Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force Review – A Fetching Grind (PS4)
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is a bit more than a simple remaster of the original Fairy Fencer F for the PlayStation 4 system; developer Compile Heart has revamped the battle system and added more content to the game, almost giving it “Game of the Year” or “Enhanced Edition” treatment. It’s great for those who missed out on Fairy Fencer F the first time around, and the hardcore fans who want more out of the game. However, even with this new coat of paint, they can’t mask the fact that Advent Dark Force is still at its core everything Fairy Fencer F. All of those problems, including the horrific grind and the predictable story, are still present.
Typical Idea Factory JRPG
If you’ve played one JRPG from publisher Idea Factory, such as the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, then you already know exactly what to expect from Advent Dark Force. The player travels from dungeon to dungeon without a true overworld, engages in turn-based combat with some tactical movement, and then watches cut scenes of simply just the characters with a scrolling dialogue box running below them with their speech. Occasionally the cut scenes will include rather lovely still images of the characters participating in some activity, usually eating or bathing. In many ways, once you’ve seen one JRPG from this publisher you’ve seen them all, so you look to the overall story for something unique and intriguing.
In this particular story, the main protagonist is a lazy loafer named Fang who only wants to eat and sleep. When removing a sword from the ground after being told it will grant him a wish (he wanted to wish for free food), he released a Fairy residing within the sword and became bound to her as a Fencer. The job of a Fencer is to collect more Furies—swords containing Fairies—and then use the power of the Fairies to remove the seals on the Goddess, who is in an eternal slumber along side the Vile God. Yes, there are evil Fencers out there who want to resurrect the Vile God. In the original game, players could only work toward freeing the Goddess, but in Advent Dark Force, players can choose to free the Vile God instead, which leads to a completely different outcome. There’s even a third option that I won’t discuss here for spoilers’ sake.
Even though this version has far more content than the original, the stories are still fairly predictable, which is more of a by-product of this genre than anything else. The plot has a few surprises, but they’re revealed early on, and nothing is too shocking afterward.
More People Does Not Equal More Fun
Traditionally in a JRPG party system, only three characters can battle at a time. To level up other characters, players have to continually swap out the party members, which they may want to do anyway to defeat certain bosses. This time, however, all six members of your party participate in combat. There’s no need to choose between your tank, your mages, or your range fighters because they’re all part of the fray. If the dev team left the enemies and bosses the same from the original game, this might make for an extremely short experience. However, all of the hostiles have compensated stats just for this occasion, and some have overly compensated for this occasion. Battles will be every much of a grind as they were the first time, even with more damage dealers and more people who can Fairize—the ability to merge with the Fairy and essentially become super powerful. If anything, battles go even longer than they did before.
With more people, the healer also has to remain even more vigilant to keep everyone alive. If more than three people go down in a single attack, it will take the healer the rest of the fight to get everyone alive and healthy. If the healer goes down with them, well, hope you have some Feathers in your inventory. Never leave the home base of Zelwind City without them. You’ll do it once. Just once.
More characters also doesn’t ease up the grind. Oh sure, you don’t have to swap out party members between battles now, but the game still does not have any entertaining method to grinding, and yes, you do have to grind to progress. Simply running through the main quests or even tackling the sub-quests won’t do it. The other option is to run through past dungeons over and over and over at your leisure, or take on meaningless fetch quests from the local pub to sort of give you a purpose to running through the same dungeon over and over again. Neither are enjoyable, and many of the fetch quests can’t even be completed until much later in the game when new enemies spawn in the old places.
Want to Like it
At first, Advent Dark Force raptly held my attention. Despite the simple combat, the heavily evident grind, the lack of a true overworld, absence of real exploration, and the extremely limited shop options (there’s just one that rotates stock) and side quests, the story held on to me for several hours. I could see where it was going, and its predictability didn’t bother me too much. I was eager to collect each Fury and wake the sealed Goddess. In fact, the dialogue was often quite humorous, especially when Fang participated in a conversation. I enjoyed unlocking the sub-event conversations almost more than the main event dialogues because they were so hilarious.
What broke me in the end was the steep incline in difficulty at about the halfway mark that required even more grinding. If Advent Dark Force had implemented some method to make grinding more entertaining, or perhaps cut out the extensive requirement all together, I would have enjoyed Fang’s journey immensely.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force honestly has a lot going for it, but failed to seal the deal in the end. No matter the ending, I felt more frustrated than anything with all the monotony thrust upon me. Perhaps if the stories weren’t so predictable, or perhaps if the grind wasn’t so prevalent I would have been able to overlook one or the other. Instead, I wrapped up my adventures with Fang with wistful dissatisfaction.
Review code for Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.