Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (Nintendo Switch)

It’s time for Fairy Fencer F to make it’s debut on the Nintendo Switch, coined as a more grounded and fantasy based “Neptunia” style RPG it’s time to see if the Nintendo Switch is ready for Compile Heart’s unique brand of JRPG. An epic tale waiting to be told or a duff tweet of a story? Read on to find out.

The story for Fairy Fencer is one of evil gods and benevolent goddesses imprisoned, with heroes and fairies having the power to choose who to awaken. Our journey opens up with our hapless hero, named Fang, as he decides to give a try to pulling out the ‘fury’ from a nearby rock (think Excalibur) in the hope that the fairy which will emerge will grant him the wish of food. When Eryn emerges, she eventually manages to sway Fang to take up her quest of freeing the goddess as a fairy can only ever be partnered with a single fencer, and off they go to start collecting Fury’s. It’s not long till they come across Tiara, another Fencer, that your party starts to form as she holds the same goal as Eryn and it would obviously be easier collecting the fury’s as a team. Whilst the story does try to keep things a little more serious than usual, The games numerous amusing characters will keep you entertained during the dialogue (as you’d expect of a Compile Heart title of course) and gives the game a decent foundation to build on.

The main addition for this release comes during the second part of the game, where your choices leading to that point will offer up 3 different story routes. This is one of the aspects those that are double dipping will appreciate as the new route offers a different story & feel to the overall narrative. What you may not enjoy so much is the first part of the game. Aside from the odd dungeon & extra dialogue sections, little else has changed. It’s pretty much about 75-80% the same as the original release, which can make it a bit of a slog if you’ve been there before. Newcomers will find plenty to enjoy though, and the additional routes differ wildly to the original that it may be worth getting past that first half for returning fencers.

The typical structure of a dungeon system & turn based combat is in effect for this Compile Heart RPG, which will leave most people easing themselves into the fray fast enough. Exploring dungeons & starting up battles works in the same way as other CH games, giving a set area to move around in before initiating turn based attacks. You’ll get your main story quests in the Inn, which is the focal point of the central hub, with the location of additional fairies gained from showering the adorable Lola with plenty of gold. The fairies aren’t just used for releasing the goddess etc as they can be equipped or used to gain benefits when tackling pesky dungeons & foes.

One of the main additions to the game for myself is the the boost in party members able to take part in a bettle to 6. Usually you’ll find yourself having a preference for more than 3 characters abilities in trying to balance a party, so this is great in that sense. Not only that, it makes for more dynamic battles & can help when yor stuck at a difficulty spike as you now have more options to get through it. There could’ve been other additions to the game, taking some mechanics from other Compile Heart titles maybe, but the base game was good enough as it was so it doesn’t affect the games outlook.

The graphics have taken a boost over the original releases on Ps3 & PC, although it’s not as big of a gulf as you’d expect. Texture’s have seen a nice boost, featuring more detail and supplemented by some additional shading techniques to give a little extra depth – which also applies to the game’s character models (although little else has been done to those) Whilst the framerate was generally good on Ps3, this release is pretty much locked on Ps4 – even with the extra party members & foes during battles. The resolution now set at 1080p helps make the improvements noticeable, with the CG’s & sprite work looking particularly sharp, yet it’s not always so clear-cut once you get out to the dungeons due to one simple issue.

The main issue I have with the presentation is down to the contrast/gamma. It has what I call the ‘360 look’. Saturation is high making for a colourful image, but darker areas are subject to the infamous black crush. It only happens during the games 3D segments though, 2D sections seem perfectly balanced, which rules out just upping brightness on the TV unless you can tolerate washed out artwork once you’ve left the dungeon. It’s something that you’ll eventually get used to, as it mainly affects cave dungeons mostly & leaves the brighter outdoor areas looking good.

Nintendo Switch Performance.

So a little backstory, as mentioned the above review was penned by @MadchesterManc who is the main guy around here, he reviewed the original Fairy Fencer back when we first launched the website and gave it a lofty 9 out of 10, for Advent Dark Force he gave it a 7 with the main criticism being that it wasn’t enough to entice double dipping. Now I’ve played my fair share of Compile Heart games over the years, mainly when we first launched and have since have “soft” dropped the company, I missed out on Fairy Fencer and was happy enough that I’d spent enough time away that I could look at this title with a renewed sense of vigour and appreciation.

The game has some fantastic writing and the core gameplay of it is top notch, I am really glad that I took this on as I have always wondered if the titles were as good as people have said and for the most part I agree with everything. It’s my favourite Compile Heart title that I have played but one thing that hasn’t changed from the PS3 era and has clung to this title like an unwanted parasite is performance issues.

The scenes where characters are talking are fine, the art style is pleasing and the voice acting is comical as you would expect, the dungeons, the combat and anytime you have control over your character on the other hand just left a real bad taste in my mouth. The frame rate is all over the place to the point in handheld mode I had to play really limited amounts as it would bring on a headache. It doesn’t look smooth at all until you hit a cutscene when you trigger a special attack, it’s a shame as I was really expecting something a little smoother considering my gap in these games but it just hasn’t gotten any better.

The graphics for the most part look fantastic but I noticed especially in handheld mode it seemed like a layer of Vaseline was caked across my screen and was rocking some off bloom effect which was quite distracting, it wasn’t as noticeable docked but certainly in Handheld mode.

Overall the game is still a fantastic experience for any JRPG enthusiast, It comes with all the DLC and the extras from the base game and makes it the complete package for the game. It’s the only Compile Heart RPG available on the Switch and has a fantastic amount of quality writing, just be aware it doesn’t perform as well as you may need.

7/10

Summary

Pros

  • Fantastic writing
  • 6 party combat
  • Great presentation

Cons

  • A bit of a slog for returning fencers
  • Performance issues are quite harsh
  • Little bit of the ol’ fan service
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Nameless Andi

Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night!

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