Developer: Level 5
Genre: Fantasy Roleplaying Game
OFLC Rating: PG
Fantasy Life is a computer roleplaying game in one of the truest senses of the genre, as this game revolves around more than just combat. I first came across this game by way of a friendly staff recommendation at my local EB Games and was pleasantly surprised on my first session playing the game. If you think this game is for kids judging it by the art style and overall presentation, then you would be mistaken – Fantasy Life is game for both the young and young at heart. Make no mistake, this is a game that embraces Nintendo’s family-friendly party atmosphere. Whilst Fantasy Life uses a “Warm Fuzzy” anime art style and a likewise form of storytelling, this game is very much a traditional CRPG presented in realtime.
When you first play the game you’re presented with a simple character creation process – Here you choose from a selection of appearance options, name (a maximum of six characters – not much, I know) and your starting starting “Life”.
The “Life” system is explained as being a set of vocations, which work twofold in the sense that you have both roleplaying classes and careers. Like The Elder Scrolls (canon) series, you develop your skills as you use them. Like the original Diablo characters are able to utilise all known skills regardless of their current class. Here’s the Life system’s catch (if you will) – You may only have one Life active in which to advance at any given time. Advancing a Life will earn attribute bonuses (eg HP and SP cap raises, additional points to Strength, Dexterity, etc.), new skills and crafting recipes.
Each Life you experience for the first time, will grant you a “Life License” that shows your progress in that field. It is possible to obtain all the licenses available, in fact you are encouraged to try all of them – Having done so myself on a recent session, I would also suggest this. Being a roleplaying game I would recommend obtaining “Fledgling” status (completed optional tutorial quests or acquired licenses) in classes before spending any attribute points (from character level progressions) and find your playing style. By saving any attribute points from levelling up, you able to focus on your strengths (based on your play style) when you do go to spend them.
There are a total of twelve classes available on the Life system, these can be categorised as being either “Combat” (self-explanatory really) and “Utility” (non-combat crafting and gathering classes).
There four combat classes, one representing each of core roles in roleplaying (going by D&D Player’s Handbook) as it were – The Paladin is a soldier with sword and shield, they appear to specialise in holding battle lines having the ability to block as well as strike. The Mercenary is a classical “Defender” wielding a two-handed sword, they specialise in going toe to toe with their foes. The Hunter on the other hand is a classical ranged “Striker” armed with bow and arrow, with the focus on dealing damage to a single enemy. Finally, the Magician who is master / mistress of elemental forces (Earth, Water, Fire and Wind).
There are eight utility classes in total, they are – The Miner, gatherer of metal ores and precious stones. The Woodcutter, gatherer of wood. The Angler, a fisherman (do I need to explain?). The Blacksmith, craftsman of weapons, armour and tools. The Carpenter, wood craftsman of tools, weapons and furniture. The Tailor, craftsman of textiles and clothing. The Cook, (self-explanatory) a craftsman of cuisines. Finally the Alchemist (a practitioner of the science of Alchemy), a craftsman of potions, charms and explosives.
Depending on your experience with roleplaying games as to how you will be playing the game – A casual player will likely take advantage of all the licenses offered to find their strengths. Experienced roleplayers will likely acquire all non-combat licences, whilst focusing on a single combat license that would best suit their playing style (as you can only equip a single weapon set), whilst spending their attribute points accordingly. Whereas the hardcore players of this game may likely pursue licenses and spend attribute points in a way that would build their characters toward a specific style of play (in and out of combat).
Like any roleplaying game, there is no right or wrong way to play your characters – Just one piece of advice that applies to any RPG: Know your strengths and play to them!
As this is played on a 3DS (or 2DS) system, the game utilises both the main (upper) screen and the (lower) touchscreen. Normally your main screen will display all the action up top, whilst your touchscreen will display the map of the local area. The touchscreen allows players to access everything from their character sheet, inventory management, fast travel to the games online social features. Whilst in these menus on the main screen will display all relevant information, where the touchscreen will display the options available.
You play in the world of Reveria, home to the three main cities – Castele (the game’s starting location), Port Puerto and Al Magiik. The main story revolves around the Goddess of Life seeking champions to fight the apocalypse of impending doom. To say anything specific about the story could easy spoil it, as the Fantasy Life’s plots are quite easy for mature players to figure out. Fantasy Life does a reasonable job with a lighthearted epic narrative to set the overall tone of the game.
The game will progress each time you rest – The first two days will be spent learning how to play the game and familiarising yourself with your starting Life (you chose in the character creation). Additional licenses will allow players to opt out of the tutorial quest that allows one to become familiar with the class – However, you may miss out on earning bonus points toward that given career by doing so.
There are three progression systems outside of you core character development – Dosh, being the currency of the land and economic progression. Bliss, points earned from performing both story centric and side quests which can be used to acquire perks. Stars, are ranking points for a specific class and are awarded by completing class centric challenges.
When playing the story and tutorials, you will find this game to be dialogue heavy and will hold your hand to some extent – But that’s not to say none of it is any good. Whilst your character is the classical silent protagonist, the conversations you see can be quite comical and some of it bordering slightly on the mature side of things. Although, it’s no more than what you would find in say Shrek, Finding Nemo or any other good family animated film of today. Whilst the story’s plots may be easy to pick up on, the story itself is quite enjoyable. The tutorials themselves are light stories into the key characters surrounding those classes and can be quite amusing to play through. When given the freedom to explore, the game practically allows you just that – Whether you’re fighting monsters, completing side quests or working a trade.
Fantasy Life is the kind of game that will be engaging to the point where players can sink a good number of hours into and many more when hooking up with others on cooperative sessions.
Now is Fantasy Life worth it?
If you consider yourself a diserning CRPG enthusiast. Both the game and its expansion is well worth it.
If you’re looking for a reason to invest in a 3DS. Expect to be getting a good deal of usage out it with this game alone!