Tuesday, January 30

Review: Fantasy Hero ~unsigned legacy~ [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ever since the classic Secret of Mana I’ve been a big fan of the action RPG genre, and later games like Diablo and others really helped to continue to keep making it more engaging and diverse. While there have been some Zelda-like games on the Switch, overall alternative action RPG representation has been kind of thin. Enter Fantasy Hero ~unsigned legacy~, a port from the Vita trying to fill in the space and make a splash. Unfortunately, due to numerous struggles it is still not very easy to recommend.

In Fantasy Hero you’ll initially need to choose which of 4 classes you’re looking to play as. You can choose between two more traditionally melee-oriented fighters, one a swordsman and one a wrestler, a girl who controls a robot for some variety, or a straight-up gunslinger. The story you find yourself in, and it really takes a bit to going at first (though it is pretty basic), involves humanity having been somewhat run underground by a group called the Decoders (who oddly are all humanoid animals of various types) and your group of heroes trying to turn the tide. There are some additional elements of intrigue with a mysterious person fighting on the side of the Decoders, but in general terms there are bad guys and your group is looking to change their fates battle by battle.

What should be the selling point of the game is the action but honestly, for the most part, it is pretty bland. Sure, you can accumulate experience which you can then use to improve your stats and choose core skills but for the most part that’s fluff, your bread and butter in combat is still a very stick-and-move kind of style overall. This makes for good news and bad news. The good news is that once you get the hang of things you can quickly accumulate experience by taking on missions at maximum difficulty, giving you better experience and opportunities for gear. The bad news is if you do this and set yourself up properly after a while you can really just decimate almost anyone you face, just being careful to retreat and heal if you get a little low on health. Some classes have a worse time of this than others but overall I didn’t find myself worried about being subtle, I just tended to get into a combat groove and then work that through to victory. I’m not sure if the failing is my settling for sticking with what worked or the game for not making a case for changing things up but for the most part as long as you’re careful to attack and then time your dodging correctly, following up with yet more attacks, you can get the job done without much call for variety.

If the only issue was the game’s generally lackluster combat a case could be made that everything comes down to tastes but unfortunately the problems don’t really stop there. Inventory management is a weird pain as you want to collect a bunch of random crap here and there so you can upgrade your gear in a variety of ways. You end up needing to move those elements into storage while keeping items you can use with you, why you must manage this yourself I’m not sure. Upgrades are a trial and error endeavor for the most part, you’ll just stumble through some screens trying things and you’ll figure out how it all works. Not ideal. This is mostly because the menus, as a rule, are cumbersome and awkward. For some reason they don’t allow you to use the joystick and you need to use the buttons on the left instead. It works but it is just very odd. Worse, the menus are a bit of a sloppy mess with elements overlapping one another in some of the sub-menus in ways that make following what you’re supposed to be trying to do more of a challenge than it should be. Many missions are also run in the same general area, even using the same map. Just in a wide variety of ways this ends up feeling like a last-gen title, or older, and it hasn’t aged well.

All things considered it is pretty difficult to recommend Fantasy Hero to anyone outside of seriously die-hard action RPG fans who’ll simply take what they can get and work with it. The story is generic, the action is quite dull and repetitive as a rule, the interface is a mess, and from top to bottom it really doesn’t feel like a Switch game in terms of quality at all. Granted, if you latch onto one of the classes and don’t simply exploit the fact that you can use the same tactics through most of the game to succeed perhaps you’ll get more enjoyment out of it than I did, but I’d consider that requiring you to be quite determined. The game is certainly functional, it just fails to make much of a positive impression… making it challenging to recommend.

Score: 4.5

  • It’s general style is pretty unique within the current Switch line-up
  • Some classes play a bit better than others

  • Combat can generally be reduced to effective stick and move to succeed
  • A mostly-generic story
  • Last-gen (or earlier) look, feel, and function

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