and when you perform physical attacks have a lot of stutters to them. Thankfully, they won’t mess you up as combat is turn-based. But it’s definitely noticeable.

The game does have one thing to help you with the frame-drops. There is a shadow setting you can turn off to improve performance and load times a bit, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for battle fps.

The last thing is crashing. I’ve had the game crash on me a fair number of times in the 30 or so hours I’ve played it, never with a cause. Just going through a scene or sitting at a menu and bam, crash. You can save incredibly often, so you likely won’t lose a lot of progress, but it’s definitely a risk.

Battery Life

I wasn’t expecting a ton out of this, in terms of Battery, but here are my times from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 39 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 45 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 05 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 11 minutes

Not great. Not bad. It’s about the average range for a lot of games I’ve been testing lately.

In conclusion, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force debuts on the Switch in a way that will feel very familiar with Neptunia handheld fans. On the downside, it’s got some issues with asset repetition and game performance. But anyone who can get past the all-over-the-place frame rate will find a cute and fun RPG with a lot of content and story routes to choose from.

Final Score: 7/10