The launch of Fantasian actually snuck up on us. After getting introduced again in 2019, it flew underneath the radar till proper round New Yr’s when developer Mistwalker confirmed the JRPG would launch this 12 months. Then, out of the blue, it dropped final week alongside a slew of recent titles for Apple Arcade.
For many individuals, this was the primary time they learn the phrases “Apple Arcade” in months because the subscription service has kind of dropped out of the highlight since its high-profile launch. I do not know if that can change with these new titles, but when there may be any recreation that can get folks being attentive to it once more, it is in all probability this beautiful RPG from the daddy of Ultimate Fantasy.
Launched: April 2, 2021
MSRP: A part of Apple Arcade ($4.99 a month)
For those who’ve been being attentive to Fantasian at all around the previous few weeks, it’s in all probability as a result of Mistwalker has been dropping completely attractive screenshots of the title within the lead-up to its launch. Dubbed a “Diorama Journey RPG,” it makes use of greater than 150 handmade dioramas to create most of its world. And let me simply get this out of the best way proper now: this recreation is beautiful. These units and places are brilliantly designed with Mistwalker using a number of mannequin retailers to deliver the sport to life. There may be a lot element in every area, and it’s a bit mind-boggling to see how intricate of a world its artists may create on such a small scale.
Not all the pieces in Fantasian has been handcrafted and scanned into the sport. The overworld map is a conventional 3D map, and all the characters, NPCs, and monsters that you just encounter are 3D fashions. And whereas they don’t precisely appear to be they belong on this diorama world, they don’t actually look misplaced both. The visible disconnect between the places and the character designs wilted away shortly as I opened up extra of this enchanting place and engaged in its magnificent fight system.
Whereas it’s a pretty normal turn-based RPG, Fantasian’s fight has two parts that craft an id of its personal. While you interact with monsters, they’re scattered on the diorama battlefield moderately than standing in straight traces or teams. It is because each character within the recreation has assaults that may goal both single or a number of enemies relying on the place they’re positioned. So a primary melee assault will hit only one creature, however in the event you use a talent or magic, you possibly can goal a number of opponents.
Some skills will ensnare foes in the event that they’re inside the assault radius, whereas others permit you to strike any creature you possibly can line your shot up with. Magic assaults will be curved, so when you have some large oaf proper up entrance with a defend down stopping any shot you ship its manner, you possibly can bend your spell round them like James McAvoy in Wished. It’s a fairly genius and interesting system; one begins to shine once you unlock the flexibility to ship monsters to the Dimengeon.
In contrast to numerous its trendy contemporaries that put enemies instantly on the map, Fantasian makes use of random encounters. However moderately than bogging gamers down with the pitfalls historically related to such encounters, the sport provides you the flexibility to “gather” all the monsters you randomly encounter on their journey and struggle them in what is named a “Dimengeon Battle”. While you first acquire this capacity, you possibly can gather as much as 30 monsters earlier than you’re pressured to struggle them. Dimengeon Battles begin with a big group of enemies relying on what number of you’ve got collected, with every defeated foe getting changed by extra enemies till you’ve got exhausted all of the monsters you collected. Not solely does this making grinding for expertise a snap, as you normally see large quantities of XP when these battles are over, however as I stated above, they’re an important showcase for the battle system. When you might have giant teams of enemies standing towards you, it’s simple to line up assaults that strike a number of foes.
Dimengeon Battles additionally dot the battlefield with power-ups, like enhance assault power or steal a flip from the enemy, that may make these battles extra methodical. Not each encounter will be collected, although. Boss battles and a few particular enemies must be battled straight away, and there are some factors within the story the place the flexibility won’t be accessible. Nevertheless it’s there for many of your journey, and truthfully, after I first heard in regards to the mechanic, I used to be frightened it could damage the circulation of the sport, that I might simply rush via environments and battle all of the monsters directly on the finish. Nevertheless it doesn’t actually work that manner. In actual fact, it really works much better than I ever thought it could, and it’s going to be robust to return to JRPGs that do old style random encounters.
For as forward-thinking as its battle methods and artwork course are, the one facet of Fantasian that does really feel dated is its story. This can be a fairly run-of-the-mill story of a band of adventurers saving the world. You play as Leo, a thief who begins his journey within the machine realm on the run from robots making an attempt to kill him. Upon escaping again to the human realm, he joins up with the mysterious Kina and the 2 set off to unravel the mysteries of mechteria, a mechanical invasive species that’s slowly destroying their world.
There are a number of tropes of the style at play right here, together with an expensive ship you journey on, a coliseum you’re pressured to do battle in, stoic heroes who don’t need your assist however respect you anyway, and a protagonist struggling an assault of explosive amnesia. I may make do with all of that if the solid have been higher written. Leo isn’t precisely participating hero materials, and general, the script suffers from an incapacity to provide its characters distinct voices that match their diversified backgrounds. I’d by no means thought I’d lengthy for Dragon Quest’s horrible faux-Scottish dialog textual content, however right here we’re.
Regardless of the tropes and largely unimaginative dialog, Fantasian is buoyed by sturdy world-building, attention-grabbing backstories, and a real sense that your journey is constructing as much as one thing unimaginable. It took me about 18 hours to finish the story, and half one ends with just a few developments that I actually need to see play out when half two releases later this 12 months. I’m additionally wanting ahead to the promised open-ended second half as Fantasian’s first half is a largely linear ordeal.
For the file, I break up my time with Fantasian between my iPad and my MacBook Air and used all three management choices accessible. Whereas the visuals have been a bit higher on my MacBook with much less jaggy character fashions, I truly did not look after utilizing an ordinary controller with the sport. The motion between the completely different areas of every diorama is a bit off, sufficient that contact controls/mouse controls have been in the end the superior choice.
It doesn’t matter what machine I used to be taking part in on, I made positive to have my headphones plugged in as Nobuo Uematsu’s rating is sort of good, mixing parts from his time with the Ultimate Fantasy sequence with music that sounds as if it was impressed by John Williams. Which is smart, on condition that mechteria straight up seems like a Tie Fighter.
I’ve performed just a few of the RPGs accessible on Apple Arcade and I do not suppose a single one has come near matching Fantasian‘s imaginative and prescient and execution. This can be a great recreation with an impressive battle system that is dropped at life with what could possibly be the most effective artwork course of 2021.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game through an Apple Arcade subscription purchased by the reviewer.]
Fantasian Half 1 reviewed by CJ Andriessen
Spectacular effort with just a few noticeable issues holding it again. Will not astound everybody, however is price your time and money.
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