Light Fairytale (Episode 1) was released in 2019 in non-physical form on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and returns to us this year 2022 with a beautiful physical PS4 release (includes manual/guideline plus OST) by distributor Red Art Games. The opportunity to bring you our impressions of the first episode of JRPG with multiple inspirations from the 90s (the golden age of the genre).
Yes, it’s very rare to point out that Light Fairytale adopts a episodic format, which is the one we often find for narrative stories, even if Final Fantasy VII Remake has recently taken the same “episodic” path. By dividing it into three parts. For its part, Light Fairytale is also planned in four episodes, two of which have already appeared, Episode 1 in question today, and the second part is available since 2021 on Xbox, PC and PS4 in a non-physical form. But the adventure could not have seen the light of day without the drive, work and passion of its author.
Designed by one person, studio neko.works is based in France, and first underwent a participatory campaign on Kickstarter in 2016 under the name Project Light (which would become Light Fairytale). Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful due to lack of funding. But instead of scrapping his project, the author, who has the ambition to create his own games, somehow put this JRPG aside. This is to make way for Super Night Riders, an arcade racing game released in the same year (2016). The latter’s income was the main source of financing for Light Fairytale. Two years later (November 2018), the first episode of Light Fairytale appeared in Early Access on Steam before the final release in 2019. 2022 marks its return to the spotlight, thanks to the PS4 physical release, but also when it was released further. Recently (last April) on Nintendo Switch.
A miserable world and multiple references
The adventure begins in a dystopian world, the inhabitants live in a small underground city: the Lower City. These villagers, called scavengers, rule by orders of the Empire’s government, somehow obedient to the will and working hard for the Empire. In addition, this underground city is divided into several layers, that is, the longer the inhabitants live in the depths, the more poor and needy they become, the echoes of Final Fantasy VII and Midgar feel this. However, it wasn’t always like that… A long time ago the world was prosperous, moreover, science and technology were so advanced, even that humans outlived them. But an unexpected phenomenon happened soon enough, and this prosperous world was destroyed. So humanity survived by digging underground for thousands of years, and then this part of history was forgotten …
Today, the naive young Haru and the lazy dreamer dreams of a vast plain, and a “blue roof”, something he had never seen before: “the sky”. Accompanied by his childhood friend Kuroko, a fighter, tech-savvy, and secretly in love with his friend, Haru decides to attempt to discover this famous blue sky by trying to reach the surface. But to do this, he will have to “escape”, and rebel against the Empire …
A dystopian world, social class inequality, an underground city without access to real daylight, or how not to think about Final Fantasy VII (we mentioned it earlier), series tales (Arise, Vesperia, …), or even an episode Its inspiration we feel strongly about Breath of Fire – Dragon Quarter: an underground scientist, a hero, ready to do anything to return to the surface of the world to save young Nina.
For these games mentioned above, we discover that the characters have what it takes to become likable over time (character). It must be said that their interactions, sometimes optional and thus easily overlooked, or do not add more depth to their friendship based on jokes, bickering, jealousy, or even certain adult hints, are all there, whether said casually. transient. Obviously, we are only talking about the first episode and what it consists of. Let’s see if the sequel keeps that sweet promise.
Also note that this first part of the adventure can be experienced initially from Haru’s point of view, and then from Kuroko’s point of view after finishing the game for the first time. The changes between the two protagonists are not drastic, but rather mild, with the characters separated only slightly. This feature, which has already been seen elsewhere, has a certain possibility, which can be seen in the following episodes – which is not logically dealt with here, and this test is based only on this first part -.
With its inspiration from the 90s, or even the games mentioned above, the gameplay in Light Fairytale won’t confuse RPG fans. There are interconnected areas, non-playable characters to speak, interactions to retrieve consumables/objects, or entirely optional sequences. There’s also access to a mini-game, traditional equipment/magic system (via orbs), very little to use in this first part, and of course the clashes against opponents.
These random battles can arise in two ways, either through predefined circular areas or by progressing in a more classic way. Either way, a transition is being made to make way for more traditional JRPG turn-based combat.
You can use objects, perform guard, use magic (versus MP), attack with a main weapon or even with each character’s unique special abilities: protect Haru for example. With this data, it is up to you to take advantage, exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, heal, … which, by the way, should not be too complicated.
The final point in these encounters, know that after receiving enough hits, by filling in a certain meter, the two heroes can use the “Rage” technique, again for each other. For the first draft it’s easy to get to, the balance is generally well balanced, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t take advantage of more combinations of possibilities.
and classic graphics
Now let’s move on to the technical/chart part. We tested on PS5 with backwards compatibility, and didn’t experience any particular issues. Visually, the software uses the Unity Engine for its models, both for its Chibi characters, as we’ve already seen in other productions sealed with JRPGs, and for the few other industrial settings. The title also benefits from very beautiful detailed artwork and animation sequences.
Musically speaking, Terry Chandler’s themes are well suited to the situations you’re in. Remember that the PS4 physical version contains the OST and its twelve titles in CD format. Finally, if the title doesn’t offer real dubbing, subtitles will be available in Japanese, English or French, with very slight shelling throughout the text.
Tested on PS5 via backwards compatibility with PS4 versions
The episodic form of Light Fairytale is bound to be very detrimental to this kind of experience, and in particular the JRPG requires time before its context/plot and characters are in place. So it is difficult with a single episode to confirm or invalidate the final quality of the full title. But for now, the first basics make us want to know what can happen next, even if the life span appears a little and leaves a feeling of inferiority. So we’ve been waiting to see the sequel/end with a certain curiosity, this episode is full of promises to come.