I’m usually pretty fond with what Idea Factory comes up with. Sure, their games can feel pretty samey over time, but that just means they’ve found their niche and they tend to stick to it. Typically after a few releases you end up with superior versions of RPGs that are at least pretty decent. Sometimes, well…sometimes they bring Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force to the Switch after successful releases on the PS4 and Steam. Sometimes they do that, then we all cry.
Advent Dark Force is essentially a “director’s cut” of Fairy Fencer F, a fantasy RPG where we follow Fang the fencer and his fairy friend Eryn. Fang’s not really into the whole “adventure” thing and would prefer to just eat and sleep his life away, but destiny has other ideas. He’ll team up with other fencers on a quest to find all the scattered Furies, magical swords that can be used to revive a slumbering goddess…though in Advent Dark Force, it’s equally possible to use them to revive the goddess’ also-slumbering evil counterpart, the Vile God. You can take the plot in different directions based on your choices in this regard, which is a nice touch. Advent Dark Force also adds new playable characters and generally fleshes out the game, throwing in dungeons where only cutscenes existed before and so on.
Exploration and combat are similar to the modern releases of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series; the gameplay in original Fairy Fencer F could be seen as the first draft of those games, and Advent Dark Force feels like a revision on the original formula. You run around exploring areas, seeking treasure and encountering monsters when you bop them with your weapon or run into them. In combat, you move within a limited radius to approach monsters and attack with combos or special moves; in times of need, your characters can Fairize into more powerful forms, with an associated goofy animation and theme song.
None of this is especially complicated or innovative, but there’s a lot of polish put into every aspect of Advent Dark Force that makes it a pleasure to play.
Here’s the problem: this is the Switch version of the game, and, uh…it’s not great. It’s not great at all. The original release of Fairy Fencer F on the PS3 was plagued with performance issues, but Advent Dark Force made use of the horsepower offered by the PS4 and PC to address those, resulting in a much better game. That’s not the case here. The framerate plummets horrifically pretty much all the time, especially during combat and even when you’re playing docked. Collision physics suffer as a result, so good luck landing any surprise attacks on enemies. Advent Dark Force runs so poorly on the Switch that it basically turns the game into an unplayable mess. Rest in peace, Advent Dark Force.
Look, the bottom line is that this game is available for less on both the PS4 and PC at this point, so there’s not really much of a reason to go for this version. As of this writing, five bucks will get you the game and all its DLCs for PC through one of several resellers. That’s a little nuts, especially given the low quality of this port, and it suggests that your money might be better spent on a PS4 or a video card upgrade rather than playing Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force on Switch. I’d be shocked if you didn’t have another way to play it, but if you don’t, well…you’ll still want to skip this version.