The Fairy Tail series has had a great run, first serialised in Shonen Jump, then adapted into an extraordinarily successful anime series. Most newbies to anime start with a series like Fairy Tale, it is a series packed full of interesting characters, intense battle scenes and the story is pretty great too. Fairy Tail’s success saw the series adapt into movies, novels, and games. The most recent game to grace us is Fairy Tail (no fancy name on this JRPG), this new game provides a faithful adaptation of “the Grand Magic games” arc from the manga and anime. Developed by gust studios who have worked alongside Hiro Mashima to deliver the story with absolute clarity and authenticity, Fairy Tail puts you front and centre of this journey.
After defending the world from a planet destroying attack from the dragon Acnologia, Natsu and his friends from the guild Fairy Tail are put into a deep slumber. They awake seven years later to find their guild has fallen into disrepute, believed to be dead the once unbeatable guild is now all but forgotten. With an iron will, Natsu vows to work harder than he ever has before to propel the guild back into the light, however mysterious forces stand in their way. Can they find out who is standing at the head of this shadowy organisation? Can they find the power to help the world avoid another catastrophe?
From the opening minutes of Fairy Tail the message is clear, the people behind this game are serious about delivering a title worthy of the series. I do not wish to spoil anything because the beginning segment of the story is an adrenaline fuelled experience that is far better seen than read, its exciting and sets the tone for the rest of the adventure. “The Grand Magic Games” arc of the manga and anime tells a great tale, and it is delivered faithfully in this game. Upon returning from their seven-year absence Natsu and the other members of the guild, are tasked with rebuilding their reputation. This is where the real game begins. To rebuild the guild, you will primarily fulfil requests to gain reputation, the quests task you with travelling to various locations and finding “item X” or killing “monster Y”. Each request fulfilled provides a boost to your overall ranking and increasing your ranking enables you to develop new upgrade stations for the guild, like a shop or a workbench for crafting new equipment, and giving you the ability to gain new equipment they also provide a passive boost for areas like combat or exploration. I found this system to be a great deal of fun, the guild upgrade system feels rewarding and gave me a good reason to push to fulfil more and more requests. As well as requests you can perform various quests with your companions that will work towards increasing their overall rank, relationship with another guild member and unlock new characters to fight with. Early in the game there are only a few guild members to play with but as you get into the later chapters your roster grows greatly, it is even possible to recruit characters outside of your guild.
Combat is where the game excels, calling back to the RPGs of old, Fairy Tail adopts a turn-based approach and it does it exceptionally well! Combat is a crisp experience with flashy animations and vibrant colours. It has great depth to it too, several systems weave into each other, thus giving you inventive ways to take down your foes. The system allows you to bring three characters into battle initially, but playing through the main campaign unlocks the ability to use up to five characters in battle. Facing monsters on a 9×9 grid, each character has unique attacks that will target a certain area on the grid, for example Natsu’s “Fire Dragon Iron Fist” has a range of one space, but his move “Fire Dragon Brilliant Flame” targets four grid spaces in the shape of a square. I like this aspect to combat as it challenges you to use your moves wisely and think tactically, characters also have an affinity to a particular element which adds another layer to the strategic gameplay.
Playing through the story gives you access to more mechanics like awakening, which raises your stats and unlocks special attacks, and Magic Chain, which unleashes a barrage of devastating attacks from each member of your team. Overall, I found the combat system in Fairy Tail to be its best feature; it is extremely easy to pick up and play, includes elements of strategy and each character’s moves are beautifully animated. My only gripe with it is how easy the game is, I played on normal throughout the campaign and I found myself constantly over-levelled without ever trying to be. Fulfilling side requests is necessary at certain intervals in the story as you have to boost your guild rank to move onto the next story quest, I found that doing these few quests gives you enough of a boost in levels that everything you fight feels too easy. So if you are looking for a challenge, starting on the hard mode might be the way to go.
Visually Fairy Tail is stunning, as with most JRPGs of this console generation, I love the use of warm and vibrant tones in this title. Character models are beautifully crafted, their battle animations look incredible and they are even animated in storyline cutscenes, which makes a nice change from the static cutscenes we see in a lot of JRPGs. I was extremely impressed with the amount of detail that has gone into each character’s attack, there are a lot of abilities in this game and to have each one animated to the level that they are is extremely impressive.
I was extremely excited when this game was announced; it feels like an eternity since I was immersed in the world of Fairy Tail and it is so good to see a western audience being catered for too. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Fairy Tail. The storyline is one of the best arcs of the entire series and this game delivers the arc excellently. If this is your first time with the series, the game does a semi-decent job at explaining past events, although there is a lot of history between the main players in this game so a brief history lesson won’t quite cut it for the casual fan. The developers clearly made this game with the fan in mind, but I think it is possible to pick the game up as a newbie and have a good time. I was also impressed by the Japanese voice acting in the game and the amount of text that had VOs. Like with most JRPGs, there is a lot of text in this game so including voice over for the entire campaign is a rarity and, while some minor characters are not voiced at all, nearly all scenes have voice acting. At its core Fairy Tail is a great turn based JRPG with a colourful cast of characters, stunning visuals, compelling storyline and a combat system with greater depth.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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FAIRY TAIL Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
At its core Fairy Tail is a great turn based JRPG with a colourful cast of characters, stunning visuals, compelling storyline and a combat system with greater depth.