Friday, November 07, 2014

I've spent two weeks with Fantasy Life (3DS) and here's what I think of it so far

The copy of Fantasy Life I pre-ordered months ago and have longed for ever since has been in my hands--or, rather, crammed inside my pink-and-white 3DS XL--for just about two weeks now.

In those 15 or so days, I've spent more than 45 hours with this Level-5-made title. (In fact, nearly 12 of those 45 hours occurred during my first weekend with the game.)

Given that, you might assume I consider Fantasy Life to be the greatest thing since sliced bread (or whatever the gaming equivalent of that would be). It's not, of course. Oh, it's a pretty stellar game overall, no doubt about it, but it's also got its share of flaws--with its sluggish start and subsequent wordiness being the two biggest.

My character, Lenna, early on during my playthrough.

Aside from those unfortunate niggles, though, I've found Fantasy Life to be an absolute joy to play thus far. As for why that is, here are what I hope to be a few pertinent thoughts:

Job number one--There's no question that, for me, the main draw of Fantasy Life was its vaunted job system. Specifically, the ability to spend my time in this game as a blacksmith or carpenter or cook--or all three, along with any of its other nine occupations--was something I considered too enticing to pass up. And you know what? Doing just that is even more fun than I thought it would be. Granted, some of the jobs aren't entirely what you may have imagined them to be--as a cook, you don't really help run a restaurant, for instance--but even so they're quite a bit of fun. (Note: I've only worked on five "classes" so far: angler, blacksmith, mercenary, miner and woodcutter--though I plan on trying out carpenter, hunter and tailor this weekend.) The best part, in my humble opinion, is that whenever you tire of one occupation, you can simply switch to another until you're ready to give the original one another shot.

Fishing is, by far, my favorite "job."

How can they be baddies if they look so goodie?--I doubt anyone is going to describe Fantasy Life as the most attractive 3DS game they've ever come across, but that doesn't mean it's not pretty darn easy on the eyes. That's especially true of the multitudes of enemies that players encounter while traversing its overworld. A healthy percentage of them wouldn't be out of place in a Dragon Quest game--and I mean that in the best possible way. Lumbering dragons, loping panthers, swooping owls and even shuddering trees (palm trees, in fact) abound, and all of them are admirably--and amusingly--constructed and animated. (One of my favorites is the blue bear who cartoonishly pirouettes upon being slain.) Oh, and the many men and women (and other creatures) who tend to accompany players on their journeys are similarly impressive from both a design and animation standpoint.

Although I also enjoy exploring caves.

The soundtrack of my life--Although I'm sure renowned composer Nobuo Uematsu has his detractors, I've never been one of them. As such, it shouldn't be too surprising to hear me say that I'm fairly enamored with Fantasy Life's soundtrack. The tunes that resonate with me most are those that are subtle and atmospheric--like the shimmering one that kicks in at the top of Mount Snowpeak or the one that's present while exploring Cacto Cove. The rousing, bombastic ones--like the jaunty overworld and boss-battle themes--are nice, too, don't get me wrong, but I tend to prefer the softer, more lyrical ones.

I told you I like fishing.

Whack-a-mole? More like whack-everything-in-sight--Another area of Fantasy Life that's really dug its claws into me so far is its battle system. Actually, it feels kind of funny to call what's present here a battle "system," as it isn't all that different from what's found in games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (or A Link to the Past before it). Still, the combos and charged attacks that are included in Fantasy Life add just enough depth to the proceedings for them to seem fresh and fun--or at least keep them from seeming like brainless hack-and-slash affairs. Anyway, all that really needed to be said here is that, even after more than 40 hours of play, I still get a kick out of fighting this game's enemies--and that's not something you can say about a lot of RPGs these days.

Easily one of the prettiest areas of the game.

I know the above doesn't cover all that Fantasy Life has to offer, but I hope it covers enough to give interested parties an idea as to why I've enjoyed the game so much to this point--and why I'm not planning on putting it away anytime soon.

I'll do my best to share additional thoughts in an upcoming post or two (or maybe even--gasp!--a "Great Gaymathon" review), but in the meantime I'd like to hear from any of you who also are playing through this adorable RPG. What do you think of it so far? Which parts of it do you like best--or least?


Zach said...

Gahh, I love the game. I'm roughly 30 hours in and have been an alchemist the entire time. The minigame for crafting is super addicting, and the fact that I can make all my items instead of purchasing them (though obviously having to buy ingredients for bigger recipes later) is incredible to me. I'm a big fan of FFXIV right now, and I feel like this is a perfectly condensed version of that in a way--the grinding is wayyy more fun though, to me.

And being an alchemist didn't totally retract from the combat as I feared it might! I spent some time crafting HP Potions and Mini/Medium Bombs and have made myself into quite the ~bombastic~ combatant! I love the way the combat "system" is set up too, where you can attack anything you wanna attempt going against.

But I think far and away my favorite part of the game is the writing. Some say is a little too verbose, which I understand!.... but honestly I wouldn't mind playing through twice as much text if it was all as fun as it is. I haven't had this much fun reading RPG text since EarthBound. On a personal note, it's really encouraging to someone like me who might be seeking to work in localization/copy writing some day! said...

Hello, Zach! Thanks for the comment :)

I'm soooo glad to hear you're enjoying this game, too. It's the best, isn't it? Or maybe, in your case, you'd say, "the bomb"? ;)

I'm amazed you've yet to try any other jobs, though. You should! You can always go back to alchemist, you know.

Which reminds me, I have to try that job myself soon--especially since I've yet to even USE a mini/medium bomb!

My fave jobs so far are angler, miner and woodcutter, although blacksmith is a blast, too.

Oh, and I actually agree with you regarding the quality of the writing in this game. I'm definitely one of the folks who consider it to be too wordy, but at least what's there is superbly written.

I actually was going to chat a bit about that aspect of the game in this post, but in the end I just wasn't sure how I explain my feelings on the subject :|

Finally, YES, I also love that most everything's always out in the open in this game. You may not be able to defeat a certain creature, or cut down a certain tree, but you can give it your best if you'd like. I love that kind of thing :)

Zaphod65 said...

I'm enjoying the game very much. I consider Angler to be my main job, but I have no doubts I'll eventually max out all of them. There are still four jobs I haven't tried yet: Cook, Alchemist, Paladin, and Magician. There's still a lot to do.

I really like being able to turn the large trophy fish into paintings to decorate my house. There will be no doubt a fisherman lives there. lol

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

I'm nearing 60 hours of and I'm only 4 chapters into the story so I think it's fair to say that I'm addicted to this game. As for the things you consider flaws I agree with but an other thing bothers me is that if you own the DLC/don't own the DLC you can only play with other people who also own the DLC/don't own the DLC. I also don't like how the butterfly is just called Butterfly.

There's no job I would consider my main one yet (I've played all of them and have gotten all of them to Expert) but when I'm playing the story I'm either a paladin or a mercenary. I've have tried local multi-player with a friend but so far the vast majority of the game I've played as a single player experience.

I'm also found of the monster designs but I've notice one monster is clearly an ostrich but they call it a road-runner. Maybe they mistranslated the name?

So far my favorite songs in the game are the ones used in the desert areas.

As for combat I don't have anything to add to the conversation about this game in that regard.

While I consider the game-play between Animal Crossing and Fantasy Life to be different as night and day I would consider Fantasy Life the Animal Crossing of RPGs in the sense that both have plenty of things do but everything you can do is kept simple and both games have a play the way you want game play style.

Also if you do an other article about Fantasy Life I would suggest maybe adding that luck might be the most important stat. The game state improves the chances of getting critical hits but it also seems to suggest that it improves the chance of getting rare items when gathering/fishing and better chances of making high quality items when crafting. said...

I'm also planning to max out all of the jobs, Terry, although that's likely to take me a while, as I've still yet to try seven of them :| Maybe I'll start a couple of them tomorrow.

Also, I haven't turned any of my trophy fishes into paintings yet! Again, tomorrow :) said...

Ah, yes, I've heard that about the DLC, Sam, which is too bad. I've yet to buy the DLC myself, although I'll definitely be buying it soon. Of course, I've also yet to play with anyone on line, so I guess I won't be missing out on anything in that regard at least.

Your comparison between Animal Crossing and Fantasy Life makes sense to me and is about the only one of that sort that I've agreed with so far. Usually, I think bringing up Animal Crossing in relation to this game just confuses people, as it makes them think they're going to be playing a game that's *like* Animal Crossing, which definitely isn't the case. You're right, though, that Fantasy Life is Animal Crossing-like in that there are tons of things to do and all of them are relatively simple.

Thanks for the note about the importance of the luck stat in this game. I actually wasn't aware of that until now--or at least I wasn't completely aware of it. I guess I am now, though :)

Justin Difazzio said...

Damnit, Bryan. You're not helping me NOT want this game with this review! My desire for Fantasy Life hasn't diminished. At all. I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy it for myself as a "Yay! You finished your novel!" present at the end of National Novel Writing Month. Im only 35,000 words from the end!

I wanted to be all about the non-combat classes when I played it, just because I could...but the more I read about all the classes, the more excited I become for the combat classes. Dang it.

If I make it through this month without breaking down and buy it, it'll be a miracle. I've looked at it in the eShop with my finger hovering over the "purchase" button four times already. I need a lock on that thing. said...

Ha! Sorry, Justin. I can't help myself, though. THAT is how much this game has wormed its way into my system.

One thing you'll probably like to hear about this game, by the way, is that even when you're not "working" one of the combat jobs, you're still able to take down foes--usually with a dagger of some sort. And for a long time, that's perfectly acceptable. In fact, I didn't tackle a combat class until around the 30-hour mark, I think.

Also, you'll definitely jump back and forth between jobs/classes no matter which ones you choose. At the moment, I'm flitting between angler and miner and blacksmith, although I'm about to start a few new ones today (carpenter and hunter).

Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you think of this game after you finally start playing it!

Franggio Hogland said...

Come now :D You can party in your PJs with us ^^ said...

Ha! That's great, Franggio :) Did you snap this shot, BTW? If so, which job had you mastered at this point? I've mastered angler and mercenary so far.

Adam Lee said...

I've not been playing Fantasy Life as much as I should be doing (blame everything else I'm playing at the moment :P), but must say, your great words really have me in the mood for it now.

Do agree on the battle system points, it's just simple fun. Same reasons why one would never find the Legend of Zelda battle system a boring one - it's one that grows on you right from the start. Such fun.

& I love your character. She's adorable. :3 said...

Oh, that's OK, Adam. You can always come back to Fantasy Life after you've tired of those other games. It'll still be there for you--I hope! ;)

Anyway, yes, this game's battle system definitely should appeal to players right from the start--and then grow on them from there thanks to the various charge attacks and combos that are added later on.

Thanks, by the way, for the kind words about my character. I like her, too :)

Franggio Hogland said...

Yes Bryan I did :)
Oh I'm a God in Mining, Blacksmithing and in the Paladin life. a Hero Mercenary, Master in Woodcutting, Carpentry, Fishing(angler), tailoring and Alchemist. Cooking and Hunting is at a lowly adepts rank and Magician is stuck at Fledgling.
But just a FYI, in Origin Island(expansion) it can become pretty hard if you don't have a fighting Vocation or at least pretty good gear to survive :)

PS. Remember that I have a whole months head start. One of those times it's good that I didn't fully switch over to a US 3DS :) said...

Oh, right! Now I remember you talking about having a month-long head start in an earlier comment.

Don't worry about me and Origin Island, BTW. I've got the mercenary job up to Expert so far, and I'm sure to get it at least one or two levels higher before I finally buy the DLC.

That's certainly a good word of warning to others, though!

Franggio Hogland said...

Yeah my little miner got flattened by a gang of small Pterodactyls.

Origin island is very charming *imo*. And even there everything is doable even if you decide to go with just NPC partners instead of multiplayer. Oh and btw the dlc also adds different customisation options for your appearances iirc.
But man did this game remind me how much I miss Level-5 :) said...

All of that is great to hear, Franggio--well, except for the part about getting flattened by a gang of pterodactyls XD

It's also great to hear about the additional customization options that open up once the DLC is added. I doubt I'll take advantage of any of them, though--unless some new hairstyle options are introduced?

Franggio Hogland said...

Yes I think so. I haven't created a new one and I started with the DLC bought so not sure which are new but I found a japanese blogger with some posted adorable screens though.

They did it the normal way though. Buying the dlc after she was done with the normal play :) said...

Thanks for the additional info and link, Franggio! ^_^

Franggio Hogland said...

My pleasure :)
It's always so friendly here and really interesting, keep it up Bryan :D said...

Thank you, Franggio, I really appreciate hearing that! And I'll definitely do my best to keep it up :)

diaglyph said...

I picked this up. I plan on playing it soon, perhaps during the summer break. My friends have been going on about it hehe said...

Hey there, Igor! That's great that you picked it up. When's your summer break--soon, I'm guessing?

diaglyph said...

Yea in a couple weeks :)
Though currently I've been playing Bayonetta 2 (and little bit of Hyrule Warriors lol).
Also SMT4 has finally been released and PersonaQ is coming out at the end of the November LOL
Too many games! said...

Jealous! Although I guess I'll be off in a couple of weeks myself, so maybe I shouldn't be too jealous ;)

How are you liking Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors so far, BTW?

As for SMT4, I've got it but I've also yet to open it XD And I'm definitely picking up Persona 4 at some point, but probably not until after the holidays. Like you said, too many (other) games!

diaglyph said...

Love Bayonetta 2! It's a huge improvement over the first game. It looks colourful, Bayonetta is just as sassy, more crazy story/scenarios - lots of fun :)
Hyrule Warriors is basically Zelda fan service haha it's surprisingly fun.

I'm thinking I may get SMT4 later (it's a download only game over here, so I don't think it will suddenly disappear) but pick up PersonaQ as that may become rare here (physical release). said...

Oh, I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Bayonetta 2. I've heard only good things about it from people who've played it so far.

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Hyrule Warriors, too. I'm not entirely sure it's something I would enjoy playing (the gameplay looks too repetitive), but it certainly looked pretty darn good when I saw it being demoed at PAX Prime a few months ago.

As for buying--or not buying--SMTIV and Persona Q: I completely forgot that SMTIV is digital-only in your region. In that case, I think you're wise to go with PQ first.

I'm actually slightly worried that not picking up PQ at launch is going to bite me in the butt--as in, copies will be kind of expensive even a month or two after release--but I'm hoping I'm wrong...

Nathan said...

I still haven't got this game. I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted it. But your review has made my mind up. Next pay day I'm getting this baby :) said...

The pressure! Ack!! Seriously, though, I hope you enjoy it, Nathan. I'm just over 55 hours in now and still loving the hell out of it :)