Video game adaptations of anime series are a dime a dozen. I can name off plenty of Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and now even My Hero Academia games off the top of my head, and typically they're all frenetic brawlers. It seems that now, however, there are fewer RPGs based on their source material, when sometimes that's the game type that would fit the series best. That's why I was excited to see that Gust, the developer of the Atelier series, had taken point on a JRPG based on the popular anime adventure Fairy Tail.
As the first Fairy Tail adventure to officially make its way westward for eager fans, it's a surprisingly meaty chunk of the series that should please both those jumping into the storyline without any prior knowledge as well as hardcore fans who have been searching for a way to relive their favorite moments for some time. My time with the simply-titled Fairy Tail was pleasant and exciting, and while it won't appeal to all non-fans, it's got plenty of enjoyable moments that make it a great play for JRPG fans in general.
Getting up to speed
Fairy Tail (yes, tail like that of an animal) takes place in a massive world filled with guilds that, like in various RPGs you're already familiar with, take on tasks for others to fulfill them. This particular game takes place following a large expanse of the anime series that has passed, so unless you follow the anime closely or have a passing interest in looking up aspects of the story, you might be a bit confused when you jump in.
However, a little research will have you up to speed in no time. Just know that if you care about the story at all, and you likely will since this is an RPG, you'll need to do a little more reading than you would with your typical game to feel up to speed. That's one unfortunate hurdle that I wish Gust would have avoided, but the story likely wouldn't have been able to pick up where it does had the developers taken time to walk everyone through the first part of the story.
In a nutshell, this Fairy Tail story kicks off after the Fairy Tail guild has gone through some fairly difficult times. I won't get into specifics here, as it can get decently complicated. Just know that the story moves at a decent clip and will try to get you up to speed, but if you still have questions you might want to read through the in-game texts to figure out what's going on. I highly recommend giving the manga a read or watching some of the anime for more context.
Aside from the story, which is the most important part of the whole game, you're going to be spending a lot of time in battle. As you're exploring the world and fulfilling requests, you'll be thrown into a wide variety of random enemy encounters that can admittedly vary wildly in power. That's why you need to make sure you're honing your skills more than ever as you make your way throughout each area of the game. It's good to familiarize yourself with all the enemy types as you make progress.
If you've ever played any of Gust's installments in the Atelier series, you'll be immediately familiar with some of the battle situations you'll find yourself faced with. Each party member gets a set of commands to execute at the beginning of the game that will change and grow over the course of the story.
There are pretty standard moves, such as lesser attacks and regular magical abilities to unleash on your enemies. As always, you need to keep an eye on your HP so you don't find yourself knocked out, but in Fairy Tail, you must also be mindful of your MP gauge as well, as it has the same effect. This might be a bit difficult to do if you're slinging out magic-heavy attacks here and there, but it adds a fun new complex layer to the overall package.
There are also Extreme Magic configurations, which are super flashy, over-the-top moves that become available when you're near death: your HP needs to be low or you'll have to have created a Magic Chain to get the chance to use Extreme Magic as a finishing blow. Magic Chains form when you continue to use your party's skills one after another to rack up the most damage you can against more powerful enemies.
Altogether, these elements make the combat you'll be in for larger expanses of the game feel worthwhile and fun, though it can begin to wear on the nerves if you find yourself executing tasks in the same area for the same window of time over and over.
Most of your time will be spent within Fairy Tail taking on requests for those around the world in a bid to grow your guild as large as possible. Perhaps unsurprisingly, you'll have to kill tons of different enemies. Sometimes you'll meet a variety of new characters through doing this, and you'll also pack in some jewels for your time as well. All of this does tie into the story, and as you earn more currency and your guild expands, you'll watch Fairy Tail grow into an even more formidable force to be reckoned with.
There's plenty to see while you're exploring the world in search of ways to expand, too. This is a gorgeous world practically teeming with life, with minute details from the anime and manga lovingly crafted here. Everything, from a character's countenance to the way their personas are depicted in and out of battle, feels like the anime series having come to life. It's impressive, to say the least, and a good indicator of what we could expect from anime-centric games on the PlayStation 5 in the near future.
The music and voice overs are great, too – though my one complaint is that there wasn't an English voiceover option available. I vastly prefer dubs in games to subs so I can hear incidental dialogue when there aren't subtitles, but this is a relatively small complaint.
Once upon a time
Fairy Tail is a great example of how good RPGs based on anime series can be, even if you don't know much (or anything at all) about the anime in question. I appreciated its challenging combat, extensive amount of quests and enemies to tackle, and the way it absolutely nailed the anime's aesthetic. I'd love to see other anime series tackled by Gust in the future – possibly a Jojo's Bizarre Adventure game someday. For now, I'm going to go and watch more Fairy Tail since the game has me hooked.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. Fairy Tail is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
- Faithful to the anime series
- Colorful, great-looking visuals
- Lengthy storyline to complete
- Plenty of content to work through
- Can be difficult to understand if you're not a fan of the series
- Occasionally repetitive tasks
- No English voiceover option
Brittany Vincent posted a new article, Fairy Tail review: Happily ever after for fans
I have only one question: does the game have gratuitous use of the "WOW!" sound effect?