Fairytale Fights: review

  • Format: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Playlogic Entertainment
  • Developer: Playlogic Game Factory
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site: http://www.fairytalefights.com/

Fairytale Fights kicks off by introducing you to its rather unique premise. Set in the days of yore, you’ll take control of one of four characters from classic children’s fiction, each of whom have been ousted from their tale by an interloper. Rather miffed at their fame being snatched away from them, each of the four decides to go about regaining their status by carving a bloody path through other fairy tales. This is all introduced by an amusing cut-scene that brings to mind the Lego games, where they re-tell stories from Star Wars or Indiana Jones, with tongue firmly planted in cheek and sans voices. Except in the Fairytale Fights version there’s blood and quite a bit of it. So with the premise established it’s time to pick which hero you’d like to take control of, the choices being Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Jack (of Jack and the beanstalk fame) or the Naked Emperor (of new clothes infamy). The choice of hero is completely aesthetic, though the Naked Emperor seems to be included just so you can play through as a cutesy little naked man.

The comparison with the Lego games doesn’t quite stop at the cut-scenes. The game itself uses similar mechanics where you look down upon your hero as they battle through levels. Chests and enemies drop treasure which equates to your score and there are plenty of items and weapons to pick up. Unfortunately whilst the Lego series has charm, clever if simple puzzling and a very clear intended target audience (it’s one of –the– great children and parent co-op games), Fairytale Fights lacks all of these. The game may look a bit like a platformer at first glance, but most of the platforming is an incredibly simple case of jumping over a few obstacles or avoiding traps, serving only to break up the gameplay in between the fights. The fights are obviously the focus of the game (Re: the title) and form the basis of most of the gameplay. It’s somewhat sad then that this is the aspect of the game where the premise falls flat on its face. The idea of battling your way through the stories of classic fairy tales and exploring the lands contained within them deserves better than this.

Did we mention the game is bloody?

To engage enemies you use the right analogue stick to perform a basic attack in whichever direction you move it. You can link in combos by tapping the stick quickly and by holding it for several seconds you can build up for a power attack. This sounds fine in theory, but in practice what it amounts to is hammering the stick blindly towards your foes and hoping your character attacks the right one. Swapping and picking up weapons is just as fiddly, you can hold two weapons at once, and swap between them at the click of a button. But if you wish to pick up a new weapon you have to discard one by throwing it, then manoeuvre into exactly the right position so that a little icon appears. With ranged weapons, melee weapons and potions all vying for one of the coveted two slots, picking up weapons and switching between them becomes confusing and frustrating. The game at times is especially selective about where you have to stand to pick up a particular weapon, meaning trying to switch between weapons in the middle of a fight can be nigh on suicidal.

The fiddly and random nature of combat sadly isn’t the only criticism of the fighting mechanics, attention too has to be drawn to the animations of the game. While the graphics in general are quite pretty, with some lush environments, once engaged in combat the animations serve only to confuse the action. Essentially once you start up a combo, you’ll see your character┬áchange from one pose to the next with a jarring transition between them. This staccato style only serves to confuse an already random and jerky combat system and when your character is surrounded by enemies, they become lost in a blur of stop-start motion as they flit around unconvincingly. Because of this the hundreds of different weapons you can collect serve little purpose outside their star rating, which determines damage. Chances are that whichever weapon you’re using, you’ll barely notice the difference as you get caught in the cycle of hammering the right stick, followed by some sporadic blocking and then some more stick hammering. Both your thumb and your pad will come out of these encounters worse for wear.

Look this one's almost serene, no blood to be found at all!

As we mentioned earlier in the review, despite all these shortcomings in terms of the action, Fairytale Fights does have a great premise behind it. Fairytales are worlds of imagination and classic creepy storytelling – you’d be hard pressed not to smile at some of the places you’re sent to explore and some of the weirder characters within the game. But one problem that does crop up is that even if the game wasn’t sadly crippled by the controls and combat, who exactly would buy it? Because of the focus on blood and violence, that rules out children (you’d have to be a pretty twisted parent to buy your kid this), for the teen market it probably looks a bit too childish and cartoony (we’re operating on the assumption here that most teens prefer dark and moody to bright and cheerful).

Thus it’s pretty much impossible to recommend the game to anyone. Between the clunky imprecise controls, the muddled combat and the sheer repetitiveness of the game, a great premise has been lost and sucked down into a quagmire of mediocrity. When we first heard of Fairytale Fights we were hoping for a barnstorming merger of Dreamcast classic Powerstone with the characters and environments of the tales we’d hear in our youth. Instead we’ve got this. While it’s never fair to compare a game with our expectations, we can only describe Fairytale Fights as a disappointment.

5/10

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Written by Michael J

Michael is a self proclaimed PC gaming fanatic and is equally at home with all genres, bar platformers and puzzle games. Except Bejeweled, he's awesome at that. Seriously, he is totally like second on his Facebook Bejeweled leaderboard. And they said he'd never amount to anything...

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