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Fairy Tail Review (PS4) :: Nostalgia That Could Use A Bit of Polish

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To this very day, Fairy Tail remains one of the most beloved serialized-manga franchises alongside its anime adaptation running over a decade. I still remember the early 2010 days when it was aired for the first time on Animax-Asia. Episodes premiered in accordance with Japanese timeslots- airing at an inconvenient slot of 2 to 3 AM on Sundays. Despite the severe odds of my parents catching me in the act, I would sneak in for the premiere, grabbing a handful of midnight snacks. 

Fairy Tail fans have been waiting for ages to get an RPG game adaptation as Hiro Mashima, the creator of Fairy Tail originally wanted the title to be an RPG. This vision of Fairy Tail conceptualized as an RPG has finally been realized by the developer Gust – best known for their work on the Atelier series. The question is: How well does it compare against the long queue of disappointing anime-based videogames? Is the game recommendable to newcomers who have no idea about the source material? Let’s take a look.

Story & Narrative

The game follows the story of the Tenrou Island arcGrand Magic Games arcTartaros arc, and the Avatar arc of Fairy Tail. The prologue starts with a standoff between Hades and the Fairy Tail guild. Fairy Tail barely manages to defeat Hades and flees Tenrou Island for their guild hideout in Magnolia, Fiore. Every guild in the world of Fairy Tail consists of Celestial Mages and Wizards who undertake jobs from locals as a business venture. It’s been almost 7 years since the guild left for Tenrou Island and now they are the lowest-ranked guild in Fiore. This pretty much sums up the first arc which is the prologue itself.

The guild is attacked and decides to flee Tenrou Island

“The entire plot covers the four major arcs of the long-running series.”

From Chapter 1 onward, you take on jobs and start upgrading your guild, gradually improving its rank as well. In the early chapters, the team roster is mostly locked to Lucy and Natsu. Besides the main quests, there are character stories and side-stories that bridge the gaps in the narrative. The narrative gets even better by the start of the Grand Magic Games arc. From a newcomer’s perspective, there’s enough material to familiarize you with the story. Thanks to the snappy cutscenes aided by the original cast, there’s no sloppiness when it comes to this department. The cutscenes remain similar to those of the anime, so playing the whole game is comparable to watching half of what the anime has to offer.

The game also allows you to play as Gajeel along with Wendy and Juvia

The major strength of Fairy Tail is in its attention to character development. The prime focus of the narrative remains on Team Natsu, which consists of Natsu Dragneel, Lucy Hearfilia, and the adorable blue cat ‘Happy’. They are frequently joined by Erza Scarlet and Gray Fullbuster on their quests. Every character in Fairy Tail looks flashy and has a lot of depth, thanks to their well-executed backstories.

“Natsu, Lucy and Happy alongside Erza and Grey remain the highlight of the saga”

Speaking of characters, Lucy takes exceptional pride in her appearance and is very confident in her sex appeal, often exuding a certain amount of vanity. Despite her superficial attitude, she is a clever, kind, and genuinely caring person. Natsu, on the other hand, is carefree and reckless. Despite his consistent brawls with other members, he’s fiercely loyal and protective of them. Happy, who serves as Natsu’s partner-in-crime brings in the much-needed light-hearted humor through his comedic one-liners. Despite their differences, the three genuinely have affection for each other – having each other’s backs even in the moments of tedium. Hands down, this trio alone is amazing, and there are a lot of other interesting characters like Makarov, Zeref, and Jellal out of the 30 or so characters featured in the series.

The overall campaign takes around 20-25 hours to beat and is a faithful recreation of its source material. There are enough action sequences with comedic instances in-between to keep you hooked. At times, totally out of the blue, the girls change into their bikinis for no reason. For Indian households, it is recommended that you play in seclusion, you never know what’s gonna hit you next. If you’re a newcomer, it may be hit-or-miss for you as there’s a lot to take in, but if you’re someone even remotely interested in the anime, you will not be disappointed.

Gameplay & Mechanics

“Gameplay lacks fluidity due to poor performance optimization”

As per anime game standards, Fairy Tail has its fair share of issues when it comes to gameplay. The worst of the lot is the lack of proper optimization that hinders the fluidity of the gameplay. Despite this issue, I did stick with it just for the sake of following the plot.

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Four moves, yet three of them are barely used

The highlight of Fairy Tail‘s gameplay is its turn-based combat and its PV2 battles. The combat system features a grid layout where players can switch the position of the players. There are 4 moves- Attack, Defend, Magic, and Item. Attack deals very low damage and remains so insignificant that I barely used it. Defend increases your defenses but again, it didn’t prove to be effective either. Magic deals damage to enemies, heals allies, and lowers or strengthens defenses- it is the only move that you truly need. However, you do need a certain amount of MP (Magic Points) to execute a particular move. The greater the damage and range of the magic attack, the more MP it requires. These moves can also inflict passive statuses on the enemy like burn, freeze, and stun. Using items helps in keeping the Health and Magic levels in check.

Magic with higher range and damage consume more MP

“Fairy Tail’s combat system is seemingly under-utilized as it heavily relies on just Magic. “

PV2 battles take place between individuals. The Grand Magic Games Arc consists of numerous PV2 battles where you get to play as different guild members of Fairy Tail. These battles tend to be a bit more challenging as they feature stronger contenders. To make matters easy, your fellow members do cheer for you, boosting your health, attack, and defenses significantly, and you can also use magical chain abilities if the characters have the required bond levels. Ranking up characters also helps as it unlocks new abilities and bolsters the old ones.

Erza takes on a hundred enemies yet stands victorious

I really liked the numerous character customization options that the game offers. As you progress through the campaign, you add more players to your roster and unlock new skins. Speaking of skins, they can be swapped at any time, for any character using Lucy’s room. Besides costumes, there are slots for every character to equip Lacrima and Amulets that significantly bolsters the character’s stats.

More customization options open up as you rank up your characters

“Kill Monsters and Eat Candies.”

The quests mostly involve killing monsters, defeating rival guilds, and finding things in exchange for candies and stuff. The main and character quests are pretty fun to do, but the general job offers that you undertake are extremely boring. Thankfully, they’re optional. Depending on the level of difficulty, job offers are graded on a scale of D to S. Guilds with a rank of more than 100 are restricted to D grade job offers. A rank of 100 or lesser can take on C-grade offers, 50 or lesser for B-grade, and so on.

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Cityscapes are more fun to explore

As you take on more quests and character stories, new regions will pop up on the world map. I particularly liked the Crocus (Capital of Fiore) and Magnolia regions due to their cityscapes that tend to look a lot better than the wilderness featured in ‘The Plains‘ and Akane Beach. Exploring these worlds feels like an open book, you can pretty much find anything you need by hunting monsters and defeating other guilds. Valuable items are often hidden by obstructions that can be removed by doing enough damage by engaging in nearby battles. Frequently encountering enemies can feel a bit jarring while exploring, but they often reward you with experience points and upgrade materials.


Visuals, Performance & Sound

“Visuals fall behind when it comes to anti-aliasing and texture-quality “

Those textures certainly aren’t pretty.

In terms of visual fidelity, Fairy Tail really falls behind. As of its current state, it looks like a game from the PlayStation 3 era. There is a lot of aliasing at the edges and it feels like the game is running with an internal resolution of 720p. Besides these, the texture model presets that have been used for the PS4 appear to be too low in detail. Visuals do tend to get a lot better during the cutscenes but those are pre-rendered. These issues need to be addressed in the day 1 patch itself.

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City textures look better than the ones featured in the wilds.

“Despite its not-so-taxing visuals, Fairy Tail struggles to maintain a stable framerate”

Besides its visuals, the performance needs to be refined as well. Despite its not-so-taxing visuals, the game struggles to maintain a consistent framerate. Performance during the cutscenes is snappy and pretty much most of it runs at a smooth 60 fps. But unlike the cutscenes, the performance gets a lot worse during the gameplay. During exploration, the variable fps fluctuates between 20-60 depending on the environment. It’s especially bad during the battle action-sequences, dropping to an eye-watering 20 fps.

The music featured in the game seems to be heavily inspired by the anime, so no complaints there. Besides the background score, the game also features voice-acting by the original Fairy Tail. I particularly liked the adorable voice-acting of Happy which lightens the mood even in moments of tedium.


fairy tail

Fairy Tail‘s narrative alone is enough for you to glide through its campaign- thanks to the seamless cutscenes and character stories that are fun for the most part. It never fails to deliver comedic instances even in moments of tedium.  Fans of the series can pick this one up for the story alone.

With improved visuals and a refined performance on the PS4, Fairy Tail has the potential to be on par with CyberConnect 2’s Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Koei Temco and Gust have announced that they will be adding a photo mode via a free update on August 6. The dev team has also announced that they will be addressing some of the issues we mentioned via a day 1 patch.

Disclaimer: Review code provided by the publisher with no riders.

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