A Gamers Love Letter to Video Games
The JRPG genre is one that is rich in so many classic titles, defining elements, plus memorable heroes and villains. It’s also a genre that has its fair share of tropes that fans know all too well. If you’ve played too many likes from The Legend of Heroes or Dragon Quest series then you know what I’m talking about. So when a title like Video Game Fables comes along to deconstruct the genre, gamers are in for a treat.
Video Game Fables is Matt Sharp’s love letter to the genre. It’s a homage to classic JRPGs while also wanting to deconstruct and parody the genre tropes. It succeeds at doing all of this and more. It’s a classic JRPG-style game while also a parody of it and the fantasy genre specifically.
A Different Fantasy Story
Players are introduced to a fantasy world in which everyone either knows their role or aspires for greatness. Princess Aru is not one of those as she is tired of playing the damsel in distress. When she decides to escape after a standard kidnapping, the entire world is turned upside down. Determined to save her father and the kingdom, she teams up with Nate (an aspiring hero) and Tator (the son of the local villain).
From a storytelling perspective, it really wants to take apart all the genre tropes. Everyone knows what their role should be but are opting to fight it. Princess Aru doesn’t want to be the damsel in distress, Nate doesn’t want to be a nameless NPC, and Tator doesn’t want to be a villain. At the same time, they do point out all the cliches and plot holes that are expected to be the genre norm. This doesn’t mean it rejects these cliches, it still embraces them. The story is self-aware and embraces them ironically. This doesn’t mean it rejects these cliches, it still embraces them. The story is self-aware and embraces them ironically.
Complementing the story and world is the soundtrack that knows how to set the tone. It’s the perfect mix of classical and modern that fits perfectly into such an experience. Overall; Sharp knows the genre and the fans all too well.
Going on an Adventure
Video Game Fables uses the classic gameplay but it’s set up in a way that is easy to learn (regardless of how familiar the player is with the genre).
Players will explore an ideal-sized world that is made up of different environments (all based on genre standards). There are points that allow the player fast travel but that is after activating them. This world is rich in secrets, loot, and of course enemies. Players could also upgrade their gear or buy new ones at the many shops in this world.
Combat is turn-based as players will select an action or an attack for each party member. During the player’s turn, they use an item or attack the enemy (using a standard or special attack). Each character has their own special skill set that they bring to the journey. After each battle, players earn XP that can be used to level up each character. It’s that simple and fun, which works to the games advantage. It wants players to be focused on the story, not grinding or side stuff.
However; gameplay is not limited to just the JRPG genre. There are moments that also borrow inspiration from the classics like Super Mario. To its credit, such moments have also been fleshed out instead of feeling like an unnecessary drag on the experience.
The Princess is not Here
The games only real issue is the use of voxel-style graphics. I understand that it wants to go for that 8-Bit look from back in the day. However, the voxel-style graphics don’t really convey that feeling. There are times when it does work to its advantage but a lot of times it doesn’t. This isn’t to say that visually it’s not appealing, it’s just not the right fit for such a game.
The Quest Continues
Matt Sharp loves JRPG’s and the classics, he wants you to know that while also making a treat for other like-minded gamers. The end result is a game that understands and parodies the genre in the most playful way possible. If you’re a JRPG fan then this is a must-play game for the laughs and the homages.
Video Game Fables is a homage to classic JRPGs while also wanting to deconstruct and parody the genre tropes. In doing has resulted in a fun experience that gamers will enjoy. This is truly a solid experience developed by one person.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
Disclaimer: Momiji Studios provided the game used for this review.
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