Cue Fairytale Fights, a heavily violent take on the often sweet and innocent world of children's literature. Here, Little Red Riding Hood chops the limbs from lumberjacks and the heads off gingerbread men.
Fairytale Fights is a bleak game set in a comical universe. It's black, violent subject matter contrasts with the bright, cel-shaded environments to create a rather ironic game in an iconic universe. Fairytale Fights is bright, clever and often humorous, but sadly its hack and slash gameplay leaves a lot to be desired.
Playable with up to four-players, Fairytale Fights has a strong emphasis on co-operative gameplay, which helps to extend the game beyond its standard 10 hour campaign.
Fairytale Fights is a gorgeous game, brimming with colour and style. While the environments could be enhanced with more variation, it's very hard to deny this is a pretty game. The huge environments provide a great sense of scale, showcasing lofty architecture and some real lovely artwork. The audio is also perfectly complementary to the visual style, providing twinkly melodies underscored by the screams of your foes. It's that underlying irony that's probably Fairytale Fights' greatest strength.
Strangely, Fairytale Fights' combat is all assigned to the right analogue stick. This makes the game a bit of a waggle-fest, as you face countless foes, with little to no skill. Thankfully, the game gives you plenty of weapons to try along the way. And while the gameplay never gets more complex than waggling the stick, at least you can say you killed a ginger bread man with a half eaten lollipop.
Fairytale Fights is sarcastic. It does black humour extremely well, with strong emotive characters and some pretty well written circumstances. One subtlety we picked up on was during an epic battle with a gigantic beaver. We fed the furry beast some gross fish, causing him to promptly puke back the contents of his stomach. Along with the beaver's bile stood a celebrating lumberjack, free from the confines of the beaver's stomach at last. As he danced an escape victory, the lumberjack's skin slowly melted away, as the acid from the beaver's stomach slowly killed him. The game's funny depending on your sense of humour, and of course it won't be everone's cup of tea, but if you like black humour - Fairytale Fights does it well.
Gameplay wise, playing Fairytale Fights in co-op is where the game is at its most fun. The netcode is very strong, making the experience seamless offline or online. The universe is enhanced when shared with other people, and the gameplay even becomes a lot less repetitive. You'll blast through levels quicker, meaning there's a lot more variation. There's also a neat touch involved with Friendly Fire. Seeing as dead players drop much of their money, you can sneak up on "partners" just before the end of a level to kill them and steal their money. Crafty but hilarious. It's apparent Fairytale Fights was designed with co-op in mind, and you'd be silly to play it any other way.
Fairytale Fights is a pretty shallow game: kill a host of enemies, run to the right, jump over some obstacles, rinse and repeat until boss fight. The art work and level design make up for the mediocre platforming, but Fairytale Fights really needs a more interesting combat mechanic. With some alternative combos, the game could have been a lot more rewarding. Sadly, Fairytale Fights asks you to simply waggle the right analogue stick to kill the hordes of enemies littering the screen. It's the equivalent of simply hitting Square over and over. There's a mechanic allowing you to hold the analogue stick to charge for a more powerful attack, but it's unneccessary. You just waggle until your arm aches. That's not really much fun.
Given Fairytale Fights' "almost 2D, not quite 3D" design, there are a lot of sections based on simple platforming. This would work better if the jumps weren't so difficult to gauge. Because the game isn't strictly 2D, you can easily misjudge the depth at which you make jumps, leading to soft deaths.
Bizarrely death has no real penalty in Fairytale Fights. While this is a good thing when you come up against some impossible platforming sections, it really makes the game very easy. You will lose in-game money when you die, but as far as we can tell, money has no real influence on the game anyway. Aside from buying some weapons that aren't much better than those lying on the floor, or building a statue (!), there's no real reason to collect the game's currency, and as such no real penalty for death.
There's a lot of creativity in Fairytale Fights' environments and art. It's a great shame then, that such creativity isn't apparent in the game's core gameplay mechanics.