Video Game Fables: More Than the Sum of Its Parts
Come for the story and music, stay for the gameplay
Video Game Fables is an RPG, where the sharp-tongued princess is kidnapped, but rather than wait, she takes the matter into her own hands and escapes, with silly situations to follow.
This isn't a game you'd play just for the story, or just the music (which is quite nice), or the puzzle platforming, or the driving - yes, I'm still talking about an RPG game. This game's main strength is the gameplay mixture it offers.
Fun and Silly Story and Gameplay
Depending on who you ask, the most important aspect of an RPG is either the gameplay or the story. You have silly situations and characters, goofballs that don't want to be bothered, and goofballs that are willing to help.
The story is silly and lighthearted, something that makes playing pleasant, but not what I consider enough of a hook by itself. Although, even as I say this, I must admit that the story actually made me emotional at one point.
For the gameplay, you get basic and skill attacks, and an assortment of debuffs at your disposal. The twist is that, instead of having a mana system, normal attacks can net you a CRIT badge, which enhances the effects of your moves and allows you to use attack skills.
Besides selecting the attacks, you have to worry about their cast and recovery time. The game has a timeline that shows when characters are going to move next, so you can use this information to delay certain moves as necessary.
The game offers lots of options when it comes to skills: vampiric effects, damage over time, de/buffing strength or defense, and even cast speed. Sleep conditions, stealing CRITs, or some good ol' damaging moves are also part of your options.
When you kill monsters, you can use their parts to create skills for your characters to equip. Synergizing your party so that you make effective use of your available skill slots can be pretty fun, and is necessary to fight some bosses effectively.
The graphics remind me of the early 90s pre-rendered graphics; I'm not saying this to put down the game, I actually like it. I also consider this to be one of those games that looks better in motion.
Unexpected Twists and Mechanics
So we have a competent battle system and a charming little story. Yet the game didn't fully grab me until the gameplay twists arrived; they say variety is the spice of life, and it's certainly true here. As I played, I wondered what the game would throw at me next.
The new, and often short-lived, mechanics introduced in the game happen both inside and outside of battle, the latter being the ones I found the most interesting. The multitasking required for some of the fights made them feel quite frantic and engaging.
Introducing new mechanics can have a detrimental effect and bog down the pacing, or make the game annoying to play, but their implementations work here. Part of the reason is that they won't take you away for long from the main game and they offer moderate challenges. Adding a mechanic that is divorced from the rest of the game could end up frustrating players if it's too difficult.
The one stain is that - as of August 28th - there's a small but noticeable input latency when using a keyboard that would actually hinder a few portions of the game, so I recommend using a gamepad if you have one available. Hopefully, the game will be patched to fix this.
You wouldn't get an RPG for puzzle platforming, first-person shooting, or driving (maybe you did buy Final Fantasy XV for that car; I'm not judging), but these small variations throughout the game help make it a lot more interesting, elevating it to something special.
And these twists go hand in hand with the tone of the story, which starts with a cliché "princess gets kidnapped by a villain," but quickly changes into something else.
I think anyone who enjoys RPGs and isn't allergic to lighthearted stories could enjoy some time with this charming little game.
The changes throughout the game will keep the gameplay fresher; I found myself having more and more fun over time. I actually wanted it to be a little longer, if only to have more surprises thrown at me.
Thankfully, Video Game Fables has a free-to-download demo on Steam whose progress carries over to the main game, so you can try the game out for yourself and see if it's for you.
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