Switch version tested
Review code provided
I used to love JRPG’s when I was younger. Unfortunately, as I’ve aged, I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t really play them much anymore. Whether it be lack of interest or lack of time, I just don’t find myself being as intrigued by these kinds of games as I used to be. But every once in a while, a game will briefly reignite my love for the genre. Ara Fell, while not for very long, did bring back that familiar feeling. And that’s a good way to put it: Ara Fell feels very familiar. It’s one of those new releases that allows you to let muscle memory take control and it feels like you’re playing a game that you’ve beaten a dozen times over.
You control a teenage archer named Lita who, while exploring a cave with her best friend Adrian, finds a strange ring that kicks off their adventures through the land of Ara Fell. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into much more from here on as far as the story goes.
The combat is standard for a 16-bit JRPG. There’s not much of a challenge to it, which may turn off some role-playing veterans, but it does make it very accessible even to gamers that may be new to the genre. The combat menu definitely has a common feel to it. Your standard “attack, defend, skills, items, escape.” There is a story only option that essentially lets you skip the battles, so if you’re less interested in the combat, this would be a good option for you.
As expected, you gain new, more powerful skills as you level up your characters. You also have the ability to level up your weapons through crafting. This is where one of my complaints with the game comes in. I honestly feel that crafting is an unnecessary mechanic and was only put in because it’s become so commonplace in games now. Even Animal Crossing has crafting, but it has purpose in Animal Crossing. It feels tacked on in Ara Fell. The weapons could easily be levelled up through combat use. You can also craft potions, but once again, it feels unnecessary when there are several shopkeeps spread throughout the game.
Before entering an area leading to a boss fight, the game prompts you with a “point of no return” warning letting you know that you will more than likely be encountering a difficult boss, allowing you to turn back and buy essential items, upgrade weapons and gear, or grind a little more to increase your characters stats. I really like this feature as it adds more to the accessibility of the game. It also allows you to continue forward while skipping the cutscenes to get straight into the boss battle, so if you’ve already fought the boss and lost, you don’t have to sit through all the pre-battle dialogue over and over again.
The dialogue in Ara Fell is top-notch. A lot of the conversations usually involve a lot of witty sarcasm being thrown back and forth between the two leads and even some between your party members and the random villagers. This and the amazing animation are my two main highlights of the game. The animation is wonderfully fluid for a 16-bit game. It brings me back to the Suikoden games on the original PlayStation.
The best way to describe Ara Fell is that it’s a very accessible and familiar JRPG. While it’s not as challenging, if you were a fan of the SNES era of RPG’s such as Final Fantasy VI (or III, depending on your region) and the like, then you will most likely find yourself enjoying this game. Unnecessary crafting elements aside, it’s not a bad buy at $14.99/£16.19.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 26/03/2020
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Stegosoft Games
Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Download link: eShop