A sore disappointment for fans of creepy but cute games, Fairytale Fights falls very short of its potential. The creative level design and engaging graphics can’t make up for abominable controls, repetitive play and a lack of character progression. Inevitably compared to XBLA hit Castle Crashers, Fairytale fights fails to provide a fraction of the entertainment delivered by Behemoth’s masterpiece – but still grasps desperately to the full retail sticker price.
I’ll willingly admit that I was one of those with high hopes for Fairytale Fights, fueled by a pleasant but brief hands-on session several months back. A unique art style and creative level design made tromping through blood-spattered landscapes a surprising treat, and it was engaging in small doses. However, once the retail copy made its way into my hands, I quickly found that the lustrous surface masked a superficial and ultimately flawed game.
First, the game-breaking issues. Some titles appear simple then surprise you with layers of hidden complexity. Fairytale Fights is not one of those games. Your chosen fable scrolls through level after level, hacking and slashing through waves of enemies. Combined with this repetitive play, a lack of character progression leaves the game feeling hollow. Surprising for a game based on legend and lore, a narrative is also anemic, aside from interstitial slabs of text.
One hopes to find the missing complexity in the highly touted weapon system, but it isn’t as robust as first appears. Dozens of weapons are at your disposal, although many are useless in the grand scheme of things. When your options are a giant bratwurst, a branch, a carrot or a straightforward kitchen knife, the less flashy weapons always win. There is entertaining irony found in beating a lumberjack to death with a beaver on a spit, but there is never any real reason to forfeit a knife, sword or axe.
You will, however, repeatedly find yourself unarmed thanks to the cold clutches of death. Fairytale Fights allows you to carry two weapons, one banked and one equipped. If you die, the weapon in your hands is forfeit, whether from a fall or influx of baddies. Die twice – let’s say in a particularly tough onslaught of foes – and you are left weaponless, making it all the more difficult to gain the upper hand. When caught in such a vicious cycle, you’ll perish repeatedly and lose all your wealth before eventually besting the foes with elementary hand- to-hand skills.
Then there are the controls. In theory, the controls should be accessible and easy to understand. Flicking the right thumb stick in any direction slashes at enemies. Although mindless, it works well enough for most weapons. However, moving about a level with any degree of control is nearly impossible, as your character handles as if they are on skates. I found myself circling items several times in order to close a miniscule gap, and brawled myself off a cliff in the heat of battle more than once.
These are only my major qualms. If the above issues didn’t deliver the killing blow, a plethora of smaller misgivings laid Fairytale Fights to rest. In my playtime I saw loot continuously spawn off cliffs or disappear too quickly to pick up. Additionally, most levels boast tricky environmental hazards, such as bobbing saw blades. I met my demise several times passing by, only to find myself spawning under that very same blade. I eventually escaped thanks to a forgiving respawn, but only after a string of deaths robbed me of all my accumulated wealth. Top off the list with repetitive and uninspired boss battles, an off-kilter depth of field and a one-dimensional economy, and Fairytale Fights is offensive, just not in the way Playlogic intended.
Inevitably compared to XBLA
hit Castle Crashers, Fairytale fights fails to provide a fraction of
the entertainment delivered by Behemoth’s masterpiece – but still
grasps desperately to the full retail sticker price.