Fantasy Strikes simplifies fighting games to its basics but teaches you the player mentality that can be used for any game in the genre.
This new fighting game finally heads to consoles after almost a year of being out on Steam and seems to be a great addition to the genre.
How can a fighting game with only ten characters hold up to the massive rosters of modern fighting games? We’ll find out just that in this review.
Fantasy Strikes features a tournament with unique fighters coming together in a friendly competition.
The reason for all of these characters gathering to fight is all because of Rook. Garus Rook, more commonly known as just Rook, created this Fantasy Strike fighting tournament to unite the people in this realm. This premise is somewhat present throughout the arcade modes and there isn’t a story or campaign but there’s plenty of options of how to practice it’s nice to see a fighting game where the story isn’t filled with gore or overly epic setting that involves the fate of the world.
Arcade mode does give the opportunity to flesh out the backstory of the fighters. Each character receives a short cutscene in the beginning of their arcade mode which gives some context about who they are and why they’re fighting.
You have DeGrey fighting to end injustice after being cursed with immortality, Valerie fighting to rescue her lover, and others fighting for injustices in the realms that they come from. This game takes place in a fantastical world but has some social issues that affect several characters on the roster which I found to help bring this world to life.
As you start the game, you are greeted by Master Midori, a dragon-morphing sensei who walks you through one of the best tutorials I’ve seen for a fighting game. It covers movement, attacks, combos, grabs, and the special combat mechanic, the Yomi Counter. This mechanic is the first signal showing players the virtue of patience. If a player is grabbed by an opponent while they are not holding any of their controls, the grab will face and the opponent will take damage instead. So watch out button mashers.
Learning this mechanic really highlighted the value in doing nothing but also the risk since it leaves you vulnerable to attacks.
Once you beat the tutorial you are taken to the main menu and explore the few options.
The types of play are Online, Solo, Local Play, Practice and two options that I would highly recommend to all players: The tutorial and the Learn option. While you’re forced to pass the tutorial in the beginning, it’s a nice tool if you ever get rusty with the game or want someone to try it before jumping into the game. The Learn option plays a quick video that teaches you about a specific character. I enjoyed watching these when I wanted to try out a new character and understand their playstyle a bit more or was facing an opponent who I did not understand.
I really appreciated the words that appeared on screen which would say things like “Jumpable” to let you know you could have avoided a command grab by jumping away. These indicators helped me better prepare for an attack and adapt more efficiently.
This mode starts you with a still image cutscene featuring the character you choose, six fights with Master Midori as the final opponent for all the ones I’ve tried, and an ending cutscene. These were okay and a definite challenge if you try them right after you start the game though not so much once you hit intermediate. Arcade mode serves more to see how characters might be connected to one another and a glimpse at their personality and values.
I’d love to see a more personalized version of this for each character but we have currently is fine.
Four Survival Modes
A rapid-fire series of opponents with no loading times between them.
They get stronger as you go and you can choose how many opponents you want to attempt.
An endless survival mode that you can only play once per day. When connected to online you can see how you do compared everyone else that day. It’s a nice challenge that gives you an idea of your general skill at the game compared to other players.
Every character has their own spotlight video, a narrated tour by game director David Sirlin. Each video goes though that character’s moves and what their general gameplan and strategy is about.
There aren’t any collectibles here besides completing the survival challenges or finishing each arcade mode. All of which center on the core fighting game aspect so you can improve as a player.
Digesting the Soup
If there’s one word to describe Fantasy Strike, its streamlined.
The tutorial spells it all out for you. Once you move to the right, left, and jump, you’ve learned all the movements in the game. This is one of the many steps this game has taken to be new player friendly since there isn’t a dash, crouching, or run for characters. So players don’t have to learn a whole set of moves other than directional inputs. That means no learning about differences between a characters dash attack, crouching attack, or run attack.
Characters have their HP divided into segments so players don’t have to worry about complex damage calculations that you would find in other modern games. And its visual design is quite intentional as well. You can see outlines on characters that are color coded to tell you when they have armor, when they take a hit, perform a succesful block, or will parry your attack. This uniformity contributes a lot to understanding the game because every character follows those rules.
To further support new players in learning, there’s transparency in how moves have priority with visuals effects that are standard for all characters. Seeing a blue outline on a character indicates
As for the playable characters, there are ten in the game and it feels like a good amount. While other fighting games may boast having rosters of over 70, Fantasy Strike strives for simplicity and a focus on quality over quantity. It makes sure that they all feel unique and distinct from one another which is more feasible with less characters. The health bar’s pre-determined segments also help you zone in on the basics of attacking and blocking instead of calculating damage as you might in other games.
Understanding this approach makes the playstyle all about patience.
Final thoughts: While I’m not a master of fighting games and know how they often have a reputation of being elitist socially, I see Fantasy strike as an opportunity to level the playing field for veterans and beginners because of the lack of complexity. I’m excited to see what Fantasy Strike evolves into as it transitions to consoles.
A review code for Fantasy Strike was provided by Serlin Games for the purpose of this review.