Everyone has a wish in life. Normally, we have more than one and that made it extremely difficult to pick what my true desire in life was when Fantasy Life asked me at the beginning of the game. They didn’t just give five options to pick from either. No, they gave a massive list that ranged from small to large wishes that took me five minutes to decide on it. This was partially due to the long and very welcome list, but also because it was making me think about what I really did want out of life. Already, this cute game had me thinking about very serious things, but as I played the game, it felt very right to have such a question at the beginning of the experience.
Fantasy Life is a game of doing. The great part is that you get to choose what it is you do and how long you want to do it for. Normally a game will give you multiple classes to pick from, but you’ll have to start a whole new playthrough if you want to experience something like another class. In most cases, I struggle to decide on the first class I want to be because I am not sure if I will go through the game a second time. Even though I did spend a few minutes deciding in Fantasy Life, I knew that the initial choice didn’t weigh as heavy as some other games. In Fantasy Life, there are twelve choices of a Life to pick from, but you can take all twelve throughout the course of one playthrough if you want. I started out as a Blacksmith, became a Miner to fuel my crafting, and then used my crafted weapons and armor to become a mighty Paladin. I still haven’t touched all twelve classes just yet, but the fact that the option is there makes it a great part of this game.
Fantasy Life does have a story, but it isn’t one that is going to grab you and have you coming back eager to see how it plays out. The one thing that made it worthwhile for me was the dialogue, especially from your little butterfly friend. Quite often, the dialogue made me chuckle and revel in it’s cleverness. Other than those moments, though, the story isn’t what you’ll be telling your friends to buy the game for. What you will be telling them is that they will never run out of things to do. While there are quests for the main story that you can do, there are also specific quests for the Life you are currently living. For example, as a Paladin, you may have quests that ask you to go to a certain area and kill a particular type of enemy (some of which may only show up at nighttime). You will be given multiple quests that you can complete one at a time or all at once and then you will return to your particular trainer for that Life. You are then given stars based on the difficulty of the quest, which will help you rank up that particular Life. While you do have an overall level, each Life also has it’s own level as well, such as “Adept” or “Novice”. The awesome part is that each upgrade you get from one Life will roll over to all the others. If you level up and get +2 Dexterity, that isn’t just for the one particular Life, but for all of them. The same goes for skills such as being able to use a longsword. As a miner, you can only wield a dagger at the start, but leveling up as a Paladin will give you the ability to use a longsword as a Miner as well. Being able to combine each Life in such a way is great because even when you are leveling up a particular Life, you are actually making each other Life that much stronger.
Customization is something I always love seeing in a game. Sometimes, games give so many choices that the customization process can take me half an hour without even realizing it. Others offer customization, but give you few choices that don’t seem to differ enough to even make it worth while to spend time on it. Like you’d expect, Fantasy Life sits much closer to the former than the latter. While you may not be able to do things like change the height of your cheekbones or extend your chin to the exact spot you want, Fantasy Life boasts an impressive amount of choices. I expected to see only a few faces and hairstyles, but was given a much larger list. While you may only be given six initial faces to choose from and a few body types to settle on, you are also given 48 hairstyles (and 40 colors), 54 eye types (and 30 colors), the ability to make certain things like eyebrows larger or smaller, and six voices to pick from. This makes complete sense in a game called Fantasy Life, and I’m glad to see the customization here. Not only are there initial choices when making your character, but you are also given multiple homes to choose from (which you will pay with through Dosh, the currency), which you can decorate how you see fit. You can move around each piece of furniture, change the wallpaper and floor, and even have multiple pets waiting for you to come home after a long day of making swords or killing Bandits. On top of that, you can dye furniture and clothing certain basic colors, giving your home and self a unique look that you can then show off in co-op mode.
Not only is this game great, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention just how cute Fantasy Life is. From your friendly butterfly companion, running like you’re in Naruto, or riding a turtle, the game refuses to let you find it as anything but cute. The graphics work perfectly for how the entire game feels, and the music, by Nobuo Uematsu, adds to the charm and fantasy in the world of Reveria. Be prepared to face enemies you may not even want to slay like the Spooky, a chubby ghost that looks like it just wants a hug. The main negative thing I ran into would be the repetitive nature. While the combat can change depending on your current Life, the actual encounters can grow pretty stale. While the quests differ for each Life, they sometimes feel fairly familiar, especially if you go from one crafting Life to another. Regardless of the often repetitive nature of the game, the cuteness, customization, music, and the massive amount of time you can put into each Life makes Fantasy Life a clear contender for my favorite game of the year.