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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review: Fairune

It's not fair to judge by a name.
You know, it irks me to see so many titles completely fly under the radar when it comes to being lovingly ripped off from. "Oh sure! We know you just love Mega Man so let's make a game about a blue guys with a shovel instead!", "You like action adventure titles? So do we! That's why we made a game like Adventure of Link but with Saturday morning cartoon characters and no difficulty!", "Yeah! We all can't wait for another Batman game, so here's something with the same style of combat and... well, that's about it, bye!", and of course, the dreaded, "We got original characters in your Metroid formula! Hope it can hold a candle to those games!"

Where's my Crystal Chronicles ripoff? Why can't underrated classics like Ys ever get any love? Would it kill someone to make a Paper Mario-like title?!

Fortunately, Fairune manages to take on the Ys thing pretty well.

PROS:

-Achievement hunting and 100% completion reveals the true difficulty and addictive quality

-Nostalgia.

CONS:

-Simplistic production values undermine gameplay depth

-No difficulty.

THOUGHTS:

Most RPGs like to fool the player into thinking they have the potential to become a god by the time they finish the title. Fairune, and Ys- the game it homages quite straightforwardly- don't really agree with this concept. And maybe it's because I played Ys Book I and II very recently, but I couldn't help but be charmed by the nature of Fairune. The aesthetic quality is reminiscent of the old classic, even down to the border around the bottom screen and the silly angels on the top. Another title I was reminded of was Witch and Hero, except this game has much more consistent aesthetic quality and doesn't suck.

The story is fairly decent. You are a mysterious female protagonist tasked with bringing order to the land- a task you must take up sword and... well, other assorted objects in order to complete. The puzzling is a bit strange, but it all makes sense in context and doesn't take too much time to comprehend. There's some hidden entrances, hard-to-spot clues and some obtuse concepts to enjoy.

The bump and grind combat is present too, although Fairune, being a low-budget title, takes some liberties with the idea. At first, I was baffled by this choice, as it only allows you to defeat foes that are one level higher than you, and only they and enemies the same level with you are capable of gifting experience. If you are unable to kill enough enemies in an area before your own health depletes, there's a bit of a setback in death that makes the whole process of backtracking a nuisance.

However, the point of the experience mechanic, the timer at the top of the screen, and the entire design of the game becomes clear upon returning to the title screen, actually. Speed running is what the developers intended in creating this game, and the goal is to complete the quest presented in Fairune as soon as possible. During the first and second playthroughs, the game might feel a bit shallow, but once you start to factor in the alternate objectives, the point of the game becomes clear- memorize some puzzles and maps, because this is going to be one hell of a speed run.

Of course, achievements are secondary objectives, and the game should not be judged on these things alone. Or should it? With a title as cheap and low-budget as Fairune, the idea of adding additional incentives is a perfect way of padding game length. The game's low price encourages you to get as much as you can out of it, and I am actually very interested in returning to this title to complete more of the achievements, especially because of the charming and cozy Ys-like feel the game gives off.

Final Verdict: An odd choice, certainly, and those who enjoy the original Ys will probably feel at home more for the title. But Fairune's core concepts are sound, its world comfortable and detailed, and most importantly, its playtime is extensive and quite a challenge. Oh, and the final boss is pretty enjoyable, too.

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