Fairune is a charming 8-bit adventure which has previously been released on mobile and 3DS and has now finally found its way to the PlayStation Vita. When you first take a look at Fairune it’s easy to assume that it’s just going to be some kind of retro RPG, but it’s actually much more of a puzzle game than an RPG.
The game begins with a mystical book – the Ancient Codex – telling you about three Spirit Icons which once sealed an evil spirit away. Unfortunately, these Spirit Icons have disappeared. Strange events have begun to occur across the land and monsters have appeared. The Ancient Codex tells you that the chosen one (you) must seek out the three missing spirit icons, and using them restore peace to the world. It’s a fairly clichéd story, and after the introduction at the beginning you are pretty much just left on your own to figure things out. I don’t necessarily think that the lack of story is a bad thing though, as the game is much more about exploration than trying to tell some deep and amazing tale.
Put in control of a female adventurer, you’re placed in the middle of a map. Initially you have no weapon, so you can only bounce off enemies – but thankfully they don’t see you as a threat, so they won’t attack you. The game eases you into things gently and – after a quick and simple puzzle – you’ll even get your hands on a sword. Time to get fighting! Only you don’t. The game’s ‘combat system’ consists of you just walking on top of your enemies.
This unique system works whereby an enemy if an enemy is too strong for you, then you’ll get injured and bounce off it; if it’s too weak, then you’ll kill it… but not get any experience points for it. The sweet spot is enemies that are at your level or just one above, as you’ll get injured slightly but will also gain experience for the kill. The more experience you get, the higher your level, and the stronger the monsters are that you can kill. While your initial thoughts are likely to be along the line of ‘is that it?’ in terms of the combat system, there is something strangely satisfying about squishing monsters beneath your dainty little feet.
Combat is definitely not the main focus of the game however, as what takes the forefront is the puzzles. While the initial few puzzles are quite simple, they’ll soon begin to get more tricky – and in some cases quite obscure. Most of the puzzles are about observation, and you’ll need to keep your eyes open for anything that looks a bit different (you never know where a secret passageway or clue might be hiding). It’s unfortunate that solutions to some of the puzzles seem to be a bit difficult to work out, as there isn’t really anything else to do in the game. If you get stuck anywhere then that’ll stop all progress until you finally figure it out (or look up the solution online).
Visually, Fairune does have its charms. It has colourful and simple 8-bit style graphics, as well as 8-bit music – both of which work perfectly for it. There are three screens that are on show at the same time; the largest shows your character and the area that they’re in, but there is also a map screen and an inventory screen. Although there’s a lot being shown to you at the same time, it all fits on to the Vita’s screen really well, and you won’t have any difficulty reading anything at a glance. It would have been nice to have an option to zoom into the map, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be making notes on a notepad of where you think you might need to revisit anyway.
The game won’t take you long to beat, and it will probably only take a few hours on your first playthrough. It does have some replayability though, and are trophies available for completing the game within a time limit, as well as ones hunting down all rare monsters and objects.
Ultimately however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Fairune. While quite short, it’s simply a delight to play – and I found it really enjoyable to try to solve all the games puzzles, and find all of the hidden objects. There will definitely be times when you’re left scratching your head, but as long as you’re observant you should be able to solve most of the puzzles after a bit of messing around. All that said – and combined with its low price – you’d be crazy not to give this game a try.