40 hours in and still counting. Fantasy Life is a Japanese action-rpg game produced by LEVEL-5, and I’ve been waiting for…almost two years to be exact! It was released in Japan back in December 27, 2012 and hit the North American market October 24, 2014. Its been eleven days since I’ve picked up the game and I’d like to provide my review to you all.
An OCD Gamer’s Best Friend
Wow…I am impressed by this game. There is so many things to do! Right from the very beginning when you are creating your character, you are already bombarded with many options to personalize your avatar’s features. There are 12 different job classes, known as Lives in the game, to choose from and they are:
Woodcutter –> The Life I started off with
The Story (Simple Version)
You start your Life in a small rented apartment in the Kingdom of Castele. As you go about meeting its citizens and performing quests to introduce you to game mechanics you meet a mysterious character in the form of a shining butterfly. You save this butterfly from being kidnapped, and this event acts as the catalyst to a grand adventure.
I love the art style, which is inspired by the work of Yoshitaka Amano. This is the guy who illustrated the art for practically the whole Final Fantasy series of games…I personally have picked up his art book, “The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy” slip-cased edition, and its fantastic! Back to the game. The art style is familiar and fitting with this game, its rich with vibrant colours and I just love how it pops out on you when the 3D feature is engaged. The cutscenes are pretty sweet too, they’re not that long but they don’t leave you feeling that they’ve shortchanged you.
Music is great, really matches the art style. What more can I say? I haven’t gotten tired of hearing its catchy tunes.
It’s action and content packed. There are a lot of things to do. I’ve gotten to the point in the game where I’ve upgraded my backpack to hold 300 items and my personal storage to hold 750 items, but you can still increase it to higher amounts (500/1500 respectively). Each item you gather, create, or loot from a fallen monster has a purpose and each one has their own unique artistic asset attributed to them.
Engaging monsters is pretty fun, I’ve experimented with using the Bow, Dagger, Claymore and a Sword and Shield combo. Each weapon type has its striking distance, speed, andwhatever fighting style you choose to apply to it. For the most part, you are not forced into fights unless it is story driven. There are no random monster encounters, and you have the ability to run away from aggressive monsters. As far as engaging monsters, you can charge at them straight, sneak up to them and unleash a quick attack, or fight from a distance and kite the monsters with long range weaponry.
The crafting system is very familiar with the whole gathering needed requirements but comes with several fun mechanics. Crafted items have several levels of quality and they are based on your skill level and the quality of the tools you used to make them. There is an aspect of a rhythm game involved, as there is a time limit, as well as actions during creation that you have to do (button mashing, holding, and timed-pressing) that also contributes to the calculation for quality for the item you are creating.
You are not alone!
You can play with friends! You don’t have any you say? No problem! You can group with in-game characters as well as any pets you own! There is also a meta-game involved using the 3DS’ Streetpass feature…if you pass someone else who has their Streetpass activated and is playing Fantasy Life as well, you will find them in your game wandering Castele! These Streetpass characters can be engaged in conversation, which will gradually build up your friendship and may lead to a gift that the other player has selected to give out as a reward.
Although there is a main story arc and key checkpoints to meet in order to progress in the game, I like how you have flexibility in prioritizing mandatory quests, side quests, and Life quests (Yes…there are 3 categories of quests!) The game has a relaxed feel to it, as you can take your time to explore and level up your Life but can turn up the gear when you finally decide to embark on a critical quest. There are different traveling options, from simple foot travel, to riding mounts, boats, and airships…currently I’m doing all travel by foot…and let me tell you, the world is vast!
What Life should I Pick? What I would suggest for anyone picking up the game that they start with a resource gathering class (Angler, Miner, Woodcutter) as the materials that they pick up will be subsequently used by the crafting classes (Alchemist, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Tailor). You can also choose the attack classes (Hunter, Mercenary, Paladin, Wizard) as they have bounty challenges on monsters found in game if you don’t want to go through the whole gathering/creating cycles.
Crafting Tips? There is an auto-creation feature that builds in bulk…I suggest bulk building to level up the skill you are trying to perfect using low level items. I use this technique in preparation to building an even higher quality item so that material is not wasted on the rarer/more expensive components.
Fighting Tips? I prefer to fight form a distance. I use my pet dog and another ally to act as a meat shield against strong monsters. If their life bar reaches zero, there is a respawn counter that is engaged but if you go close to your ally, you can bring them back up to about half their health. Rinse and repeat…just don’t die! And if you do…make sure you have Life Cures to allow for on-the-spot resurrection.
The Bottom Line
This game is a quality buy. Personally, the games that LEVEL-5 produces are top notch and you really get the bang for your buck. The art and music are great and I enjoy the leisurely pace that the game sets. I see myself playing this game for a while.
- Game pace is leisurely
- A lot of things to do
- Familiar game play with unique tweaks
- Switching between classes requires travel back to the Guild House…which is really far! Especially if you are in another city!