While the game's lack of variety can lead to repetition, the engaging storyline and differing locales ensure you'll see Faery's adventure right through to its abrupt conclusion.
We love fairytales. There's something magical about the way they turn familiar concepts into wonderfully foreign ideas. Beneath Faery: Legends Of Avalon's misleading promotional artwork is a game that's much more unique than it at first appears. We went in expecting a Tolkein-esque universe, but Avalon is much more in-line with the works of the Grimm Brothers. Coming out of France, there's a delightful European gothic tone underscoring Faery's colourful surface charms.
Despite some translation issues, the plot is delightfully constructed. You assume the position of a faery who has just emerged from stasis. The faery king informs you that because humans have ceased believing in faeries, the faery civilization and its inhabitants are dying out. It's the most simple of premises, but like the best fairy-tales it has that hint of "what if?" curiosity. The set-up certainly instilled an attachment within us. You're prompted to recruit a band of magical creatures and save the world from its impending destruction. The game spans four unique locations, some of which are based on existing mythologies such as the Flying Dutchman ghost-ship, and the Yggdrasil tree.
From a gameplay perspective, Faery: Legends Of Avalon is a fairly traditional turn-based RPG. As you recruit magical creatures, you extend your party, all of which can be used in battle. It's all fairly straight-forward stuff. The battle system hinges on action points which increase as you level up. Action points restrict the number of attacks you can make in one turn, with some actions taking up multiple slots. Different characters in your party will assume unique roles in your battle strategy; Bert the Troll is an excellent tank, while Aziel has some good healing properties. It's thread-bare stuff, but considering there's very few turn-based RPGs on the PlayStation 3 it stands out.
You're given the freedom to develop your main character as you choose. Upon starting a new game there are a number of preset options to customise your character. You can choose between gender, skin tone and face-shape. However, the customisation doesn't end there. As you level up your character you're given the option to extend your range of moves and powers. As you do so, you'll add unique features to your character. We ended up with dragon-fly wings and antennae. It adds personality to your choices.
Similarly, you're given a number of different ways to tackle the game's quests. One mission required us to make contact with a mermaid. We did so by stealing a conch from the local fisherman. However, when we required a fish to complete a later quest, we found the fisherman would no longer help us due to our prior confrontational actions. There's no overbearing morality system in Faery, instead the game tracks your relationships with other characters. Faery also keeps a track of your unique story-thread, allowing you to compare narrative choices with friends via the PSN.
As a faery, movement throughout the world is done entirely with flight. This is a fluid method of navigation, though it can be a bit disorienting at times, particularly when traversing the complex vertical tree environment. Adjusting altitude with the R2/L2 triggers can also be fiddly, but on the whole the control mechanics suit the pace.
Each of Faery's four unique environments look attractive and colourful. The City Of Mirages (which takes place on the back of a beetle) is particularly impressive, and the game manages to convey a good sense of scale as you come into encounter with birds and other animals. The game's got a cel-shaded style to it that gives it a hand-drawn feel, and some of the character art-work is impressive. Unfortunately the game's bland sound-scape lets much of the atmosphere created by the art-style down. The score is fantastic, but without voice acting and very little ambient sound effects the world feels hollow and empty.
Faery does get repetitive over its 6-8 hour campaign, partly because there's just not enough variety to the quest and battle system. That said, it does feel unique and ends strongly, prompting the next part of what's touted to be an episodic adventure. Despite being utterly predictable, Faery actually ends up feeling pretty unique, largely because there's so few turn-based games on PlayStation 3. The art direction gives it personality, and despite some translation issues, the plot is intriguing if a little slow-paced.
If you're after something a little quirky with a good length to it, Faery might just be what you're looking for. It's a neat little RPG with some lovely locales to explore.