Developer: SKIPMORE, Flyhigh Works, URARA-WORKS
Publisher: CIRCLE Entertainment
Platforms: iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita
Tested on PlayStation Vita
Fairune – Review
Some of us at the 3rd-Strike.com office have been around for a few decades and been enjoying the wondrous rise of the videogame industry. About 20 years ago, there wasn’t anyone complaining about the lack of high definition graphics or sixty frames per second. There were only 8bit graphics and pixels on your Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64 or Atari computer system and it was the best experience you could get at that time. Nonetheless there were a wide range of games and genres available for everyone and roleplaying games also had their successes. After almost 30 years, there are a lot of developers who try to keep that experience intact. One of those examples is Fairune, an 8bit roleplaying adventure created by Flyhigh Works which is available for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and the mobile platforms (Android, iOS). Sensing a new adventure, we jump back through time in this 8bit retro adventure.Story
You’re a nameless heroine, awakened from a long slumber by the Ancient Codex, a talking book. He requires your help in order to restore the order in the world of Fairune, where illusion is reality. Three fairy-like Spirit Icons sealed away a great evil spirit at the center of the realm, but one day… the Spirit Icons disappeared and strange events began to occur. In the blink of an eye, the world of Fairune was overrun by monsters. As monsters and such have been running amok, it has been very dangerous, but this was kind of custom in the lands of Fairune as it occurs every one hundred years. Now, the task lies with the nameless heroine to seek out the three missing Spirit Icons and seal off the scourge once more.
The story itself is pretty self-explanatory and even feels like you’ve heard it all before as it has a slight ‘Legend of Zelda’ vibe. This isn’t a bad thing as it keeps the story simple and interesting. Unfortunately except for the short introduction, that is where the story stops. The codex remains at your side and that’s all he does. He doesn’t offer guidance (except for which monster would be best to deal with next), doesn’t tell background information about locations or hasn’t got a real function at all. The lack of story content feels really odd, especially if you’re used to more expanded stories in roleplaying games. On the other hand, the main goal of the game can’t be more obvious but still, a bit more story elements would’ve improved the overall game experience.Graphics
Fairune is an 8bit game in commemoration of the 8bit classics from the past. The visuals are what you would expect from a retro 8bit game aside from some decent polishing and HD visuals. Everything from the sprites, aside from their small size (monsters, character…), surroundings and maps look really gorgeous and offer a warm, diverse color palette which is truly a sight for sore eyes. Because of the quality of the visuals, it would seem that Fairune leans closer to a 16bit game than the 8bit game it appears to be. Fairune is played in a sort of top down view just like the older Zelda games and really adds to the feel of nostalgia while playing these games. If you’re a fan of 8bit retro games and its distinctive visual style, than this might be something you’d like.Sound
Fairune doesn’t offer an extensive soundtrack or something like voice talents, but presents itself as a genuine retro game with ambient music that fits the setting of the game and even accentuates Fairune’s straightforwardness. Every area, map and even the boss fight, offers a different soundtrack that perfectly fits the situation and is never boring to hear. Except for a limited amount of sound effects, Fairune doesn’t offer additional distinctive audio.
Fairune is an 8bit retro puzzle adventure game. Here we must really stress out the strong focus on puzzling. At first glance it might play like an old Zelda game and still you’ll have to solve problems and riddles for the majority of the game. It feels as if the game or at least the game world is one giant puzzle. The puzzles are fairly extensively present and must be solved to continue or open blocked paths. Fairune’s game world is built like a giant labyrinth where you can stumble into completely different additional maps offering more problems or puzzles to solve, ranging from finding hidden paths by paying attention to your surroundings, to simply locating and utilizing the right items or equipment at the right location.Combat doesn’t work in the conventional way you would expect. In Fairune you’ll run over the monsters and crush them. If a monster is the same level as you, it will be destroyed, and you will take one point of damage and receive some experience points. If the monster has a higher level, it will still be destroyed and you’ll receive a bit more experience points but receive more damage points in return, and if the monster is too high level, it will bump you back and cause considerable damage. This results in a constant search for new groups with the right kind of monsters to gain experience and level up. When you level up, you won’t receive overall attribute points as it will only increase your hit points and which kind of monsters you’ll be able to topple next. On the one hand, it makes the game a lot more strategic and makes you think it through before blindly rushing an opponent, while on the other hand, this would turn the game into a slow and tedious grind with a lot of backtracking. If you die, the game isn’t really punishing as you’ll respawn from where you originally started the game with your level and items intact. The downside is that you’ll probably need to backtrack considerably in order to get back to where you’ve died.Both combat and puzzles aren’t that extremely challenging but succeed in delivering a simple, straightforward old school experience. As there are no direct aids or tips on how to continue, and the game requiring a lot backtracking, a lot of players will probably pass on Fairune. For players experienced in roleplaying and similar puzzle games, Fairune will be a walk in the park though. The game takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete if you take your time, while others will probably beat the game in less than 2 hours. There isn’t a real replay value except for the completionists who like to collect a platinum trophy or achievements.
Fairune is a cute and fun homage to the old school RPG games with a lot of puzzling. Alas, it’s one of those games not meant for everyone as the game is a bit too complex for casual players to enjoy and only fans of the genre will be satisfied. So, if you’re looking for something to keep you busy on a long train ride or if you’re in the waiting room at the doctor, than Fairune might be an ideal appetizer.