A Lesson Learned In Video Game Fables

Tired of the damsel in distress in your fantasy games? So is Aru. Join her, Nate and Tator in Video Game Fables - an indie RPG available now on Steam.

RPG’s are bad news if you don’t have the time, but lucky me: it’s the summer holidays, so Video Game Fables gets to see the light of day. Unfortunately, there are a ton of games coming out all at the same time, all fighting for my attention. Elden Ring is still winning…

Still, that doesn’t mean Momiji Studios (solo dev, Matt Sharp) game isn’t worth a look. On the contrary, my ‘work’ pile of games to review isn’t your issue, dear reader, but mine. How does this fare? More importantly, what the eff is this game?

Things to consider if you can’t be arsed to read a few minutes of your life away:

  • Get past the lengthy intro and tutorials before assessing the game – we all have to walk before we can run. Even if you know how to play an RPG.
  • If you like pixel art/voxel-ish graphics and text bubbles that go ‘bloop bloop bloop’, you’ll love this.
  • A unique levelling system that boosts your party, not individuals.
  • Plenty of weapon types to equip to find your preferred playstyle.
  • Witty dialogue throughout, with tongue firmly in cheek.
Video Game Fables Review - Platform shoes
Platform shoes. Source: Screen capture

If you were to look around my work area for any clue of my tastes, you wouldn’t see anything that resembles this game. While I like RPGs (when there’s time), cute pixelated ones aren’t at the top of my list. And though the solo dev element pulled at my heart strings like a photo of a puppy in cosplay, the game won me over on its own merit – notably the humour and the protagonist’s aloofness.

Walls Are Meant To Be Broken

Aru breaks the fourth wall with such ferocity, you wouldn’t have thought it existed. She’s cynical, indifferent, brilliant… Being the damsel in distress does not wash with her, and she’s very clearly a capable person. After brushing off a would-be suitor, she’s imprisoned but promptly escapes off her own back, all the while her father, the king, sends for a hero to rescue her, only to end up imprisoned himself. The irony.

Anyhoo, Aru befriends some chums to form a party of three: the princess, Nate the chef, and Tator (Gator), son of the villain, and are off on a magical adventure. It’s all familiar stuff, so having to go through the tutorials was a bit of a nuisance as it was common sense. While somewhat entertaining, the intro did drag a little, and I was eager to get started. This coming from a cutscene fan, the pace was a little off that it took a bit to get into Video Game Fables.

However, playing on those walls, Video Game Fables rewrites the script – quite literally, as a ‘new’ villain emerges and changes the narrative. It’s up to our trio to correct her wrongness. A real word. Again, once those dialogue boxes are out of the way, the game shifts into classic JRPG territory with a decent-sized play area to explore, all the while managing those random encounters (which I love).

Hello, World

Though these encounters can often be avoided, you will find in some of the dungeon areas that you have to deal with them face-on, usually while you’re performing a platforming section. Unlike other RPGs, Video Game Fables has quite a few areas where jumping is key. These are usually fine, but there are a few moments where you can’t adjust the camera and will inevitably repeat a few sections from falling. It’s not rage-inducing, just mildly annoying in some areas.

Despite a few hiccups, Video Game Fables is very user-friendly, with an abundance of checkpoints disguised as teleports, and there’s never a moment where you’re looking for a save point. You can transport back to your base, stock up on potions and skills, grow a few plants, take a nap, and befriend a seal.

As one can expect, exploring the world of Video Game Fables is in your interest as you’ll unlock new materials for crafting, earn gold for potions and buffs, and, more importantly, levelling up. The levelling in the game is interesting as once you accumulate enough XP, you invest it in your party, automatically upgrading their stats. Of course, you can fine-tune individual abilities by equipping weapons and accessories that can be found, or bought, plus assign some specific skills. Let’s talk about combat.

Video Game Fables Review - A kiss from a rose
A kiss from a rose. Source: Screen capture

CRIT Commander

Video Game Fables CRIT hits are… critical in the game. It’s a simple system, and truthfully, I really liked it as it’s non-restrictive and allows you to manage your party better. Instead of mana, you’ll just need to perform a CRIT hit on an enemy to unlock your skillset. You can dismiss it if you like, or boost a standard attack and use it up, but these skills are vital in boss fights. You can learn these skills at your base, and then assign a slot using a little XP in the process. You can also ‘mod’ the base skills as well.

This also applies to weapons as you’ll need to locate gems throughout the world, or buy seeds, plant them at Castleton, and then get the local blacksmith to boost your weapons. I think I mentioned that there are a lot of weapons on offer, so you can experiment. They don’t change the animation set or anything, but they can either boost basic attacks or improve the chances of a CRIT. Admittedly, it did take a bit of grinding before the first boss to get to a decent level (and realise that the merchant sells armour – doh!), as you can’t unlock the improved weapons until beating the boss.

After a shaky start, Video Game Fables soon won me over. It’s not solely the humour that carries it, as take that element out (please don’t), and you have an enjoyable turn-based experience that doesn’t alienate gamers into shutting themselves off to the world so they can spend 100+ on a game with overcomplicated lore. This is to the point, entertaining, and in many ways, pleasantly addictive. Forget the rainforests for a bit, support an indie dev! Video Game Fables is available now on Steam. Link below.

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