Fantasy Life looks to be bad news for video game completionists. Not because it looks poorly made or because they won’t enjoy it, but because I’m afraid it might cost them their social life, job, and personal hygiene. Nintendo showed off the 3DS exclusive slice-of-life action RPG today at their Treehouse Live event, and it looks to be an absolutely massive, sprawling game that could take months to even begin to scratch the surface of. To understand the scope, there is approximately 21,000 pages worth of text in this game, which is an absolutely overwhelming amount of content. Good luck finishing this on a long plane ride.
Fantasy Life looks to be equal parts Animal Crossing, Monster Hunter, and Final Fantasy. The game is brought to us by Level 5, best known for the Professor Layton series and charming the pants off of you in every game they’ve ever made. Like any good RPG, it starts with you waking up in bed and eventually culminates with you saving the world. Maybe. If you can drag yourself away from the massive amount of side content the game waves in front of your face to keep you distracted. The little bit of story we did see was charming and well written, although it is hard to really get a good grasp of a 21,000 page RPG in a relatively few moments. It would be like reviewing Moby Dick after reading the first two pages. Still, if there is anything Level 5 knows it is how to breath life into text and we’re excited to see exactly what they have in store for us this time.
This is a game that bills itself as all about choice, and it is a promise the game keeps almost immediately. You can customize your character from the start, and while there aren’t as many options as you see in games like The Sims or Mass Effect, there is enough variety that you aren’t likely to see a lot of overlap between your character and your friend’s. You can also customize your room similar to Animal Crossing, although the scope of how much customization is allowed was not shown off enough to get a real feel for it. The diversity grows further once you actually get into the game and pick your first life class. There are twelve different life classes in total, each falling into one of three general categories. You have your standard fighting classes like paladins and mercenaries that are good for smashing enemies in the face when they look at you funny, crafting classes like blacksmiths and alchemists for those that like creating their own armor and potions, and foraging classes for people that really, really like going around and picking up rocks. Each class has their own life master to train them along the way and their own sidequests you can complete when you don’t feel like pushing forward in the main game.
The variety in classes will make each experience play out differently, but Fantasy Life doesn’t want you getting stuck on just one path. You can stick to one class for as long as you like, or you can dabble around in each and really see what the game has in store. At guild offices you can switch your current class out for another, but there is no penalty for switching classes and you get to hang on to all the skills you’ve already learned. The classes will play off of each other, so if you are playing as a blacksmith class and need a specific item to forge a piece of armor, being previously experienced as a paladin will make you a better fighter so you can go out and kill whichever enemy it is you need to smite. Then, you can use the item to forge the piece of armor to make you even better in combat. There is a lot of interplay between the classes, and you will find yourself going back to areas you already cleared out once you learn some new skills to collect certain things or access areas you couldn’t before.
The variety of classes looks really interesting, and the ability to switch back and forth between them without penalty will likely remove some frustration to the game, but there are some questions we have that we most likely won’t be able to answer until we get our hands on the game itself. For the most part the crafting classes look great, but each time you want to forge a specific item you are taken to a minigame like screen where you need to press a button at a specific time to get a higher quality item. While it does make it feel more like you are actually crafting the item, I could easily see this getting annoying after the hundredth time I’ve done it. Additionally, while jumping back and forth between classes does sound like fun, it does make it less likely I’ll want to start a new file once I’m done. It really isn’t so much which class is your character but which class is your character for now. Not so much a totally new experience each time as it is which order your experience is in. However, the game looks absolutely massive so this may not be an issue as one playthrough will likely have more than enough content to satiate your appetite.
The combat looks like your standard action RPG fare, but there is enough variety here to add an extra layer of complexity. You can dash around, use melee attacks, or use ranged attacks to tackle foes, and the game isn’t always nice about holding your hand along the way. Powerful enemies wait in certain areas, with your only hint that you shouldn’t be attacking them coming from just how little damage you are doing. Your character will grow in ways specific to how you use them, meaning your playstyle will alter your growth and that each character is likely to grow differently in specific ways. In one specific example they talked about, by using the dash skill repeatedly your character will become better at it, requiring a lower magic cost and allowing you to use it more frequently. The combat looks crisp and well executed, with different styles of attack better suited to different enemies to prevent it from becoming to repetitive.
The game also features some fairly meaty multiplayer content, allowing for friends to jump into your world and help you along the way. You can band together to tackle some more difficult foes, or one can go around and clear out all the enemies from an area while another focuses on collecting resources. Certain enemies will also drop bounties containing extra cash or rare items, and with a second person it makes it easier to defend the bounty while you try and bring it back to a location where you can cash it in. Very few games offer nice jump in and play cooperative RPG elements like this, and it gives you a chance to play through with a friend for as long or as little as you like.
Fantasy Life looks to be a huge, epic adventure or a nice, relaxing timewaster depending on how you want to play it. There is a lot to get your hands on around here, and you can get lost in combat or crafting or gathering or whatever your one particular weakness is. The amount of choices the game gives you are insane and when they were teasing it today they promised it was the sort of game you would have a very hard time to see all the way to completion considering just how much stuff is in it. Whether or not this promise is true remains to be seen, but if the game gives us even half of what it is promising Fantasy Life will be an experience you absolutely cannot miss. Your real life will get a whole lot busier when Fantasy Life releases this October.