My interest in Fantasy Life was already piqued weeks before its due date and on release day, I rode down to my local store and purchased it with excitement. I had put myself on a black list for all information on the game itself as I like to be surprised and work out game mechanics in the moment. I was only an hour in and I already knew that the next 300 hours of my gaming life would be invested within the fantastical world of Reveria. Almost 60 hours in and I can safely say, I was correct. This game is full of fun, colour and magic. Basically, all the ingredients needed for an addictive game.
Fantasy Life begins with you creating an avatar. It took me quite a while to settle on something because there are so many options available to you. I managed to make almost a pixel copy of myself and it is almost too cute for words. You then begin the story by (literally) falling through the roof of the local real estate agent, you then become the new person in town, are summoned to the castle to meet the King and the story begins!
Let’s face it, this game does not exist purely for a storyline. This game is here for you to create a story for yourself by playing a Life. You start the game by choosing one class or ‘life’, this will be the life that carries you through the main story. However, at times an obstacle appears and in order to overcome this it, you must change your life. For example, I began my adventure with a Magician as my first life however; I then needed potions on my adventures so I trained as an alchemist. I wanted furniture for my home, so I became a carpenter but I also needed wood so had to become a Woodcutter. All the lives flow and interweave together to assist you in attaining your goal.
The development of your character is more the focus of the game than the actual storyline Endless hours will pass by as you chop wood to make furniture for your house. It is so satisfying to find that stockpile of ore you have been looking for, for an hour. The personal contentment with this game comes from completing the small tasks and quests than it does with the over aching storyline.
This game came with some high expectations given the development team behind it. Level-5, the team behind the Professor Layton series, 1-UP, responsible for Super Mario World 3D and h.a.n.d who have a claim to many popular Japanese handheld titles such as Kingdom Hearts series, were all involved in the development process. Yoshitaka Amano, illustrating genius behind the art of Final Fantasy and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Nobuo Uematsu, composer behind Final Fantasy were also heavily involved in the presentation of the game and it’s an obvious win in the game’s favour. It needed this to really bring you into the world.
It is absolutely comparable to both Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon 3D, as a focus of the game is to customise a designated space and forage through forests and deserts. The 3D actually enhances this game for once and does slightly less to give me a headache but unfortunately is still something I had to avoid. Will they ever make a game where 3D does not give me a headache? I digress…
It’s a pretty game with sharp bold lines to catch the eye, the creatures you meet on your journey are both cute and frightening and at times, it is hard to kill something. I mean, who wants to kill a big honey bear or a nap dragon? However, a life deems you must, as it’s all a part of the adventure.
Your missions and quests have you running from one city to the next fighting giant snakes and apes as you go. If you have unlocked the woodcutter and angler lives, you can stop and collect some wood or fish for later missions. One of the things I personally really enjoyed is the ability to have all the skills available for the lives you have, regardless of which one you are. So, spending some time gearing up for a hike between cities to complete some missions becomes a real interactive experience…if you want. You can easily buy everything you need OR you can actually go out and grind for it, which is what the game has exactly been designed for. The game play, excluding combat, is similar in style to both Final Fantasy, with shades of Pokemon Y.
It is a dense game. Massive. There is so much you can do. You do not have to specifically do all the quests; at times, you can deny them and take them off your list if you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Or it can do the opposite and make you play until your arms can’t hold your 3DS up anymore. As a person who thoroughly loves spending hours organising my characters in any RPG, checking my way though the questing lists gives me tingly feelings. You have three mission lists, one earns you Dosh, the game’s currency (PS you will need A LOT of it, do those quests), another earns you Stars, which level up your character and the third, advances the storyline. You companion butterfly, Flutter, is the person to go to in order to progress the story. By earning stars and levelling up, your character can allocate two points into any of the skill slots. The tricky part is deciding what to focus on the most. Word on the underground was that investing in luck was the way to go so I went with that and it proved to be a massive success.
Combat is fun and unlike other JRPG’s, is based in Real Time. It is easy enough to master and a nice change of pace, and similar to Zelda’s A Link to the Past. If there was ever a game suited to RT over turned based, it’s this one. Turn Based would break the steadiness and pacing of the game and would definitely stretch it out in an unnecessary fashion. The landscape, as mentioned, looks gorgeous and although it is pleasing to the eye, it can be a little tiring at times having to walk or ride a horse/turtle/camel everywhere. Thankfully a decent amount of fast travel is available once you really start to progress in both character and story.
Content – This game has so much you can do. It’s up to you how much content you choose to take on board which helps those who want to keep to a certain set of lives
Visuals – It is just so pretty.
Grinding and crafting – if you like collecting herbs to make potions and armour, this is your nirvana
Repetition – if you’re not interested in going back and forth many times over and incorporating it into your strategy, you most likely will not enjoy this
Story – or lack thereof rather. Whilst I am enjoying the game immensely, it’s mainly because I love the questing and crafting side of RPG’s. It actually has the base for a fantastic and engaging story however, it’s just not enough to blow my mind.