We have a new entry into the long list of anime and manga that’s been adapted to a video game! Fairy Tail is that franchise, which originally spanned a series of manga volumes and anime series over its 2006-2017 life-span. Admittedly, it’s a franchise I know very little about. Still, getting to preview the game last year and even a recent partaking in a talk with the game’s producer, had me excited. Promising a fun JRPG forray, complete with Fire Emblem-esque relationship mechanics, I was itching for a fix. Now that it’s out, I can finally say: Fairy Tail is absolutely more for the fans. Newcomers maybe steer clear, hey?
Fairy Tail isn’t shy in thrusting you into its world immediately. You play members of the heroic guild of the same titular name. The game’s world is set in Earth Land, within the country of Fiore. Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Wendy and Erza are the main five of the guild, but the opening of the game comes with a catch. This famous guild returns to the city of Magnolia after being away for quite a number of years. Magnolia was once their home where they were lauded as heroes. Now, barely any of the locals think highly of the guild after all this time, let alone remember their name. It’s up to the crew (in your downtime between main missions) to restore faith and build up the team once more, spreading the word of the guild all across the land of Fiore.
Restoring the guild known as Fairy Tail is achieved in a number of ways throughout the game. Requests that come to you on a request board in your guild hangout is the best course of action. These requests are missions, that can be anything from “kill x number of enemy types,” to more character specific objectives. Character specific missions shine brighter of course; though, because it’s an anime game, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You could partake in a (poorly acted) play in the regal town of Crocus, where hilarity ensues. Maybe you’ll find some heart in playing the young Wendy, going around asking the younger guild members what love means to them. On the other hand, you’ll also be doing missions such as playing as a group of the female guild members, chasing down a panty raider. I wish I was kidding.
On top of this, two other big functions come into play in working on your guild: upgrades and building bonds. Upgrades can be made to parts of your guild hangout such as the alchemy bench or, in the later bigger guild hangout, the pool or bar. These upgrades are obtained from either foraging environments or defeating foes. Aside from passive boosts such as a larger max health, they don’t do too much besides add some aesthetics to your hubs. Still, it’s certainly rewarding to see tangible ways your guild is growing, rather than just their reputation.
As for building bonds, they work not too differently to the building of relationships you could obtain in games like last year’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Periodically, characters can check in with one another and engage in personal dialogue cut-scenes. For long time fans, it’s an opportunity to see characters interact that wouldn’t otherwise do so. There’s stuff there for newcomers too. Some of the interactions are the most charming parts you’ll see in the game. Definitely still expect some of the old, trusted iffy exchanges that come from anime, though.