Video Game Fables is an RPG by one-man developer Momiji Studios, previously responsible for the Lucid Awakening series of games. Developer Matt Sharp brings us a light hearted and, would you look at that, unique experience in roleplaying. Does it keep its promises or just fall flat on its fable butt?
Platform : [PC]
Genre : RPG
Release Date: July 2022
At first glance, one might be forgiven in thinking Video Game Fables does not look like the most polished of games. Said feeling is reinforced during the non-interactive introductory sequence where we get to meet the princess and other members of our party. Limited animations and no music made me feel a bit of uneasiness. I really could not shake the feeling that it all felt a little unfinished. Still, with consistently humorous dialogues and a unique look, it is entirely possible to forget the unpolishedness and enjoy what the game has to offer.
Fables opens with our princess who is being bored to death by the usual speech of “evil wizard number #3”. Thus, she decides to veer off the script and, instead of getting kidnapped, runs away. This will be the start of our adventure: taking back our rightful place in the kingdom. Interestingly, the adventure takes place in a video game world which has not been not visited by a player in years. You can bet your fable ass there will be many occasions to poke fun at classic RPG and video game tropes. Can you say Paper Mario with pixels rather than paper?
After meeting the three members of our team (princess Aru, young hero Nate and crocodile Tator), it’s time to learn the basic mechanics. Despite first appearances, there is a fully featured RPG here to enjoy. Starting out, we’ll have the opportunity to buy equipment, weapons (kindly offered for free) and to rest at the inn, along with saving and teleporting to future places of interests. Once we’re armed, shielded and appropriately rested, we can venture out in the open.
The open world definitely brings back memories of exploring the castle grounds in Super Mario 64. Hopefully that reference does not date us too much. It won’t be long before we stumble into enemies, which on the map move around like huge purple toxic farts. To avoid being reduced to pixelated carcasses, we’ll do battles in turns. Each chosen action will cost one or more turn, shown clearly on a timeline. As can be expected, it is possible to both use ordinary weapons and spells, which might also have effects such as restoring healing points.
Spells can only be used once the critical meter has been filled, which is done simply by successfully landing blows on an opponent. The battle system is pretty solid overall, but even more interesting is the levelling up system. I can’t think of many other games which allow you to both level up and also take away levels, whenever we wish to do so. If we want to reallocate experience points, we can just take away a level and readjust our team appropriately.
Basically, XP is not only used to level up but also to unlock special attacks and powers, augment weapon proficiency and so on. Despite the lack of fanfare when levelling up, the system is pretty in-depth and allows all players to tailor their team exactly the way they’d want. That’s what we, in the biz, call “good game design”.
There are also other features that need to be mentioned, like the clock that rewards speedy combat decisions by improving power. The special attacks are also quite interesting to look at as, in typical Mario & Luigi RPG style, they are quite inane in their own way: from our warrior donning a chef’s hat and a steel pan to pummel enemies to our princess going all “Yass Queen” and sitting on the throne before coming down hard on enemies’ heads.
I mentioned the lack of music in the intro and, indeed, in the game there seems to be little to hear except what I assume to be several tracks of stock music. Graphically, Video Game Fables presents big pixelized sprites and simple 3D graphics which will not tax your computer in any way. They will not turn heads, but do their job in presenting a simple “3D world” that just awaits exploration.
Despite some rough edges, Video Game Fables turned out to be quite the solid effort by a one-man indie developer who needs no publisher. While it won’t blow away anyone’s mind with Squaresoft levels of orchestral soundtrack or eye-popping graphics, it is definitely easy to appreciate the care Sharp put into his game, which is still currently being updated and patched at least once a week.
It’s definitely recommended for anyone looking for a lighthearted roleplaying romp that also allows quite a bit of tweaking characters and fighting style.
The review was made with a review key made available by the developer. Video Game Fables is available on Steam.
Video Game Fables: A lighthearted RPG which will please fans and those looking for something different to play. It lacks a bit of polish, but it makes up for it with solid combat and levelling up systems. – Voxel Smash Staff