Fantasy Life Review: A RPG with real jobs, not job classes!

Fantasy Life Review: A RPG with real jobs, not job classes!

Venturing into the whimsical realm of Reveria is akin to stepping into a vibrant tapestry of fantasy and life's simple joys. Fantasy Life, a game that seamlessly marries RPG elements with the mundanities of everyday fantasy tasks, offers an experience that is as enchanting as it is engaging. From the thrill of battling colossal creatures to the serene moments of gathering resources or crafting exquisite items, this game captures the essence of living a fantastical life to its fullest. But does this vibrant world hold up across all its facets? Dive into our comprehensive review as we dissect the various elements that make Fantasy Life a beloved title for many, and explore if it truly stands the test of time. - Brighton

Battle System - 8.5

Fantasy Life has a good, engaging, and difficult battle system. While not as complex and thorough as other RPGs of the current era, the fights are just simply… fun! There are lots of unique creatures to do battle with, and the grand scale boss fights can last for absurdly long amounts of time. In fact, Brighton once was fighting Gigante, one of the bosses in the Ancient Ruins, and had been fighting it for almost two hours. He’d used over 300 potions. It was on 50% HEALTH. This wasn’t even the hardest boss of the dungeon. My mom decided that we were going to go see a movie, so Brighton just paused the game, plugged in his 2DS and hoped his progress would be saved. When we got back, he spent another two hours slashing away at the behemoth, until it finally fell. I’m positive he had weaker equipment than he should have, but still. He was also like eight years old, so that probably factored into it. But regardless, it took longer than it took me to beat Omega or Adamantoise in FFXV. That is insane. A lot of the strategy used in the combat in this game is to stock up on hundreds upon hundreds of potions to use while fighting tough bosses.

One of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of the battle system in this game is the Bounty system. After defeating a tough enemy, you trap it in some sort of cube-shaped cage and drag it around wherever you go. You can hold up to three of these, and they can take damage from nearby enemies. So, you must exercise caution after defeating a boss or else you might miss out on all the best riches and treasures from the fight.

However, some of the combat can be a bit lackluster at times. There isn’t a huge variety of moves to perform, and if you are playing as a Life other than the Paladin, Mercenary, Hunter, or Magician, the array of weapons available to you is pretty small. But, I mean, come on, if you are going to go slay a dragon, just take a quick stop at the Guild Office and somehow mystically morph your muscles and hand-eye coordination into those of Mike Tyson on a whim. As you progress in one of the fighting Lifes, you will gain new tactics to use in battle, but they are still pretty simple.

One of the best parts about this battle system is that you aren’t only fighting dragons, dinosaurs, elemental wraiths, and behemoths, you’re also fighting TREES. The Lifes of Woodcutter, Miner, and Angler involve kicking grass, catching bass, and excavating brass. Some of these encounters can be even more gut-wrenching and intense than the actual combat, and I love that. I love this game to death, and its battle system is one of the reasons I love it so much. - Seth

Well said, Seth! The battle system in this game is truly fun and rewarding, especially in the “battles” against trees, fish, and ore deposits. My biggest issue with this battle system is, as you said, it is simple and comes down to smart item management a little too often. While creating powerful equipment, useful potions, and fantastic recipes is fun, it can become a bit much at times to craft tons of useful items to take into battle, and instead, it feels like resorting to buying weak potions and spamming them is the quickest way to get into battle. Also like you said, there is a limited array of actual abilities to use, so again, it is more about item management and positioning. This is incredibly fun at first, but over time, the lack of new abilities makes the game feel a little style. Nonetheless, this game has a fantastic battle system like you said, but it isn’t one of the greatest battle systems of all time, especially with so many fantastic action RPGs on the market in the modern era. - Brighton

Customization System - 10

This game has one of the coolest job systems of all time—you don’t switch between job classes, but instead, you switch Lifes, which are essentially your typical 9-5 jobs in a fantasy world! This makes this game so full of Lifes (pun absolutely intended)! There’s three types of Lifes one can live: a harvesting life, a crafting life, or a fighting life. There’s three harvesting jobs: Miner, Woodcutter, and Angler. There’s five crafting jobs: Blacksmith, Carpenter, Tailor, Alchemist, and Cook. There’s four fighting jobs: Paladin, Mercenary, Archer, and Magician. All twelve of these jobs can be switched between at the guild office at any time, allowing the player the joy to go from zero to hero twelve times. While that may sound annoying, playing as each Life is so different that it feels just as fulfilling each and every time. Every class feels so unique, and they are all intrinsically connected in a way that every time you switch to a different Life, it connects with the Life you were previously playing as. You killed a huge Dragon as a Paladin? You can use its scales to make powerful armor with the Blacksmith to then use to upgrade your defense enough to kill a dinosaur with the Mercenary. You want to chop down the Sinister Tree and craft a Batastic Wand with the Carpenter to equip on your Magician? And then use that staff to kill the evil spirit Calamitus to get its Shadow Mana and weave up an Umbral Robe with the Tailor to have enough defense to go kill another evil spirit? Yeah, that’s how connected this game is, and it is phenomenal. The possibilities truly are endless, and all of these jobs come together to make a masterful amalgamation of meaningful combat and exploration that make the world of Reveria so alive and fun to explore. This system transcends the RPG norm, making an unforgettable experience that I am ecstatic to see return in its upcoming sequel. Currently, I’ve never played a game with a better job system than this! Not even Blue Dragon, Octopath Traveler II, and Bravely Default can rival this perfection of a job system. - Brighton

It’s wild how much you can customize your character in this game. Although it doesn’t affect gameplay, the ability to create your character like a Mii adds to the experience. The way that the twelves Lifes are all interconnected creates a fluid and enjoyable gameplay loop that will get you sitting on the couch with your 3DS plugged into the nearest outlet for hours on end. While you may think it would be tiresome going through tutorials for all the classes, fear not! You can skip the tutorials and get straight into the quests. All of the classes are super fun to play as (I personally am not a huge fan of the Alchemist or Wizard as much though, but that’s just because I’m bad). I agree, there are so many options for how to play this game, and no matter what you choose, you will have a very enjoyable experience. - Seth

Art & Graphics - 9

These are some of the best and most charming graphics on the 3DS. While I could do without the pixelated nature of the 3DS, the art itself is perfectly timeless, as shown in the upcoming Fantasy Life i that uses a similar style but with cleaner, Nintendo Switch graphics. This game’s graphics and art direction are impeccable over a decade later, and the kaleidoscopic colors and bright, cheerful environments make the game pop in a way many games can’t. What more could a person ask for than charming graphics in an even more charming game? - Brighton

Yeah, I really like the way the art was designed for this game. The character models are great, using a pretty unique style while making it look really good. The bosses appear fearsome, but not too much so as to not counter the lighthearted style this game has. In addition to this, the UI is also really nice looking, apart from the health and mana bars, which I think definitely could’ve been better. Overall, it’s a well-executed artistic style that goes along with the game’s nature. - Seth

Story - 5

Ah, man. This is where we have to get a little messy. The story in this game is… iffy at best. The campaign isn’t very coherent, and it seems more like a series of barriers to unlock new areas than an actual quest with a purpose that you want to go on. “Oh yay, I’m finally an Expert Paladin! Let’s go kill some more dragons!” And then you can’t go to the next area because you haven’t progressed in the story. And the last time you played the story mode was 2 years ago and you don’t know what’s happening. I mean, you wouldn’t really want to, as the story just isn’t very enjoyable. The overall plot involves destroying Doomstones and stopping shadow monsters, but it just doesn’t really make a lot of sense and isn’t an engaging plot. Another huge gripe I have with this story is the complete lack of a major antagonist. I understand that the developers didn’t want to center the game around combat, but I mean, how do you not have a final boss fight at the end of an RPG? I was quite disappointed when I completed the story and realized that there wouldn’t be a final boss fight to take down. However, the mini story sections of the Origin Island DLC are definitely better than the main game’s story. Fantasy Life was never meant to be a story-driven game, and while it isn’t appalling, the story here is not super great. - Seth

I think this is the only RPG I’ve ever played that might have been better without any story, and all of your points above are exactly why. It acts more as a barrier to entry of new locations than anything, and I am desperately hoping the upcoming Switch sequel has a much more engaging story to bring the Lifes together in a coherent way. Seeing a story about commerce or town-building or something that works to the strengths of the game would make this adventure have a much better story. Simply having a merchant story akin to Torneko Taloon’s story in Dragon Quest IV, Tressa’s story in Octopath Traveler, Partitio’s story in Octopath Traveler II, or a town-building narrative like in Suikoden or Ni No Kuni II would be so much better than the story found in this narrative. Another cool idea could be meeting the Creators of the Lifes and doing quests for them, kind of similar to something like Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns! However, the title of the next game “The Girl Who Steals Time” seems pretty promising, so I’m cautiously optimistic for the next title’s story. - Brighton

Locations - 10

The world of Reveria is one of the most fun, creative, stunning, and lived-in worlds I’ve ever witnessed in an RPG. Every area has so many collectibles, secrets, quests, recruitable characters, inspired enemies, and beautiful environments. From the starting area of Castel, to the oceanside town Port Puerto, to the desert kingdom of Al Majik, to the sky city of Terra Nimbus, the homey Elderwood Village, and the phenomenal Origin Island… and that’s just the towns. There are so many memorable dungeons, from Mount Snowpeak to the Elderwood to the Ancient Ruins to Cacto Cove and my personal favorite, Tortuga Archipelago, the dungeons in this game are full of items and enemies and fantastic bosses. I personally believe it would be stupid to give this category any lower than 10—these locations are just that fantastic. - Brighton

I completely agree. Every location is fleshed out enough to the point of me probably putting in 30 hours before even reaching the second town, Port Puerto. That might have been me just being really slow, but I enjoyed all that time hanging out around the first few areas of the game. Fighting all the bosses, capturing the bounties, and buying houses in all the available locations is a really fun part of this game, and that is what makes these locations so memorable. While some of them are a little bit underwhelming (looking at you, Lunares), there is a lot of fun to be had exploring all the amazing places in this game. - Seth

Music - 9.5

The legendary Uematsu is back at it again, and he brought us an upbeat and incredibly charming soundtrack! Most of the music sounds very goofy, but I’m having a hard time writing this section because all I want to do is just groove out to the desert theme. Some of my favorite tracks are all the battle tracks (amazing), the Ancient Ruins theme, the Great Plains theme, and… basically every other song. While it’s vastly different from most other JRPGs, Fantasy Life offers a great soundtrack that is awesome to listen to. - Seth

This game has such an interesting soundtrack, as you said! This soundtrack shows Uematsu’s sheer talent and flexibility in his music composition, as this soundtrack feels more reminiscent of Final Fantasy V than of his recent works. This soundtrack is impeccable, and while it isn’t my favorite soundtrack of his, it comes incredibly close. This game has awesome music, and it is one of those games that invokes nostalgia upon hearing it, even if there were no nostalgic memories attached to those songs. And when a soundtrack makes me feel that way? I know it is phenomenal. - Brighton

Characters - 7.5

This game has a really charming cast of characters! From the dynamic sisterly duo of Yuelia and Noelia, to the buff legend himself, Odin; from Magnificus, the hilarious wimpy fool, to the awesome royalty of the three kingdoms. From the twelve masters of Lifes to the cast of Origin Island, to the all-time great supporting character, Pam, the cast here is fun as heck. They are lacking all semblance of character depth outside of Yuelia and occasionally Pam, but, in the end, they are still a fun bunch of characters that fit perfectly with what the game sets out to be—a charming, carefree game where you quite literally live Life in a fantasy world. A Fantasy Life. - Brighton

Yeah, as much as I’m not a huge fan of games with only one playable character (and especially those you create, as they don’t really have personalities), I love how this game also gives you a vast array of supporting characters to join you on your journey. There’s like fifty of them, each with their own unique design and abilities. Yeah, they don’t have the epic character development you would see in a Tales game, but c’mon. The characters in Fantasy Life are most definitely good enough for the type of game that it is. - Seth

Sidequests - 10

I can’t think of any world where this game wouldn’t get a 10 in sidequests. Heck, the only reason this game is actually so good is because of the sidequests. Random people can give you sidequests, called Other Requests. There are 333 of them. Every life has about 75 challenges to complete. There are almost 100 Bliss sidequests, which can give you quality of life bonuses and even access to pets that will join your party! There are 63 Allies you can add to your party. There are 42 special items you can get from inputting passwords (not the coolest way to get things, but I mean, it’s still awesome). You also have all of the Creator Quests, which are awesome major sidequests that you can complete after reaching the highest rank in a Life. You can buy nine different houses and decorate them. On Origin Island, you can undertake the Trials of Time, Darkness, and Light, which are the ultimate tests of a Fantasy Life player’s strength. You can get quests from Pam, who will give you Lunares Coins, which can unlock at least 100 unique items. The sheer amount and quality of sidequests in this game is astonishing. I swear I put like 200 hours into this game, and I could easily put in another 100 more because I didn’t complete a single Creator Quest and only beat the Trial of Time. I also barely did any Other Requests. I am also still a Fledgling Magician. This game is so jam-packed with sidequests and I cannot fathom what life would be like if every JRPG had as great of sidequests as this game. - Seth

This game has the best sidequests of any RPG I’ve played. Yes, even above some of my favorite games of all time, including Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and Final Fantasy VI… all which have some of the best side quests of any RPG. This game is absolutely phenomenal in terms of its sidequests, and I am so hyped to jump right back into these types of side quests in Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time. - Brighton

Quality of Life - 9.5

My biggest qualm with this game’s playability is its limitation on exploration. Due to the story being extremely subpar for most of its runtime, the story constantly limits you from pursuing the game’s fantastic aspects like its locations, quests, and boss fights. I never thought I’d say this about an RPG, but I’d almost rather have not had a story and just have this be a slice-of-life adventure where you choose your own path. I don’t think that would’ve worked out so well, but the fact I feel that way is an unfortunate thing to be compelled to believe. Outside of that, some of the leveling requirements for the crafting jobs were obnoxious and having to level up running and sneaking was a little stupid, if you ask me. Nonetheless, ultimately, this game was mostly polished across the board. - Brighton

When the most annoying part of a game is having to use a little bit of MP to dash, you know it’s not a particularly annoying game. Yes, it is true that the story can get in the way of your blacksmithing, but the quests never take longer than like an hour, and, while they aren’t the best part of the game, they’re still fun. This game doesn’t have any balancing issues (apart from the story being easy if you get everything you can before doing it, but I think that’s a good thing because then you can get it over with faster), and it has lots of helpful things like storage upgrades and fast travel that will make the game that much more enjoyable. - Seth

The Verdict

Fun Factor: 10
Overall Score: 89%
Letter Rating: S+

If you just want to have a fun time and don’t care about experiencing a story that will make you tear up and question your life choices, then this is the game for you. However, it might do the latter by making you question why you haven’t been playing it already. Fantasy Life is no epic tale, but it’s a warm and fun game that will give you many hours of enjoyment. Heck, it might give you too many hours of enjoyment, because when I was about nine years old, I cared so much about my progress that I literally carried my cartridge around everywhere I went on vacation because our hotel was sketchy and I was so scared someone would break into our room and steal all my hard-earned stuff. Nine year old me didn’t realize something crucial, however. Fantasy Life save data is stored on the 3DS’s SD card. Anyways, that’s enough rambling. Play this game. - Seth

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Fantasy Life (3DS)

Primary Version: Fantasy Life (3DS)