Fairune is a 2D puzzle adventure game with some RPG elements available on the Nintendo 3DS eshop. There’s hardly much of a story and it will give you the brief overview of it right when you start. Basically, there’s some evil creature that you need to destroy. So you need to find three magical icons to unlock the creature’s lair an take it out. Pretty simple, and the game itself kind of just hints at the story being meaningless too, so it’s not just me.
The gameplay mainly consists of two things. Early on you’ll able to feely explore a bit without needing to worry about monsters until you quickly come across a sword. At this point the real game begins. You’ll notice that combat here requires walking directly into enemies. If the enemies are weak enough, or if you’re strong enough, they’ll die and give you experience, but they’ll also hurt you. You can check the codex in your inventory to see what the recommended monster to fight is at your level. Killing enough of that enemy will give you experience faster than they can drain your health, which is fully restored upon leveling up. You can then see what your next suggested foe is in order to level up more and to give you a general idea of where to go next, as typically they can only be found in the next area you should logically go. If you attack enemies that are too weak then you’ll kill them without suffering damage but will receive no experience either. Sometimes you’ll find enemies that are a bit stronger than the suggested one. These ones will still die at your touch and grant you experience, but the rate of experience to damage taken will result in your death before leveling up. You can heal by finding magical shining grass patches, though. Sometimes enemies will be far too strong, typically indicating that you’re not meant to go that way yet. In this case, you’ll simply bounce off of them when you touch them and take a large chunk of damage. Best come back later. If you DO happen to die, you won’t really lose your progress. You can save anytime, of course, but if you die you’ll be sent to a grave. You’ll simply walk out of the grave and need to retrace your steps to get back to where you were.
The other part of the gameplay is the puzzle solving adventure. You walk around on a grid exploring overworlds and underworlds. The maps of the game can wrap around for a continuous feeling. When you’re not fending off creatures for experience points, you’re generally looking for items and places to use them. You’ll need to look closely at the designs of the world to find secrets and suspicious spots, which isn’t too hard to notice in the simplified, 8-bit style of the art. It’s largely about paying attention to the terrain to find secrets, get items, and figure out where and how to use items in order to progress. This means you’ll often need to backtrack as well in order to interact with something suspicious that you couldn’t do anything with before.
That’s pretty much all there is to the game. I like the puzzle bits a lot. It’s fun to explore the pretty, 8-bit world for secrets and solve logic puzzles. The music is alright too. It’s easy enough to control and the simplicity makes it easy to get into yet still rewarding to figure out. Plus, it’s a rather cheap game. So it certainly has things going for it. It won’t be a huge time suck, and it has a nice pick-up-and-play feel that’s great for playing on the go. So most of it is good.
I think maybe the combat and RPG elements could’ve had more depth or just been ignored entirely. I would’ve preferred either choice to this limited state of the mechanics. It just seems like it’s more there for the atmosphere than anything else, and you can’t skip it or else enemies will consistently get in your way AND certain parts of the game require you to kill enemies to progress. I also found some of the secrets to be a tad obtuse. Some were just frustrating because I missed some subtle visual cues. However, there were a few that were very difficult to logically assume. In face, a few times you’re expected to flat out walk through walls without visual indication. I think that’s pretty bullshit because it relies on random guessing out of desperation more than it does on thinking or paying attention. But the biggest annoyance in the game is the final boss. Up until the final boss you’ve only been exploring, solving puzzles, and walking into enemies to kill them. That’s the gameplay. And then you get to the final boss and all of the sudden it turns into a vertical scrolling shooter. Nothing in the game prepares you for it. It isn’t super hard or all that bad on its own, but it just does not fit with the rest of the game at all. It’s really disappointing to see everything lead up to that. There are some puzzles afterward, but it really seems like the final boss should require some puzzle elements to defeat rather than twitch skills that have not been tested at all the entire time.
So… if Fairune worth it? Honestly, not really. It’s pretty cheap and the main game stuff is enjoyable enough, but it’s a bit grindy and only really is only fun for solving those puzzles and finding secrets. Maybe grab it on sale for a dollar, but it’s not really worth the full three bucks, as petty as that sounds. You could get some better stuff on the eshop for that. I found out later that it’s free on iOS and Android so you might as well just get it there instead because that’ll work for the main gameplay just fine. I guess not everything I get on the DS can be a winner, but if you still want it on your 3DS then at least it’s not going to burn a hole in your wallet just to check it out. Maybe they’ll fix my gripes with the sequel. Let’s hope.