Fairy Fencer F Advent Dark Force is an adventure JRPG originally released in 2013 as Fairy Fencer F, and then re-released in 2016 with the additional subtitle “Advent Dark Force”. Now it’s gotten a PC port like its predecessor. Not to be confused with a sequel, Advent Dark Force is a re-release of the original Fairy Fencer F with some additional characters, extra storylines, enhanced mechanics and a larger base party size.
In Advent Dark Force you take control of Fang, probably one of the laziest and most self-centered protagonists I’ve ever seen. After roaming around looking for some form of food, he pulls a sword out of the ground, because someone told him that it could grant any wish, and he happens to be hungry. Lo and behold, he pulls out the sword and out comes a fairy in the form of a young girl (of course). Next thing you know, he’s in jail because he stole a loaf of bread, and the fairy, Eryn, has to spring him because who else would? Fang then is pushed and prodded by Eryn in order to resurrect the Goddess and protect the world from the Evil God, or at least she tries to get Fang motivated, which he really isn’t.
In Fairy Fencer, you travel through different dungeons in order to find “Furies” necessary to revive the Goddess. You encounter monsters, maneuver terrain, and fight off your opposition. Exploration inside a field or dungeon is pretty straightforward, with a short dash in addition to standard movement, a field attack for preemptive strikes and breaking certain field items, as well as a simple jump to get you up ledges or over gaps. As you remove seals from the Goddess (or Vile God), the fairies you’ve found get put into swords that you’ve collected. These swords can then be used to “shape” the different dungeons, adding bonus exp, money, and weapon boost points. The weapon boost system is an interesting system where you can spend these points to unlock combo moves, increase base stats, increase combo hits, as well as unlocking skills. These weapon points are an interesting addition to basic leveling mechanics. While some of the skills and boosts may seem way worth too many points, later enemies will give you more points, as well as boosts from the world shaping effects.
o what are these world shaping mechanisms? Simply put, once you the powers of the seals into the swords, you can stab the swords into the ground near the dungeon you are going to. The effects attached to the swords will then apply to that dungeon, as long as the area of influence touches the dungeon icon. Influence area is determined by fairy level, which you level by equipping and bringing into battle. It’s important to remember that equipped fairies can’t be used to world shape, and fairies used to world shape can’t be equipped. Various bonuses include exp multipliers, stat increases, or decreases, and increased item drop rates. Not all effects are positive though, so some planning may be needed.
Combat in Fairy Fencer is turn based with characters and enemies taking turns performing their actions until one side stops moving. In addition to standard actions like magic, skills, guard, and attack, you can also swap characters out, if you have some in reserve, use a character specific skill, or transform. As you fight you build up a “tension” gauge, and once it reaches a certain point you can transform, which boosts your stats. The tension gauge also affects damage dealt and received, so it’s a good idea to keep it up. One very important note if you play on the harder difficulties is that enemies don’t like getting hit. As in, they have absurd evasion rates. Which brings an interesting comparison of difficulties: hard can be really difficult on a first playthrough.
After getting the platinum trophy in the first PS3 release, I figured I’d be fine on the hardest non-DLC difficulty. I did finish, but there was a ton of grinding and a lot of frustration. Higher difficulties are probably best left to new game plus runs, but thankfully, you can change difficulty whenever you want, outside of battle and cutscenes. While roaming dungeons, you can also pick up side-quests from either the local bar or from Lola, the info merchant in town. Lola’s sidequests involve Fury collection, whereas the bar quests reward you with items and cash. If you intend on finishing all of them, prepare to spend an aggravating amount of time searching for various elemental stones, because I’m sure those who’ve played the original remember that pain.
While I didn’t personally find the story or characters to be very engaging, all of the characters were at least unique, and the added expansions to the storyline in “Advent Dark Force” were a definite improvement. There were a couple of aspects for both the positive and negative sides of the game. On the positive side, you can use your mouse to click where you want to walk or run to, including inside of battle, which was great to see. Also, the New Game Plus feature was well done, as everything is carried over, and you can even use any characters you’ve unlocked up until that point, which was really nice to see. Additionally, with the addition of having up to six party members in battle adds additional strategy, and it was nice to be able to use all the characters I wanted in battle. On the other hand, there are a lot of smaller features that may be grating to some players, such as the bonus challenges and some of the side quests being incredibly tedious, as well as some of the dungeons becoming more of a pain to traverse through the further through the game you get.
In the miscellaneous category we have the soundtrack for the game. While some of the tracks were really good (I personally liked the second transformation theme), a lot of the tracks were rather plain, or even grating if you spend too much time in a given dungeon. This makes the background music both a hit and miss scenario. In the random section, the in-game tutorial tells you can do a continuous dash, but that’s only possible on a single map, which was a little disappointing, but still really fun when it was used. There is also the “coliseum” style battle tower, which was pretty fun until the second or third last floor, whichever one was the dual dragon fight, which was really awful and almost luck based, but the rest was fine.
As a port, the graphics were crisp, and the transition was well done. The movement using the mouse click was really nice to see, and for the most part the game ran really smoothly. Apart from some occasionally serious framerate drops, the game was really fluid, although that may be attributed to my computers performance, and it only tended to happen during effect intensive battles. If you’ve missed picking Fairy Fencer up for console, or the original on PC, this is definitely something you should pick up. Overall, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force was a really fun game, and the different endings you can progress through all had their own unique storylines and endings, and even the middle content was specific to the ending path you end up on. Definitely take a look at this PC port if you’re a fan of the Neptunia series, or are looking for an interesting JRPG.
Idea Factory International
Provided by Publisher
Article by Richard