As I’ve been starting up a new life myself by becoming a blacksmith, I think it’s rather fitting to talk about my first impressions of Fantasy Life. Don’t worry, there’ll be some blacksmithing shenanigans soon enough; I’m waiting for some photos of our group from the photographer, and I’ll be writing up a post on that as soon as possible.
But, since I had some downtime, I kept going at it in Fantasy Life and finished unlocking the first level of each Life (and some second levels as well), and I think it shows a number of the mechanics that’ll make the review at least interesting!
Fantasy Life is reminiscient of most RPGs: you have a silent protagonist (which you customize!) thrown into society. Literally.
Everyone must choose a Life (or a “noble profession,” like farming) when they reach a certain age. Your character has been slacking, and is now getting kicked into gear by your landlady. You then strike out into the world to start a Life and all of the adventures that entails!
==What You Get==
For a completionist, this game is pure crack. No, I’m not exaggerating here. You start the game with the ability to choose a Life out of twelve possibilities: Paladin, Mercenary, Hunter, Mage, Miner, Woodcutter, Alchemist, Cook, Angler, Blacksmith, Carpenter, and Tailor. While it is entirely possible to play the game as just a single Life, where’s the fun in that?
As you play through the story, you unlock more locations, including towns, dungeons, and the like, so there’s apparently quite a bit to explore.
As you gain levels with each “Life,” you unlock more side quests, which increase how fast you can level up within your Life (new abilities and special bonuses) as well as in general (more HP and stats).
==What I’ve Played==
So far, I’ve sunk ten hours into the game.
No, I haven’t even left the first town.
You see, in Fantasy Life, you CAN just pick one Life, but as I said, where’s the fun in that? I knew what my goal was, though: be a self-sufficient warrior so I wouldn’t have to buy ANYTHING from the shops. With that in mind, I went with being a miner.
I know most people assumed I would have started as a Blacksmith, but when you consider that you need materials to be a blacksmith (speaking from experience), I figured Miner was a good starting point.
Now, each Life has a Master, and the Master runs you through a few tests as they teach you the basics of your Life. By the end of the quest line, you are a Fledgling, and can leave town, especially since your magical talking butterfly (who, I assume, is the Goddess that granted the 12 Life options to humanity) suggests it.
Instead, I went back to the Guild Hall and picked up another Life, this time as a Blacksmith. Now, I learned at this point I can skip the introductory quests, but knowing that each quest involves running around town (and giving more opportunities to pick up materials as they respawn), meeting NPCs, getting some cash (about 500 dosh each time; enough for some materials or an upgrade), making items (which actually nets XP), and knowing there’s a story behind each Master and fellow apprentice that I couldn’t pass it up.
So now I’m ten hours into the game. I’m just starting the Paladin quest line (my preferred combat class from what I’ve read), and I have hit the point where I’ve mastered most of the beginning recipes (and a number of the professions are now at Level 2).
Honestly, I’m loving the game. The storyline is light and carefree so far, and everything’s easy to follow.
Combat is reminiscent of Secret of Mana with the button presses and charged attacks, which catches my attention without even trying. There’s also a stamina gauge that, when it goes too low, you can’t do much (including running!)
There’s also plenty to do and lots of ways to gain experience. Need more HP and stat points? Go craft stuff, explore, and kill things for XP. Need to level up your ability to sneak? Just randomly sneak around town and it’ll level up. Dashing takes up too much stamina? Just run around EVERYWHERE for a few hours and see how that works. Need an edge with your profession? Make (or buy) a better tool!
Speaking of, crafting and gathering materials isn’t the boring grind we see in MMOs, in which you need to stand still or send an NPC to do it on a timer. Instead, you play a minigame. For gathering materials, you simply swing your tool to hit the object; if you time your hits, created combos, or hit the sweet spot, you can dish out more damage and possibly get more materials.
Crafting gives you three stations to work with, and each one has a button press involved, whether it’s mashing, timing, or holding. You move between the stations as ordered (randomly), and as long as you complete it within the time limit, you get the item. Do it fast, possibly get more of the item. Do it amazingly, and you might get a high quality item (or multiples, at that). Of course, each of these also nets you XP.
Now, for those who may find this boring, you can, after you make an item enough times, get the options of Multiple and Auto, which allows you to create multiple items at once or automatically make the item, respectively. This reduces the amount of time you take to craft things, but it doesn’t give you as much XP, and if you choose the Auto route, you can’t make superior items, so you have to keep that into consideration.
Another thing I love is how leveling up is handled. You have your basic level, which is general XP you earn from doing things, like crafting. As you gain levels, you gain points to spend on stats (which can be changed late in the game). You also gain Bliss by doing things in the game, like collecting so much money, completing so many quests, playing for so long, etc. Bliss levels are spent on giving you other perks, like riding horses, new items in shops, having a pet, or, what I’ve done, maximizing your item storage space.
Your Life, on the other hand, has a number of challenges that you unlock by gaining ranks or by talking to an NPC. Some NPCs have a task that only a member of a certain life can complete and, should you complete it, you’ve completed a “challenge” and earned stars. Stars as basically the XP of your Life, and once you gain enough, you can report to your Master and gain a new rank. Each rank gives you perks, like a stat boost while using that Life (at least, I think it’s just that Life; haven’t looked at it otherwise!) and new abilities, like recipes or new combat techniques.
Finally, your skills can level up. The higher the level, the less stamina it takes to use, but in order to level it up, you have to use it. I’ve been running around town as long as my stamina will last, and my Dash skill just reached level 4. It’s a slow process, but I can already see a difference!
One of the reasons why I snagged this was the online element. It is possible to create a party of up to three people and go explore Reveria together. Always fun, and again, reminiscent of Secret of Mana for me.
I really don’t have a specifically bad thing to say about this. The script is amusing, but it feels a bit forced at times. The music is catchy, but feels a bit clunky as it will change from screen to screen sometimes. The artwork, while cute, isn’t anything spectacular to write home about.
There’s also a bit of DLC for the game, but at $8, my friends who have beaten the game wonder if it was worth it. It unlocks a new level for each Life and a new zone, but no one has been really impressed. It also limits your online multiplayer to only those who have the DLC, supposedly, which really puts a damper on who I can game with.
As much as I like the level-up mechanic, there’s just some inconveniences with each. For example, with crafting, each specific craft has a general skills (like “Cooking”), but then it has specifics (Seafood, Vegetable, and Meat, for example). Also, in order to raise your rank, you need to be of that Life in order to report to your Master, meaning a visit to the Guild Hall, needing to re-equip your gear if you plan on doing anything, and then off to your Master (which they give a teleport for, which is nice). The most inconvenient part is the number of menus to go through to see the challenges of the Life. You automatically can see your Life Challenges by pressing the Quest button, but you need to go under Licenses, choose the Life, then press X a few times to bring it up. Not entirely convenient.
I don’t have enough time to give this a pass/fail, but so far I find it to be a wonderful way to pass a few minutes here and there. I don’t know how it’ll be once I leave Castele, but if the rest of the game stays reasonably witty as this first part has, and the challenges steadily progress, I can easily see it being well worth the money I spent on it.
That said, if you know someone that has it, you like having something to do all the time, and you enjoy timing minigames, this game is for you! Otherwise, if you like an in-depth, serious story and straightforward mechanics, you may want to go elsewhere.
I might do another round of notes later, but there are more important things to talk about, so stay tuned!