Starting with the good, then - Faery is clearly a labour of love. The team at Spiders have taken Grimm's fairy tales and turned them into a vibrant and varied world of fantasy adventure.
You take the role of a fairy, who has been charged with going out, making friends and then solving a variety of problems in some very disparate locations via magic mirror travel.
There's an island, a giant tree, a haunted boat and an Arabian wasteland. It all looks immaculate and straight out of the page of a Grimm adventure.
|Zappin' the trolls|
The game also has a short running time - it's easily bowled over in a weekend. For an RPG, that might sound like a criticism, but these 'packet sized' and low-priced RPGs on downloadable format (Costume Quest and Vandal Hearts are also very short games) are a definite boon to time-limited people - finally, RPGs you can actually finish!
Despite the brevity, there's actually quite a bit to do. Each region has multiple side-quests, there's all kinds of weird and wonderful characters you can recruit to your cause, and the variety in enemies is massive. One moment I was fighting pirate ghosts, the next a seagull (quite an onerous enemy for a fairy).
Unfortunately for all the variety, the combat itself isn't very exciting. Although all the companion characters have different abilities (a dragon breathes fire, a cranky old fairy summons a badger), you have no control over how those companions develop, and ultimately battles play out the same, regardless of which two allies are selected each time.
|Now THAT's a bunch of misfits|
The turn-based combat is also far, far too easy. In a bid to eliminate grind (which would add unnecessary padding to the game's run time), it's literally impossible to lose. There's an overabundance of recovery items if it looks like you're even coming close to dying, and only the bosses are capable of inflicting any real damage.
With a minimum of status effects to inflict (or be inflicted with), battles also lack strategy. It might be difficult to imagine, but Faery is a turn-based button masher.
Other problems with the game include the aforementioned side-quests. They're all the same breed of fetch quest - go here, collect item, give item to intermediary and then return to point A for reward. It's not too tiring because the levels are small, but it will push your patience to complete all of them.
|Some mirrors can't be accessed through the game. DLC?|
But the real problem with Faery is it's just not very engaging. For all the beauty the game throws up visually, the characters end up being dull and lifeless, and the dialogue is not worth following. In concept there's a relationship system, where your actions will affect how your companions respond to you, but it's poorly executed. In concept you're able to decide how to complete some objectives - aggressively or passively, but that just boils down to a choice between combat and fetch quest.
It's a pity that the game is difficult to recommend, because there is quality in vision in there. It's just wrapped around some poor design decisions that drag the game down as a game.