If you skipped Fairy Fencer F the first time around, there’s no better time to jump in and experience it than now. Our full Advent Dark Force review!
Title: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Compile Heart
Available On: PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Copy Supplied by Publisher
Fairy Fencer F was a surprisingly great title on PlayStation 3, and quickly turned in to one of my most enjoyable JRPG experiences on the console. The first title released under the Galapagos RPG brand, Fairy Fencer F set out to show a different side of Compile Heart that really hadn’t been seen yet in their previous titles. So it was no surprise that I was immediately excited when Compile Heart announced Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. At first, I actually thought this was a continuation of the story from the first game, but it isn’t. Adding in a ton of new story elements, new characters, and a switch from having three characters in battle to six characters, Advent Dark Force is a retelling of the original game in a much better way.
In the first scene, you learn of a conflict that happened ages ago between an Evil God and a Goddess. Special weapons called Furies were the weapons of choice during this battle, which could only be used by a Fencer. The Goddess and Evil God used these Furies to seal one another away, but 100 of them ended up falling down to Earth. Thus, the tale begins. The story immediately introduces you to Fang, the main character you’ll be controlling during the adventure. Fang starts off as a character you probably will love to hate. He’s lazy, condescending, and just plain unpleasant to be around. But his sense of humor is quite catchy, and is what kept me hooked to him during the initial few hours of the game. You’ll also be introduced to Eryn, which is the Fairy that is tied to Fang. The world of Fairy Fencer F borrows a bit of lore from the Legend of King Arthur, because the Furies are typically stuck in stone, and only those worthy of wielding them and becoming a Fencer can remove the sword. This is how Fang and Eryn came to be, even if it was only because Fang was looking for a free meal and not the adventure he was about to embark on.
The changes in Advent Dark Force become apparent immediately, because there’s an entirely new dungeon at the start of the game. It makes more sense this time around, as you’re fighting your way out of jail instead of out in the open field like in the original release. It also works as a great introduction to the combat system, which is very similar to other Compile Heart releases. The combat is turn based, with the order appearing on the left hand side of the screen. You can move around before decided to attack, use magic, or defend. If you’ve played any other game that Compile Heart has done, you’ll feel right at home. And if you haven’t, it won’t take long before you master the system. One of my favorite things is present in the game by holding down L2, and that is the ability to skip battle animations. After seeing them a few times, it’s nice to be able to skip when out grinding and leveling.
Another battle mechanic that really can turn the tides is called Fairize. This is when the actual character fuses with his or her Fairy, and becomes a much stronger version of them combined. Certain abilities can only be used when under the effects of Fairize, and the damage dealt out to enemies is much higher in this form. It also allows you to withstand more damage. You can only enter the Fairize state after the gauge has filled up to almost full, and it will definitely take a few rounds upon entering combat to be able to pull this off.
When on the world map and getting ready to proceed in to dungeons, you’ll have to make use of a mechanic known as World Shaping in order to actually enter the dungeon. World Shaping is the act of taking a Furie, sticking it into the ground at the location of the dungeon, and basically discovering the dungeon. Until this is done, the dungeon just appears as a “?” block where the entrance would be. Another thing World Shaping is useful for is changing attributes about each dungeon. Each Furie has two specific abilities attached to it, such as Experience +/-, Physical Attack +/-, changing the enemies that appear in the dungeon, etc. You can also combine Furies in one spot, stacking them on a dungeon to create insane experience boosts, attack boosts, or anything else you might want.
Collecting the Furies comes from another gameplay mechanic called Godly Revival. After running through a dungeon and discovering the location of the Furies, you’ll be rewarded with an actual Fairy. Traveling back to Zelwinds City and going in to the Inn will allow you to partake in the Godly Revival. Each Fairy has a grade attached to it, as does each of the Furies stuck in both the Goddess and Evil God. Matching the Fairy to a Furie with the same grade will allow you to pull out one of the Furies from either the Evil God or the Goddess. This is also how you start decided which ending path you’d like to go down during your playthrough.
Up to a certain boss fight in the game, things remain relatively unchanged. There are certain scenes that have been added to make things flow more smoothly, dialogue has been changed here and there, there’s a few new dungeons sprinkled in, and a few characters see a bit more screen time than they did originally. It’s after this specific boss fight where things truly open up, and the changes that Compile Heart made can really be felt and explored.
In the original release, the only path that was present was that of the Goddess. So long as you stick to removing swords from the Goddess, you’ll end up traveling down this path, as it’s the default path still present in Advent Dark Force, and by far the easiest one for newcomers to the series. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, the path that opens up by removing at least six swords from the Evil God is quite a bit harder, and is one of the two new paths available this time around. I won’t go into specifics so as to not spoil anything, but this path was much needed for those of us that played and enjoyed the game the first time around.
If you feel you’re really up for a brutal time, then the second new path, the Evil Goddess path, is by far the hardest one. This one can seemingly only be unlocked in New Game Plus, because you cannot remove enough swords before the cut off point to actually access it. You need to remove at least 16 swords from the Evil God as soon as you possibly can, or you’ll never actually see this path. It’s during this path where all the new characters that have been added to the game appear, and it’s honestly an insane story, but one worth seeing.
The soundtrack in Fairy Fencer F is simply amazing. I was impressed with it during my initial playthrough back in 2014, and I’m still impressed with it to this day. The amount of variety that is present in the tracks is astounding, as there aren’t many that sound the same. Seriously… this soundtrack is worth listening to from start to finish. This is helped in part by mastermind Nobuo Uematsu, famous for his pieces in the Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, and more. If the soundtrack is something you look for and rank highly when playing through a game, you won’t be disappointed here. Trust me. One piece the sticks out in my mind, and one that I still listen to regularly since the original release, and the slow piece that plays during conversation pieces while at the Inn, and sometimes elsewhere in the world. It’s perhaps one of the most beautiful tracks in the game, and just sums up how I feel about the music in general.
It felt so good being back in the world of Fairy Fencer F, as it’s definitely my favorite Compile Heart release to date. I truly hope they continue to explore this world with future releases, as there’s so many more stories to be told here. It’s also their most beautiful game available on PlayStation 4 to date. Even if you aren’t a fan of their other releases, you owe it to yourself to play this one if you’re a fan of JRPG’s.