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Released in 2019 in dematerialized form for PS4, Xbox One and PC, Light Fairytale (Episode 1) returns to us in 2022 with a beautiful PS4 physical edition (including booklet/manual and OST) via distributor Red Art. Games. The opportunity to offer you our impressions of the first episode of this JRPG with multiple inspirations from the 90s (the golden age of the genre).
Yes, it is quite strange to point out, Light Fairytale adopts an episodic format, a form that we find more often for narrative stories, even if recently Final Fantasy VII Remake took this same “episodic” path by being divided into three parts. . For its part, Light Fairytale is also planned in four episodes, two of which have already appeared, episode 1 in question today, and the second part is available from 2021 on Xbox, PC and PS4 in dematerialized form. But the adventure could never have seen the light without the motivation, work and passion of its author.
Designed by a single person, France-based studio neko.works, it first went through a participatory Kickstarter campaign in 2016 under the name Project Light (to become Light Fairytale). Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful due to lack of funds. But instead of canceling his project, the author, who has the ambition to create his own games, has somehow left this JRPG aside. This to make way for Super Night Riders, an arcade racing game released the same year (2016). The revenue from the latter was Light Fairytale’s main source of funding. Two years later (November 2018), the first episode of Light Fairytale appeared in Early Access on Steam before a final release in 2019. 2022 marks its return to the spotlight, both thanks to this physical PS4 edition and when it was released. threw more. recently (last April) on Nintendo Switch.
A dystopian universe and multiple references
The adventure begins in a dystopian world, the inhabitants live in a small underground city – Lower City. Governed by the orders of the Empire government, these villagers, dubbed scavengers, somehow survive by obeying the will and working hard for the Empire. In addition, this underground city is divided into several layers, that is to say that the more the inhabitants live towards the depths, the poorer and more helpless they are, this is how the echo of Final Fantasy VII and Midgar is felt. However, it hasn’t always been like this… A long time ago the world was prosperous, and science and technology were very advanced, to the point that humans lived in excess. But soon an unexpected phenomenon occurred, and this prosperous world was destroyed. Therefore, humanity survived by hiding for thousands of years, and this part of history was later forgotten…
Today, the young, naive, dreamy and lazy Haru dreams of a vast plain and a “blue roof”, something he has never seen: “the sky”. Accompanied by his childhood friend Kuroko, combative, tech-savvy and secretly in love with his friend, Haru decides to try to discover this famous blue sky by trying to reach the surface. But to do so, he will have to “escape” and rebel against the Empire…
A dystopian world, social class inequalities, an underground city with no access to real daylight, how not to think of Final Fantasy VII (we mentioned it before), the Tales of series (Arise, Vesperia,…), or even an episode whose inspiration we strongly feel Breath of Fire – Dragon Quarter – an underground world and a hero, who is ready to do anything to return to the surface of the world and save little Nina.
Looking at these mentioned games, we found that the characters have what it takes to become endearing over time (personality). It must be said that their interactions, sometimes optional, and therefore easy to lose or not, add more depth to their friendship based on jokes, fights, jealousy or even certain more adult allusions, quite present, to say the least. . Obviously we are only talking about this first episode and what it consists of. Let’s see if the sequel stays on this beautiful promise.
Note also that this first part of the adventure can be experienced initially from Haru’s point of view, then from Kuroko’s after you have beaten the game for the first time. The changes between the two heroes are not drastic, but slight, with the characters only slightly separating. This characteristic, already seen in other places, therefore has a certain potential, to be seen for the following episodes -which logically are not dealt with here, this test being based solely on this first part-.
With its inspirations from the 90’s, or even the aforementioned games, Light Fairytale’s gameplay will not disorient JRPG fans. There are interconnected areas, NPCs to chat with, interactions to retrieve consumables/items, or entirely optional sequences. There is also access to a minigame, the traditional equipment/magic system (via orbs), very little used in this first part, and of course confrontations against opponents.
These random battles can arise in two ways, either through predefined circular areas or progressing in a more classic way. In both cases, a transition to more traditional turn-based JRPG combat is taking place.
You can use items, perform a guard, use magic (in exchange for MP), attack with a main weapon, or even through special abilities unique to each character: protection for Haru, for example. With this data, it’s up to you to take advantage, exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, heal,… which, by the way, shouldn’t be too complex.
Last point of these confrontations, know that after having received enough hits, by filling a specific gauge, the two protagonists can use a “fury” technique, again new for each one. For a first draft it is easily accessible, and the balance in general is well balanced, a pity however that we do not take advantage of more panels of possibilities.
and classic graphics
Now let’s go to the technical/graphic part. Tested on PS5 via backwards compatibility, we didn’t encounter any particular issues. Visually, the software uses the Unity engine for its models, either for its Chibi characters, as we have already seen in other JRPG productions, as well as for some more industrial settings. The title also benefits from beautifully detailed illustrations and anime sequences.
Musically speaking, Terry Chandler’s songs adapt well to the situations experienced. Remember that this physical version of PS4 contains the BSO and its twelve titles in CD format. Finally, if the title doesn’t offer actual dubbing, the subtitles are available in Japanese, English, or French, with very light shells throughout the text.
Tested on PS5 via PS4 backwards compatibility
Inevitably, Light Fairytale’s episodic format is quite damaging to this type of experience, ie a JRPG that requires time before setting its context/plot and characters in place. Difficult therefore with a single episode to affirm or invalidate the final quality of the complete title. But for now, the first basics make us want to find out what can happen next, even if the shelf life shows little and leaves a feeling of scarcity. Therefore, we are waiting to see the sequel/finale with some curiosity, as this episode is full of promise to come.