From the first press release about the game I was pumped to get my hands on this twisted fairytale. Fairytale Fights takes all the preconceptions of my childhood and throws them into a blender to make quite the hemoglobin shake. Once I got into the game though I quickly discovered that my initial fears would quickly be realized as the game unfortunately relies on the shock value and visual aesthetic to get by. Boring combat and tedious missions really plague the experience and leave this game feeling more like a budget offering than a full-price title.
Fairytale Fights has you playing as one of four main characters from traditional lore, The Naked Emperor, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack of Beanstalk fame. The idea here is that each of these once classic characters has fallen off the map and their goal is to once again make a name for themselves. In order to do that they will travel through the land of Taleville and massacre anything and everything that gets in their way. The concept is solid and does cater to the older audience, but the gameplay and camera problems often cause more frustration than enjoyment. Playlogic has done a commendable job of producing an interesting backdrop, but failed in delivering an engaging gaming experience.
Before the game released the PR for the game had it labeled as several meshes of genres, but in the end it ends up being a straight-forward beat ’em up title. Now considering that these types of games are becoming more and more scarce, it was yet another bullet point that had me intrigued from the outset. Unfortunately things go awry once you start getting into the meat of the combat system.
Everything is performed using the right analog stick and response time and targeting are two of my biggest concerns. Once you begin fighting enemies with weapons and especially ranged weapons it becomes harder and harder to keep yourself focused on the biggest threat. There are also a variety of weapons strewn about each level that you can pick up and dismember your foes with, but there are so many of them to choose from you will likely find one or two that do the most damage and stick with them. This makes the novelty of having such an overabundance of weapons almost useless. It also doesn’t help that the same button that is used to pick up weapons also throws them, so prepare to toss items constantly to see which one does the most damage. You can carry two different weapons at a time and some of them are downright brutal.
My other big concern is the camera system. Far too often I had no idea what was going on in the game because the camera was panned so far back. There are buckets and buckets of blood constantly spilling, but nine times out of ten I rarely saw where it was coming from. There is a close-up feature that shows your kills, but by default it pops up too often and actually hinders gameplay even more. Most battles consisted of me running into a group of enemies and wailing away on the right stick hoping I emerged victorious. This removes any sort of strategy involved with the game and again almost eliminates the novelty of the multitude of weaponry.
What the game does do well though is exactly what it markets. The mature take on the classic children’s tales is extremely well done. The amount of blood in the game is massive, so much so that once you disperse of a group of enemies you can skate around in the red goo at your leisure (there is even an Achievement/Trophy for it). I also really like the story even if it is told through ridiculously small text that is a pain to read through. The story is well told and very outside the box in its mentality, but you have to be dedicated to really appreciate it.
Single player is broken down into themed chapters and outside of the overly long boss battles consist of the same methodology over and over again. Throwing new environments and enemies at you may have worked for downloadable titles or classic games, but as a full investment this type of tedium is likely to frustrate most gamers. I did enjoy the boss battles more than the levels in the game, but as I mentioned they go on for far too long. There is an option to play the game online with a friend and it actually makes the experience much more fun. The down side is unless you know someone personally who picked it up, there are not a lot of players online to match up with.
Visually the game actually does what it intends to fairly well. I like the level layouts and enemy types as they are certainly not your normal cannon fodder. The color palette is refreshingly bright and of course the copious amounts of blood really take the game to another level. The disappointment kicks in when you finally get a close up of the action and see some of the shortcomings. Character models sport some poor texture work and the animations can be choppy at times. The audio feels rushed as the music is passable, but the minimal voice work and clunky sound effects really do nothing to excel them above mediocrity.
Fairytale Fights is a good example of a fantastic concept poorly executed. All of the visuals and presentation seem in place, but the monotonous gameplay and boring combat really drag down the overall experience. If this was released as a straight-up downloadable game or even a budget-priced disc title I would not be as quick to dismiss it, but at $60 it is hard to recommend outside of a weekend rental. I expect the game to drop in price fairly quickly and when it does it will be a steal, until then I will have to chalk it up to another great idea fumbled at the goal line.