GAMES - Review
08:55 - 30th September 2014, by Michael Dodson

Fantasy Life

If you remember our coverage of Animal Crossing New Leaf last year, you’ll know that we’re big fans of life sims here at NEO. However, for some gamers, the genre’s usual lack of an overall goal or plot may be a bit of a turn off - and that’s where Fantasy Life comes to the rescue. Created by Professor Layton developers Level-5, Fantasy Life is part life sim, part traditional RPG, and although it’s fair to say that it doesn’t completely excel at either genre, it certainly offers a number of interesting innovations.

Chief among these is the titular Life system. At the start of the game, having chosen your character’s appearance from a wide range of customisation options, you must decide upon a particular career path. In addition to the usual RPG fare - paladin, hunter, magician and so on - you can also choose to take on such roles as a woodcutter, a blacksmith, or even a cook. Need to get hold of some HP potion before heading off into battle? You could buy a bottle with some of your hard earned money (or Dosh, which the currency is amusingly known as in game), but if you’ve chosen to become an alchemist, why not head into the world to find the ingredients yourself, then brew up your own batch? Fancy a new set of clothes? Train to become a tailor then make your own! Fortunately, you are not stuck with the same Life for the duration of the game, and getting hold of the licence needed to become something different is relatively quick and easy. It’s a shame, though, that in some cases, actually doing your job just boils down to a short, simple minigame that can soon get monotonous.

Nevertheless, with a total of twelve vocations to choose from, Fantasy Life offers a wealth of things to keep you busy right from the start, and you may find yourself sinking hours into exploring all the options and going on quests for the colourful land of Reveria’s numerous residents. Various aspects of your character can be levelled up as you play, which will come in useful as you crack on with the story and head off into the wild investigate the mysterious Doom Stones that have started falling from the sky and turned much of the local wildlife hostile. Combat is fairly basic - mostly just a case of finding an enemy, mashing an attack button and dodging every now and then - but the fact that it all happens in real time is welcome, and keeps the pace going nicely. Carrying out requests from your lively butterfly companion Flutter will also earn you Bliss points, which can be used to earn upgrades such as a wider selection of items in the town’s shops, or even get a pet cat for your fully customisable home.

Another nice option in Fantasy Life is the ability to team up with a friend via online multiplayer to go adventuring together, and the option of additional areas and quests available via DLC mean that even when the story is finished, there’s still a huge amount to do.
With the likes of Super Smash Bros and the new Pokémon games just around the corner and sure to be taking up a lot of 3DS owners’ time in the near future, it’s a shame that a game needing such an investment as Fantasy Life wasn’t released a little earlier in the year. However, like any good life sim, this is a title that, if you get sucked into its charming fantasy world and varied Life system, it’ll be easy to come back to in short bursts over and over again.

An ambitious and innovative take on two popular genres with a massive amount of content to sink your teeth into, even if some of the gameplay itself is rather simple.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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