There's something about games that take a unique twist on an old story or fable that are inherently interesting to me. Looking back, American McGee's Alice still holds a special place in my gaming library as being wickedly unique and awesome. In the meantime, there have been a handful of other releases in that niche genre. Fairytale Fights from Playlogic is one such game. This hack and slash, blood-filled title gives players control over several well known fairytale characters including Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Naked Emperor. Will the over the top violence outweigh the substance of game? Is this one you should watch for this busy Holiday? Let's take a closer look at Fairytale Fights.
Battling Through Fairytale Kingdom
Fairytale Fights begins with a somewhat confusing cutscene that attempts to set the premise. Without any dialogue, it's a little hard to follow, but the point is that four of Fairytale Kingdom's biggest names are being forgotten. The storyline can be kind of hard to follow too, maybe because I'm not all that familiar with some of these fairytales. That said, players begin their quest with Red Riding Hood and must navigate the treacherous forest that is filled with lumberjacks eager to slice you apart. Many traps, a neat boss fight with a huge beaver, and even the wooden puppet Pinocchio stand in your way.
It becomes pretty clear in a hurry that the real point of this title is the hack and slash action. The story, while kind of interesting, isn't told very well, mainly due to a lack of dialogue. I found myself just going through the motions more so than really knowing where I was going or what I was after. The gameplay keeps you on track with its linear, repetitive level design and constant flow of enemies, so at least you won't get lost or stuck. In addition to the hack and slash, there are some platforming and switch hitting elements, but the violence takes center stage.
While each character can fight without a weapon, you should definitely take advantage of the massive amount of weapons available. The back of the box says there are over 140 weapons, and I'm inclined to believe it. You'll find all sorts of daggers, swords, knives, hammers, and cartoon-ish guns, and many bizarre weapons like a swordfish and pencil. You'll also find various potions, too. Potions behave like grenades with a variety of effects. A certain type of pink potion can be used to fill up your health gauge, or thrown at enemies to temporarily slow them down. Other potions contain acid or other dangerous chemicals.
Enemies attack in waves for maximum violence, and many times you'll find yourself temporarily trapped in an area until all enemies are cleared out, like in Devil May Cry, for example. Enemies are dispatched by using the right stick to attack. That's a little unusual, and frankly I would have preferred a standard face button style fighting system. Players can charge attacks by pushing down on the stick for a few seconds and then whatever attack you do next will dish out more damage. The combat within Fairytale Fights is more about "button mashing" than anything -- only in this case you'll rotate and push the right stick to attack. It feels a little detached, but as there are no combos to earn and learn, it works well enough.
Players can jump with A, pick up weapons with LB, throw them with RB, and enter a special power up mode with
RT (if I recall correctly). This special mode pauses the on screen enemies and gives you unfettered access to slice them up. After taking out your first foe, you zip over to the next and the next, as long as your meter still has some juice to give. The meter is built up through killing off enemies. Players can also block with LT, but this doesn't work as consistently as I thought it would. The X button is used to interact with in-game switches and to read what this mysterious come-and-go-as-he-pleases guide has to say.
As you run around and hack and slash, fallen enemies often drop various coins and you'll find a lot of treasure chests along the way. Chests are busted open and reveal coins and weapons. The money is used to resurrect yourself from death, upgrade your statue in the game's hub area (Taleville), and also acts as a 'high score' element to go along with the heavy violence and bit of platforming. Upgrading your statue is more of a gimmick than a real game changer, so it's not all that important. Money is also used to purchase items at random purchase points found within a level. I thought the game did a good job of keeping funds available so that you will rarely need to restart a chapter if you play even decently well. That said, it's pretty easy to blow through a lot of your funds at certain spots in the game that involve traps or tricky platforming elements. The platforming involves timing jumps and what not, but it isn't as smooth as I expected. Several times I thought I surely jumped well enough to cover a gap but was surprised when my character fell to their death. It's hard to put a finger on, but it just seemed like the platforming aspect wasn't completely consistent throughout.
The campaign is made up of twenty-two missions and is broken up into four different areas of the Kingdom. In addition to the campaign, players can challenge their friends in an arena mode in which players battle it out in a small arena (think Smash Brothers but not nearly as good). This gets monotonous pretty quickly though. Local and online co-op play spice things up a bit, and make the overall experience more enjoyable than just grinding through the campaign yourself, but it can only do so much to hide the repetitive nature of the game.
Despite its basic level design and gameplay, Fairytale Fights manages to be pretty darn fun in spurts. This isn't a game you want to necessarily sit down and play for two or more hours straight. In chunks, like taking a couple or three chapters at a time (which should take 60-90 minutes), it's fun. I don't see myself replaying the campaign for better scores on the chapters or anything like that, but a once over isn't bad on this one if you can deal with its flaws.
As for the presentation, Fairytale Fights has a decidedly cartoony look to it. The colorful environments are often
splattered in glossy, bright red blood that frankly gets a little old after a while. I mean, let's face it, when one of
your primary selling points is the amount of blood that will spill (over 10,000 gallons according to the packaging), you have to be concerned about the value of the experience. The amount of blood and the pop-up close up views of you slicing through another character gets old around that fourth or fifth hour, too. I had some issues with the camera at times as well. On several occasions I found myself fighting blindly, even if just for a few seconds, because I was in a position that the camera didn't account for, or because one of those pop-up windows showed up. This is more of a lack of polish than a gamebreaker, but it's frustrating when it happens. As for audio, I think the story could have been told much better with more dialogue, either verbal or written. The effects and soundtrack are okay, a bit repetitive, but functional.
Let's get to the summary...