If you've played developer Compile Heart's previous games before, the name of their latest release may sound familiar, and you may even think it's a sequel to the PS3 original released back in 2014. Instead Compile Heart used the new console generation to return to the original game and bring it to the PS4, along with attempting to address some of the original's flaws in addition to adding more story paths, battles and endings for returning players.
After an introduction cutscene telling the events of a great war between two deities, you get introduced to the main character Fang, an apathetic young man who really only cares about getting a good meal to eat and somewhere to sleep. He ends up in a town which just so happens to have a mysterious sword stuck in a rock which is rumored to grant one's wish if they can successfully pull it out. And of course, this being a JRPG, Fang just so happens to pull it out.
Instead of an immediate wish, he comes face-to-face with the Fairy inside the sword, Eryn, who tells him he's destined to become a "Fencer" and needs to collect the other 100 or so "Furies" (the sword he pulled out) to awaken a sleeping goddess who's been trapped in a deep slumber alongside an also-sleeping evil god which fell asleep after a great battle took place between the two.
It's not an amazing story by any means, but the developers did do a good job with fleshing out each of the characters. Fang is often used wisely for comedic effect, while the female characters do play to overused tropes occasionally, but smartly circumvent them in other aspects, unlike Hyperdimension Neptunia and especially Mugen Souls which tended to play those tropes straight. The second half of the game is when the story really kicks into gear, but sadly you have to go through the "monster of the week"-style sequences until that point.
Where Advent Dark Force differs from the original is around the halfway point. In the original, you had to decide whether to resurrect the Goddess, the evil Vile God, or neither. The issue was that if you picked the Vile God route there wasn't any reward as it didn't alter the narrative, but that's changed entirely in the updated PS4 version as it provides a completely different take on the story if you choose to do so. This change also allowed the developers to allow characters who didn't necessarily get to shine properly in the original to get their fair shake this time around, which is welcome.
We already went into great detail regarding the battle mechanics in our PS3 review, so we'll only be mentioning the new additions in Advent Dark Force. The major shake-up comes with six party members being usable on the field instead of the PS3 version's limit of three, although the battle map size and enemy count are modified to compensate for this alteration. Due to this the developers also gives you some additional characters depending on what route you take that weren't in the original, including some of the villains you previously fought against which was a neat treat for returning players.
Unfortunately, some of the issues I noted in my review of the PS3 original still stand in the PS4 version. While not as bad as some of their other games, there's still a decent amount of tutorials that could have been condensed or made optional as they really weren't necessary to be made mandatory.
The graphics are slightly improved and there's slightly less issues with the engine overall, but you can't help shake the feeling like you're playing a straight-up PS3 port of a PS4 game in the graphics department instead of a game that was fixed up graphically to feel more at home on the platform.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is easily the definitive version of the game over the original PS3 release, with the new story and character updates among other modifications to the game. If you didn't pick up the original for whatever reason and were interested in the game, by all means pick up this version. And if you're a fan of the original, the new content is enough to warrant a re-purchase. But for those who disliked the exceptionally long tutorials and the other niggling issues present in the original, it's still very much the same core game underneath.
|Choosing between the different gods, or neither, now have actual consequences this around.|
|Characters who didn't get to shine as much in the original are showcased much better in the new story paths.|
|More characters allowed in battle, with the battles adjusted to compensate.|
|Graphics and engine still feel somewhat PS3-ish, not a whole lot was done to make the game feel like a true PS4 game.|
|The overload of tutorials is still present.|
|If you strongly disliked the original, there isn't much here to change your mind.|