When we checked out Fairy Fencer F at E3 2014, we were informed that it's being developed by a wide-ranging cast of all-star designers. The environmental design was done by Yoshitaka Amano, best known for his work on the Final Fantasy series. The music was also done by a wide cast of composers, including another Final Fantasy vet, Nobou Uematsu. The story is being crafted by Toshiki Inoue, who is known for being a prolific writer of Japanese television shows, most notably a number of well-respected tokusatsu shows like "Kamen Rider Agito" and "Choujin Sentai Jetman." The character designs are by the Hyperdimension Neptunia designer Tsunako.
The core gameplay in Fairy Fencer F is based on the Hyperdimension Neptunia engine, so combat takes place on its own map. Every time a player's action arrives, he or she can move within a circular grid to get into position to attack enemies, which is done by stringing together combo attacks, each with a distinctive element or movement modifier. You can push back enemies or knock them into the air, but you can also combo with other allies to perform follow-up attacks to take full advantage of chain combos. Another element is the ability to Fairize. When certain conditions are met, your characters can combine with the fairy that resides in their sword to take on a new and more powerful armored form. This form only lasts for a brief period of time but allows for devastating damage to be performed.
Fairies are a big part of Fairy Fencer F. Each character has a single associated fairy that determines his or her weapon and abilities. You can find other fairies to equip to give you an additional stat or ability boost. The fairy who inhabits your weapon can be leveled up by spending points. This allows you to increase your stats, learn new moves, or gain other benefits to increase your attack power. There's a variety of customization available since each character has specific abilities. There are even costume and accessory customization options that determine how your character looks. You can unlock further costumes and accessories by completing special challenges, such as a huge tower that contains optional boss fights.
One cool feature of the game is the Fury system. Furies are special swords that are sealed into two gods who are a major part of the storyline. One is a dark god of evil, and the other a holy goddess of light. When you find a fairy in the dungeons, you can return to the resting place of these gods to imbue the fairy into one of the weapons, creating a fury for you to use. A fury is made up of two elements: a positive attribute and a negative one. When you go to the world map, you can thrust a fury into the ground to create an aura that grants those attributes to any dungeons within the sphere of influence. These attributes can be something like "x2 experience points gained but enemies are tougher" or "You do extra damage but you can't heal." The exact combination depends on which fairy you put into which fury. You can have multiple furies out at once and create overlapping fields on a single dungeon to make it more difficult and more rewarding.
Fairy Fencer F has a lot of potential. The development staff behind the game has worked on some truly impressive products, and the core gameplay seems to have a lot of variety. A mix of turn-based combat action and heavy amounts of player customization offers a chance for players to take on the game however they'd like. Our brief demo didn't give us a great glimpse at the story, but there will be enough twists and turns to keep the die-hard JRPG faithful engrossed. Fairy Fencer F is due out Sept. 23, 2014, exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
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