Fairytale Fights Review
Written : Sunday, November 15, 2009
By: Lee Abrahams (GT: jackanape)
There are few games that can claim to be directly inspired by fairytales, and with good reason, as it is hard to think that having princesses outwit evil witches/wolves/queens would be much fun on an eight hour basis. So the best thing to do would be to take the general outline of fairytales, twist them a bit, chuck in barrels full of blood and a few axes and then let the whole thing run amok - which is exactly what we have here. I suppose in general terms you could see this as a sort of Disney game, if it were on acid and given an 18 rating.
A fairytale village in all of its glory.
Playlogic are not exactly a household name, and they have only the lamentable Infernal to show for their efforts on the 360 thus far, but at least they have gone in a slightly new direction here. I suppose the direct inspiration would have to be games like Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid, which have old school attributes but still manage to be hours of fun thanks to the slick presentation and quirky sense of humour. The only problem here is that the game never seems to take off.
Our story sees famous fairytale heroes like Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and, inexplicably, the Naked Emperor, falling from grace. A new hero is in town and is stealing all of their thunder, even though his motives seem suspect at best. There is also the minor matter of a pesky giant swiping story books and using them as kindling, which is hardly conducive to good news for a land that relies entirely on fables. So our rag tag band of former greats hope to propel themselves back into the limelight by solving the problems befalling their land, whilst earning the fame, adoration and loot that they feel entitled to.
All well and good, but most of the story is told through interaction with the seemingly omnipotent Storyteller that follows you around or through little cut-scenes and background goings on. The issue here is that, with no voice work to speak of, you often have no clue what is going on barring the overwhelming need to slice up everything in sight. A game like this does not necessarily need a compelling storyline in order to work, but with the wealth of source material on offer you would have hoped for a little more.
Beware an angry beaver.
The main village to begin your quest in allows you to head off into each chapter, play arena battles against other players or just generally view your statistics. The taxidermy hut shows all of your conquered foes in trophy form, the bank holds your savings and you can even splash the cash on a big old statue of yourself should the desire take you. It also keeps track of the weapons you have used and the number and types of kills you have amassed – though sadly not on a specific basis which hinders your quest for achievements.
The game itself is supremely simple to pick up and play. You, along with three other players should you so desire, take control of our heroes and deal bloody death to anyone standing in your way. Each level throws countless foes at you and it is down to you to dispatch them as efficiently as possible via the right stick, which can be used to pull off a variety of moves. Strewn about your path are a number of deadly and not so deadly weapons with which to wreck havoc. Want to beat someone to death with a bunny toy? You can. Fancy stabbing them with a chicken on a spit instead? Be my guest. It does keep things fun when you could be using pretty much anything you can get your grubby mitts on to dispense justice, though you do have a standard array of axes, clubs, bows and guns should the need for normality overwhelm you. String together a bunch of combos and you can unleash your "Glory" attacks which vary from weapon to weapon, though the most common of which sees you giving the chance to interactively slice your foes into pieces.
Other than the regulation weapons you also have wands and potions which can provide a variety of effects. Potions in particular can be a double edged sword – providing you with benefits should you drink them or giving your foes a headache should you hurl them in their direction. My only concern with the combat system, especially for those renting the game, would be the frankly poor tutorial system which tells you how to do things at an extremely slow pace. After three big fights you are finally told how to block and it takes even longer than that to be told you can store a back up weapon at all – good going.
Who belongs in the kitchen now?
Aside from a few obvious puzzles and some highly irritating platforming (seriously, why is there no double jump?), the game offers very little else. Instead you have to just batter your way through levels, opening chests for loot or using wishing wells should you have the cash. The real issue is the fact you will die so very often due to the unforgiving nature of combat and the number of assailants that swarm you, especially when going solo. Death will take away some of your cash and diminish your glory meter, making it even tougher on you. Sure, you have infinite continues but when you are kicking the bucket every two minutes, what kind of fun is that? The boss battles too are a bone of contention, as they all follow the same dull set of routines each time and seem to go on for far too long. So rather than being fun set pieces they become boring repetitions of the same few moves until victory is assured.
The achievement list does looks fun and is easy enough, until you realize one thing – a bunch of them are glitched and that fact alone pretty much kills it from there on out. If you play the game (and complete it) on your own, for some reason, you will not be able to unlock any of the multiplayer achievements. Did I also mention that none of the difficulties stack? So you are stuck playing through the game six times – oh dear. You also cannot unlock the achievement for finding all treasure chests as a door leading to five of them is glitched shut. Plus, you cannot access some weapons, but thankfully this will unlock at a lower number anyway. Throw in the fact that the statistics for stunning people with wands/potions and killing them barehanded are messed up and you literally have a real nightmare of a list on your hands. The list itself looks fun, but what good is that if it does not work as it should?.
The crux of the matter is that Fairytale Fights is fun for a few hours, but after that, the shine really does start to come off, which is a real shame as the concept offered so much. Even playing the game as a rental or for achievements is a no go too thanks to some extremely dubious programming. This is by no means a terrible game as the action can be great at times and the whole game looks superb, but that is never going to be enough to paper over the cracks left by the wafer thin story, poor boss fights and level after level of the same old thing.
Pretty much non-existent really, as there is no voice work to speak of and the background music is just bland filler.
A beautiful cartoon style twist on classic fairytales, though a few collision detection issues can make combat frustrating.
Kill enemies, progress, kill some more enemies, progress, then dodge a few spikes and progress some more. If you do not get bored after a few levels than your pain tolerance must be high.
A fun but overly generic and repetitive slash ‘em up game. The levels all tend to blend into one another after a while and the combat is nothing more than button bashing at its finest (as it were).
In a word – glitched. So for anyone interested in getting the full thousand points, you may well have to wait on a patch which is unforgivable considering the simple nature of most of the tasks.
This game is fun while it lasts but the constant stream of deaths just makes things more frustrating than entertaining. Throw in a barrel full of glitches and the exact same levels time after time and you will probably have had enough after one playthrough. A rental only and, frankly, the much better Castle Crashers is probably a preferable option.