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Game Info:

FAIRY TAIL
Developed By: Gust/Koei Tecmo Games
Published By: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: July 29, 2020
Available On: Windows, PS4, Switch
Genre: Role Playing Game
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes
MSRP: $59.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Koei Tecmo Games for sending us this title to review!

Several years ago, my daughters and their best friend came home excitedly and started talking about Fairy Tail, this anime they started to watch together. Being a good parent (and an anime fan myself), I try to watch what my kids are getting into as much as is reasonably possible so I can give them my approval or otherwise. While Fairy Tail certainly has women in some rather exposing outfits, it's mostly about fun, friends, and defeating evil. And, as it turns out, it's really enjoyable to watch.

So, my wife and I watched several seasons early on, typically watching a season at a time, over the course of several years. Earlier this year, we decided to watch another season or two, and as it happens, seasons four and five. As luck would have it, this game, FAIRY TAIL, picks up exactly where I left off in the anime!

The introduction to the game takes place right at the end of season four, where Natsu and friends are in the middle of fighting the leader of Grimoire Heart, an incredibly powerful dark guild. Once he is defeated, and you and your friends are on Tenrou Island, the apocalyptically powerful dragon Acnologia attacks, threatening to kill you all. Thankfully, you are all protected in a magic barrier, and are frozen in time for seven years. It is after this long break that you return to the Fairy Tail guild, only to find that it’s out of money, and it went from the strongest guild to the weakest in those seven years. It’s up to you to restore Fairy Tail to be the best once again.

Once that premise is set up, from there you have the main overarching goal, which is to increase Fairy Tail's rank. It starts at 'D', and must progress through C/B/A, and finally to S. If you want to see all that there is, you have to work towards becoming number one out of 150 or so guilds.

While playing the game, your party includes whichever Fairy Tail members you selected (or were required to select) at this particular time. The cast selection is pretty extensive, and you keep adding to the group as you keep playing. You explore a 3D rendered town/forest/mountain/etc., and move your characters about. There are many people in town, but only a few actually allow you to interact with them. In an area with monsters, you can sneak up on them and press the attack button to get a speed advantage against them. Most battles can be avoided, unless they are required for plot or otherwise, though you're likely to pay for it later if you avoid too much, as you may need that experience to defeat later enemies.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun homage to the popular Fairy Tail anime; interesting turn-based combat (with real-time elements); characters and art look nice; very good music; lots of art, lore, and other details for fans of Fairy Tail to enjoy; covers significant parts of the Fairy Tail storyline and keeps things interesting; runs well on my PCs
Weak Points: Significant parts of the story are glossed over via a few slideshows strewn throughout; assumes you are already familiar with the characters, so it’s really meant for fans of the anime/manga, and is a massive spoiler if you aren’t caught up; relatively short for a modern RPG (though this didn’t bother me)
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence, with groups of people beating up other humans, monsters, and mystical/dark creatures in turn-based combat; PG-13 level curse words like 'd*mn', 'h*ll', 'b*st*rd' and '*ss' present; all playable characters are wizards, who primarily use magic to attack; presence of dragons, demons, and necromancy; some characters call themselves 'god slayers'; several references to alcohol; some characters, especially females, often wear very little clothing, or what they have is extremely form-fitting, leaving little to the imagination; some girls compare breast sizes; in-game dialogue discussed a woman having to get naked in front of everyone, and with another talking about sexual harassment; one guy takes his clothes off randomly (but not completely - anymore); a woman is completely obsessed with a guy to the point of making a cardboard cutout of him to snuggle with

Battle itself is fairly straightforward, with some interesting twists on the classic turn-based formula. Combat is primarily done through a menu system, and each character gets their own turn. Once you choose your menu item selection, you get to watch the results of what you chose. While this is the case for a majority of combat, there are also skills and actions that you unlock as you go through your journey where you can activate more powerful 'modes', counter attack, or various other things where pressing a timed button press can be critical for defeating your enemies. This shift between calm (menus) and action (button presses) keeps things engaging.

There is also a grid system in battle, where enemies are lined up in a 3x3 grid, and your attacks each will do damage to some combination of grid tiles. Some only damage one, others a large block, with some using a mostly contiguous pattern of some kind. Outside of animation and elemental affinities (each attack can be one of several elements like fire/ice/sky/lightning/etc., others include light and dark/demon. This variation of element and grid position as well as damage output for each attack helps bring a fair amount of variety between each playable character, encouraging you to try them all out.

(As an aside, if you've ever played a recent Gust game, aspects were clearly borrowed from their other titles. And if the more subtle aspects, like the game engine weren't enough, whenever you investigate a barrel, your character yells 'barrel!' This is a trademark of Gust's Atelier series. When I first started playing it, I called it Atelier Tail, because it's pretty obvious to fans of the Atelier series.)

In order to increase your guild rank, you are given various requests to take on the request board, along with character story sequences. Eventually, you can also upgrade your guild's facilities, with things like an item shop, a bar, a library, and more. These upgrades, along with the many requests, are certainly a time and money sink to keep you having something to look towards. Requests range from simple 'hunt monster here' to more involved stories that explores a small aspect of a character's personality. You can also do requests for villagers, which are basically simple fetch quests. The rewards are almost always worth it, though. I will say that most of the people in town can't be interacted with - you walk right through them. You can only talk to maybe one in ten at best, so the towns are more empty than they might first appear.

What surprised me about a game like this was how fast-paced it is, especially if you choose to enable animation skips in battle. You can warp to almost any region instantly; the game maps are just a couple of button presses away, as you just warp from one to another. You can run by holding the right bumper on the gamepad, and I never felt like you ran too slowly. Almost all cut scenes can be skipped if you so choose, though I'm not the type of player to do that. As a result, it rarely feels like a slog to play through, but it also tends to go by somewhat quickly - I beat this game in a pretty complete fashion (got to rank 1, though I haven't unlocked the most difficult character to get yet) in just under fifty hours. While that game length is perfectly fine, it's quite a bit shorter than many recent games tend to be. I can imagine that if you stick mostly to the main story, you could easily shave ten hours off of that total.

The art style is not surprisingly a reasonably recreation of the anime characters, rendered in 3D. It looks pretty good, though I do wish it had some kind of super sampling available. The music is great - it's been stuck in my head quite a bit while playing this game. A few of the songs sound 'Atelier-like' to me, though most fit in quite well with the Fairy Tail aesthetic. The voice acting is sadly all in Japanese, though I honestly had no issue following along with the subtitles. Honestly, how remarkably similar the English and Japanese cast sounds is a testament to how well those who dubbed the English anime adaptation did their jobs.

FAIRY TAIL
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability/Polish - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 58%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Sadly, like the source material, there is quite a bit to be aware of when it comes to appropriateness. While I think the ESRB's Teen rating is reasonable, it can help to dig into specifics.

To begin with, there is animated fantasy violence, which is common to games of this genre. Enemies include humans, animal-like monsters, and darker mystical creatures as well. Some enemies are demons and use necromancy. All characters are wizards and use magic; some throw fire or other powerful elemental attacks, while others summon creatures to do their bidding. One character's skill is called 'Satan Soul' and she can transform into one of several demons. (Like in the anime, her powers aren't revealed until later.) Several characters refer to themselves as 'dragon slayers', 'god slayers', or 'demon slayers'. It all seems pretty consistent with the kind of things you might find in the anime. PG-13 level curse words are present, and include words like 'd*mn', 'h*ll', 'b*st*rd' and '*ss'. There are references to alcohol both in the guild hall while celebrating, and in a few character arcs.

There are quite a few females meant to be attractive, and they quite often wear extremely exposing outfits. This includes some of the main characters, who consistently wear very short shorts with exposed midriffs and significant cleavage. Some of these women move in ways to draw attention to their cleavage as well. There are also swimsuit outfits available, including a beach scene where you see a bunch of the girls swimming together. A couple of them also are either younger or 'less endowed', and discussions are made to that effect.

One of the male characters has a habit of stripping in front of everyone, and it's a long-running gag of the series. Apparently in the past, he asked a girl to borrow her underwear because he somehow lost his, though this happens in the form of a recollection and not on screen. He never takes off more than his shirt on screen. There is also talk of a woman being humiliated in her guild because of a failure on her part; when she was kicked out, she was forced to undress in front of everyone to remove her guild mark in their presence. This also takes place off screen. There are also conversations about how certain conduct could be sexual harassment, and another woman is obsessed with the target of her affections enough to create a cutout of him that she has been known to snuggle with.

FAIRY TAIL is really a lot of fun if you are an existing fan of the Fairy Tail franchise. It gives a decent amount of time to character interactions, the stories are all interesting, and combat is fun and engaging. There is still room for improvement, as it felt like it could use a bit more polish at times; for example, bonding events are a bit short, and some character combinations don't offer one at all. And some parts of the story gloss over entire story arcs with just a few slides to summarize what just happened. But overall, I'm still really glad I got to play this game, even if it did spoil most of the rest of the series for me. If you are also a fan, I think you'll enjoy this also, and I'm sure you have a pretty good idea of what kind of appropriateness issues to expect. If you aren't a fan of Fairy Tail, I'd suggest watching the show or reading the manga first, both to familiarize yourself with them, and to give you a good idea on what to expect from the appropriateness.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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