If you’re on the hunt for something new to play but aren’t interested in the classic “save the princess” story, Video Game Fables might be just what you’re looking for.
Right from the beginning this game seems different. Taking the tradition gaming convention and turning it upside down. Instead of being the one to go out and save the princess, you are the princess. Not only that but you first free yourself and then are out to save your kingdom.
Now the simplistic, Paper Mario adjacent, styling of the game gives it a really cute feel. On top of that they were smart to add the “2D” characteristics of the game into the story.
There are a lot of things that this game does really well and a few things that I found rather frustrating once you get past the opening.
I found the controls to be a little awkward. I wanted to keep reaching for the mouse but the whole game is controlled through the keyboard. While I found this to be a nuisance, it does make a lot more sense for anyone playing on a laptop without a mouse present. That being said, having the option to either use a mouse or a second hand on the keyboard would be a vast improvement. Being able to re-map the keys would have turned this from frustration to fun. You’ll really notice this while exploring the world map.
Exploring the world is also a bit of a pain. If you’re playing straight through it isn’t so bad but I made the mistake of stepping away from the game for a little bit and then jumping back in. What makes that an issue is the fact that the goal you’re trying to reach is explained based on cardinal directions from another location. IE “go North East from the Castle”.
Like I said, if you come out of the castle and start tackling the objective right away it’s more or less fine. If you don’t do it right away it will require you to figure out where the starting point for your directions is again and going from there. That can be a really big hassle and would easily be solved with a directional arrow pointing you to your intended goal.
Finally the battle segments. This is somewhere that I think the game really shines, but in this section I’m just going to talk about it’s fault. The controls. Once again even using the keyboard going into battle requires a change of hand placement for one hand in order to select where your attack will be directed. A small inconvenience but due to the timer on move selection it always makes me feel in a little bit of a panic when I forget. Literally my only complaint about fighting.
Ok now that we’re past my griping about the issues in the game. Let’s talk about what it does well.
The story for the game is a lot of quirky fun. There are constant small little jokes and stupid things that you never get to see in other games. Even in the opening scene I found myself chuckling more than once.
Experience and leveling up is done masterfully. The whole group levels up as a whole which is a lot more streamlined than having to either create one superchamp or grind your way through keeping all your characters even.
On top of that leveling isn’t permanent. Your experience is also used to unlock moves on the characters move lists. Depending on the situation you are able to easily re-distribute the XP you’ve built to where it is needed. Need to unlock a move for a particular player? just downgrade the groups level and use that XP. Finding that you’re not using certain things? Remove them and funnel that XP into leveling up your characters again. There is not degradation of the XP as you do this either so you don’t have to worry about making changes at all.
Unlocking new moves for your characters is very easy to understand as well. There is someone in town that can help you unlock the new moves by simply trading in the items that they require. It can be difficult to find the items that you need but at least you know what you’re looking for. As long as you’re battling in the world map it is pretty easy to just come across all the items that you need.
Although the world map can be a pain to explore (controls), it is very vast. Different areas bring different enemies and with some skill you might be able to avoid running into battle at all. Another great benefit is the fact the you can warp back to the castle town at any point and heal up if you need. From there you can warp right back to your most recent warp location allowing you to explore with a lot less worry.
Battles are, in my opinion, where this game really shines. It’s not the animations or move lists that really make the difference but the turn order. Your moves and even the weapons that your characters are using make all the difference as to when each character will attack. It is simple enough to read the turn order as you build it which means turn order becomes an actual tangible aspect of a battle. If you want to have your healing character make sure to get their heal in before the battle is done, you can plan for that. It really makes move selection a vital part of the game in more ways than just what hits hardest.
All in all this game turned out to be better than I initially expected. There are a lot of things that the developer needs to look at improving but that being said I will definitely be keeping an eye out for their future releases. If you’re looking for something that is fun and simple this is a great game to jump into. Easy to play with a show or movie playing in the background and a very pleasant way to pass the time.