lorekai: Fantasy Life Review

This week, thanks to life finally not being in the way of gaming, and wordpress finally cooperating, I’ll be reviewing Fantasy Life, a 2012 RPG from Level-5, that only very recently made it’s way out of Japan.

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Story:

While suffering a little from predictability, overall Fantasy Life’s story is fun, lighthearted, and enjoyable, I would also however say that it is one of the weakest parts of the game. It is in no way a bad story, the characters are fun, and there is a good sense of self awareness, as it sidesteps the major story tropes of the genre, however due to this, and the game’s lighthearted nature, there is never any sense of urgency, even when plot events suggest that¬†there really should be. Furthermore the story itself seems somewhat overly blatant in the themes it explores, which I would attribute some of the source of the predictability to, and while I would have no problem with this, it becomes a little tiresome when most of the major plot events feel like the same conflict being reiterated over and over again.

Gameplay:

Everywhere I look on the internet I see people trying to compare this game to Animal Crossing, and I can understand why people, without having played the game, would think that way, personally however, gameplay-wise I would sooner compare this game to Rune Factory, Dragon Quest IX, or even Skyrim, before Animal Crossing. As while this game does have a fairly similar customisation aspect, it makes up such a small part of the game, there is really no basis for the comparison to be made.

Gameplay-wise this game has a lot to offer, especially if you are a completionist, you have a fairly substantial world to explore, a large number of quests to complete, the wonderful distraction that is customisation, of both your home(s) and your character, secrets to uncover, and twelve different jobs to master. These jobs can be divided in to three different categories, combat, gathering, and crafting, each with their own different skills and gameplay elements, and while you can switch jobs whenever you like, I would definitely recommend starting with a combat or gathering based job, instead of a crafting one, unless of course you have lots of people available for multiplayer, as getting the necessary items, for crafting, will be quite irritating and costly initially, making it difficult to improve your rank.

The combat in this game is pretty simple, press “A” to attack which whatever weapon you have equipped, and run around to dodge enemy attacks, with different weapons and jobs adding other options, such as equipping a shield, or using a special attack. It’s nothing unusual, and it works well, particularly in multiplayer, furthermore each action has a skill level, and the more you do something the better your character becomes at it. Overall combat is fun and intuitive, though perhaps a little easy.

Sound:

It’s a Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack, need I say more? If I do then, it’s a fantastic soundtrack, with a good range of tunes, appropriate for the setting and themes in game, and contributing well to building the lighthearted atmosphere of the game. Perhaps not one of his strongest soundtracks, though that could be due to my continued playing of Theatrhythm creating an unfair comparison, but still one that is far above the average, but again it’s Nobou Uematsu, need I say more?

Graphics:

Graphically this game shines, true there are games out there that are prettier, but this often seems to come at some form of cost, like the severely limited towns in Bravely Default, whereas Fantasy Life has consistent quality across all areas, and uses colours well to create a detailed, vibrant, and sometimes quite beautiful world to explore. Furthermore the character designs are downright cute, and there is a huge range of character customisation available, I’ve streetpassed more than fifteen people with this game and I’ve yet to come across any characters that look the same.

Overall:

Fantasy Life is an excellent game and one I would recommend that almost anyone should give it a try, regardless of their interest or experience with jrpgs, it has a lot to offer in terms of gameplay, as well as a fun story, all of which is extremely well presented both visually and aurally. Also you can have pets and take them on quests with you, and who wouldn’t want to go adventuring with their cats?

Thanks for reading!

lorekai: Bravely Default Review

Today I’m reviewing a game that has been taking up the majority of my free time recently.

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Story:

The story, while somewhat generic, is well written with some interesting twists and added depth keeping it interesting. The characters are also a little on the safe and generic side, with each of the standard jrpg tropes being represented. They are again however well written with none of them feeling superfluous to the story, and with the addition of the optional Party Chat conversations they are given enough depth and personality that they don’t feel flat.

Gameplay:

The gameplay is fairly standard jrpg fare, you explore dungeons, visit towns, traverse the world, and fight lots of battles, or not many battles as this game comes with the wonderful option of switching random encounters off. You can also increase them and switch on auto-battle for grinding made easy. The battle system in this game is a fairly traditional turn based one, but with the interesting twist of the Brave and Default options, which allow you to defend and save turns for later use or use turns in advance. This game also has a job system very reminiscent of Final Fantasy V’s, allowing for great variety in party composition and for some very fun combos.¬†Aside from the main story quests, there are also a great deal of side quests and the streetpass based village rebuilding, which offers unique items and optional bosses.

Sound:

The game has a very pretty soundtrack and excellent voice acting, with many of the scenes being fully voiced. My only complaint about the sound would be the lack of variety in the soundtrack, as while it is good, it gets very repetitive about 20 hours in, and as this is a game that could easily go past 60 hours for a single playthrough a few additional pieces of music would have been much appreciated.

Graphics:

Bravely Default is a very beautiful game, the background art for the game’s towns is particularly outstanding and detailed. When I initially saw the first town, I was quite stunned by how pretty it was and the level of detail. The dungeons, world map, and battle screens, are also very well presented and pretty, though the battle screens do lack somewhat in variety and I would of liked if the inside of shops and inns were shown.The character models in this game are another thing it does well, the art-style is cute and well fitted for the overall aesthetic of the game. The huge range of different costumes is also quite impressive, with each character having a unique costume for the 24 different jobs.

Overall:

Overall I’d say that Bravely Default is an excellent game and definitely worth picking up. While it does play it safe in some areas, it is a great deal of fun and an great callback to the earlier Final Fantasy games.