Koei Tecmo’s Fairy Tail recently launched in the west for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, as well as PCs running Steam. Having long had an interest in the original anime, we couldn’t wait to try it out.
The Fairy Tail franchise is one I’d been following from afar – I had heard a lot of good things, but whenever I considered getting into it I always felt like there was far too much to catch up, with hundreds of episodes out there already. Having now played the game, I’ve at least experienced a condensed form of parts of the narrative, though I couldn’t quite shake that “I have too much to catch up on” feeling.
The game doesn’t try to compress all nine seasons and its 300+ episodes into one game, but the narrative does cover about half of it. For the casual fans, however, it’s a bit of a challenge to have to deal with the fact that the story doesn’t pick up right at the beginning but rather somewhere near the end of the fourth season. Although an in-game guide will tell you about major plot points and background information, it’s quite a lot to take in unless you’re quite well at home in the Fairy Tail universe already.
I had a casual understanding of the central concepts and premise going in, and that helped, but I could imagine complete newcomers being overwhelmed and losing interest – this one was clearly designed with the fans in mind. Koei Tecmo didn’t go the usual musou route with this one, opting for a rather traditional JRPG approach instead.
This means that you engage in turn-based battles quite a bit, which are quite well done thanks to the use of character-specific abilities and attacks that adds quite a bit of strategic depth to the confrontations you have. Outside of these battles, however, the experience quickly grows a little stale when you look past the narrative content and towards the actual gameplay.
Many of the quests in the game feel like generic fetch quests, often ending with yet another battle. This can also start feeling a tad grindy when you’re building up your guild and are confronted with the fact that you haven’t reached the right rank in order to progress yet. Off you go towards another dungeon for another side mission, while inevitably ends in another battle.
As interesting as the narrative was, if you strip it away there’s very little here that would urge people to go out and buy Fairy Tail. The combat is solid, but there are plenty options for good JRPG-style combat out there. I had a good time finally catching up on a good chunk of the Fairy Tail universe, but if you’re not mildly or heavily interested in the source material you’ll want to give this one a miss.