Let’s talk about Fantasy Life.
As an RPG created by Level-5 with music by Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame, Fantasy Life sounded like a dream come true from the moment I first heard of it. Even better, while I mainly know Level-5 from the Professor Layton series, I was already familiar with the Fantasy Life concept. Professor Layton and the Last Specter included an RPG side game called Layton’s London Life, which let Level-5 test the framework they’d eventually use for Fantasy Life.
But while Layton’s London Life was simple, Fantasy Life is not. You might find yourself overwhelmed at the start, especially if you have an aversion to open-world games, like I do. Fantasy Life isn’t open-world, but has a structure somewhat like the first Xenoblade Chronicles–large areas to explore with numerous side areas, a constant stream of side quests, and a story that unlocks new areas as you advance.
Yes, a story. Between exploring, completing side quests, and completing challenges for each Life, it’s easy to lose track of the story entirely. Once you settle down and follow the plot quests, however, it does have a definite story. It may not be the deepest story by RPG standards, but it’s cute, with some genuinely interesting moments.
Some players may be put off by the sheer amount of dialogue in the game, especially when the story doesn’t seem to be the major focus. Even though I love plot-heavy games, there were times I got a little annoyed and just wanted them to shut up. The story’s humor and sense of charm, however, were enough for me not to mind too much.
Combat is fairly basic. It’s an action RPG system with a basic attack and a couple special attacks. As you progress the story or a Life, you gain allies you can invite to join your party. You can also invite your pets. Two party members can be with you at a time, and as your friendship increases by spending time together, they become more inclined to use their own special attacks. Your character will level up, and each level will let you distribute points to increase your various stats.
The Life system is one of the game’s strongest points. You Life is more or less your class or job, and you can switch between them whenever you want. Each comes with challenges that let you level up, and they vary based on Life. For example, a Paladin might have a certain type of enemy to defeat, while a Cook would need to prepare a certain meal. My only criticism of the Life system is that I found the crafting Lives to be a little tedious. I preferred the ones that sent me out into the world to fight enemies, mine gems, chop down trees, etc. On the other hand, if there’s a Life you don’t find enjoyable, you can just ignore it.
That was another marketing point of the game, that you could be any Life you wanted. You can complete the entire story as a Tailor if you want. The main campaign doesn’t force you into any battles you couldn’t win as a non-combat Life, so it’s possibly to play without fighting.
Completionists, however, will want to try everything, and Fantasy Life is a completionist’s dream. It is extremely addictive, especially if you’re exploring or working on quests. I got tired around the 60-hour mark, but players who want to max out every Life and complete every side quest have reported 100-200 hours of playtime. Fantasy Life will never leave you with nothing to do.
I haven’t completed the Origin Island DLC expansion yet. I started it, but decided to take a short break in order to play another game. When I return to Origin Island, I may review it separately if it’s long enough.
As far as the main game goes, however, check out Fantasy Life if you’re looking for a lighthearted RPG adventure with tons of stuff to do.
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