Fairy Fencer F: Refrain Chord (PlayStation 5)

Fairy Fencer F released almost a decade ago on the PlayStation 3, with an enhanced release following later for various systems, its been some time since we’ve been on a journey with Fang and his crew. Offering some new gameplay, does this sequel do enough to reignite the spark after all this time? Lets take a look.

The story opens with the young fencer named Fang, a swordsman who has the ability to wield a special weapon imbued with a Fairy known as a Fury, stuck in a prison cell. Not long after he is freed by his fairy to continue the journey to find the Furies and resurrect the Goddess. One day, he encounters someone who can help people with her song, and another who can brainwash people with hers, as the mysterious power of the women who call themselves Muses is revealed. Once again, it seems Fang’s destiny begins to unfold in a new direction.

All your favourites from Advent Dark Force make a return here and with it being set not long after, should offer the most appeal to those that enjoyed what came before. As it lacks the world building of the original game, previous experience of the original is preferred to flesh out some aspects of the story, but you could get through it easily enough without playing the previous game. Different factors can also effect the stories route on this one, so keep that in mind when it comes to choices & relationships unless you are aiming for multiple playthroughs to see it all.

If you’ve recently played Advent Dark Force then you may be left wondering exactly where the PS5 upgrade is for this one. Likely ported from the Switch, some aspects of the game look quite similar to previous PS4 game, dialogue sprites for example look straight lifted from the previous game. The anime aesthetic does help alleviate some of the disappointment of the lack of an upgrade, it does still look good tho with some nice environments to fight in, and the silver lining is that performance is pretty much guaranteed to be rock solid at least.

One good aspect is the audio. Most of the previous cast have returned and carry on from where they left off with some good work. It’s a shame not more was used of the PS5, the dualsense only seems to have a basic rumble, and it oddly takes longer to load into a dungeon here than to load into Death Stranding. To be honest if it runs well on the Switch and you have one then this version is kinda superfluous.

Refrain Chord does away with the turn-based battle of Advent Dark Force for a more SRPG system akin to something like Disgaea. Fights now take place on a more expansive field which leaves you at the mercy of factors not found in the previous game. In these kinda situations, strategic positioning is key, be it how you’re positioned at the end of a turn or if attacking from an elevated position. You’ll need to be aware of more than just choosing the right attack. Also new to this release is Muses. These songstresses can provide AOE buffs for your team, but if an enemy enters the area they can also receive the buff. It’s something best used sparingly, like when pushing an advantage, as it can backfire if the buff helps the enemy defeat you or your muse – the enemy can also have a muse on the field too.

Outside of the battles it plays pretty similar to its peers really, you’ll be moving around a world map visiting various dungeons to fight or trigger events. You can also drop your faeries into various map locations which can open up new areas and secret dungeons to visit – a nice touch worth making the most of. Heading back to the village often for more info on your next target is also a must, there’s also shops etc for outfitting party members, and an inn to rest up. The inn also offers additional events that allow you to have unique discussions with various party members which can have an effect on how they view you.

It’s been quite a while since the previous game, but that hasn’t taken any of the sheen off from the fun adventures this motley crew undertake. Having played Fairy Fencer F & the enhanced Advent Dark Force back when they both launched, it was great to have all the cast return for this sequel to continue the story, with Refrain Chord also offering a whole new combat system to make sure there’s plenty new for returning fencers. This PS5 version is disappointing tho, seemingly a basic Switch port that doesn’t offer much of a noticeable upgrade or use of the system, leaving the portable version preferred.

3

Summary

A fun story with plenty on offer for returning fencers & SRPG fans.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.