Light Fairytale Episode 1 - The Nostalgia Factor
I've been a fan of JRPGs for as long as I can remember. Sure, their stories were always the focal point, but I'd argue that what I call atmosphere was even more important to me. I'll always remember playing Final Fantasy VI or VII after school and how immersed I was in those worlds.
When I discovered that an indie game was inspired by the very same games I loved, I didn't think too much of it. Most indie RPGs just couldn't capture the feeling these old Japanese games had, but I'm glad to say that Light Fairytale from Neko Works does so with flying colors.
Clearly inspired by Final Fantasy VII, the game nails the atmosphere right off the bat. It feels like playing a PS1 era JRPG, only with beautiful HD graphics. Despite the story taking place in an oppressive underground empire, it doesn't take itself too seriously most of the time, courtesy of our main duo: Haru and Kuroko. Their interactions are generally fun to watch, in an almost childlike kind of way.
There's nothing much to be said about the story. It's very basic, which is understandable, since it's only the first episode, but I felt it could've been developed more. At times, I felt the story wasn't going anywhere, and for a game that can be completed in under 4 hours, that's a bit of a bummer. Still, the beats are still there.
How's the battle system, you ask? Well, it's... Very basic. Not much strategy involved, you either attack or use orbs (magic). There's little variety in the magic you can use, and there's hardly any equipment to find, which is a shame.
There are random encounters, but this time it comes with a twist. There's a fixed rate of enemies you can find in any given area, and you can see the % remaining. That way, you can't really get overleveled, and it's an incentive to clear the area of its monsters. You can also check your list of objectives, which is pretty useful.
After you beat the game, you can also play as Kuroko, watching the same events from her perspective. Unfortunately, it only leads to a some extra lines of dialogue and a few extra scenes. Now, this could be potentially interesting because of what happens at the end (which I won't spoil). Depending on the execution, these alternating perspectives could make episode 2 even better.
It's very cool to see a sole indie developer with this much passion for a project. Sure, the story and battle system are still a bit simplistic, but I believe it has potential to become something great in subsequent episodes.