Review: Fantasy Strike (PC, Early Access)

A fight worth starting

Developer: Sirlin Games
Publisher: Sirlin Games

Genre: Action, Fighting, 2D Fighter
Platforms: PC
Rating: T for Teen
Price: $19.99

Fantasy Strike is a 2D fighting game by Sirlin Games that boasts simple controls and original characters to cater to both experienced gamers and beginners alike. It originates from a game called Yomi, which is a fighting game played with cards. The game is in Early Access, but you can still buy it and play it now. One can also donate to Sirlin Games through Patreon to support the development. The game is projected to be complete by late 2018.

One of the most fascinating characters…a diplomat who is assisted by a ghost! Ghostly punches of justice!

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: The only thing spiritual about this game is one of the combatants fights with a ghost at his side, using her to grab and subdue his foes.

Violence: The game is naturally violent since it is entirely a fighting game. It pits one against another to see who is the better fighter. There is no blood or goreonly animated punches and combos.

Sexual Themes: There is one particular fighter whose bosom is exaggerated and her dress is a bit revealing. Other than this, there is no explicit or mature content.

Fire versus Wind

Review

Fantasy Strike is a simple fighting game with currently eight different fighters with eight completely original fighting styles. From characters who shine via ranged attacks to others who destroy their opponents up close, there is a style for everyone. But while Fantasy Strike boasts an easy control arrangement, it is quite different from other fighting games in that each character has a slotted life gauge. Other differences include the fact that some characters fight better when moving away from enemy and the ability to counter (the game calls this a “Yomi Counter”) when your character is standing still. Do these major distinctions make or break the ambitious game called Fantasy Strike? It is a curious mashup Sirlin Games has put together, and so far, I would argue that it works, but there is room for improvement.

Upon starting up the game, the menu immediately gives an Overwatch feel to it. Characters from the game appear on the screen and strike tough poses while you navigate the small menu. Even one of the characters reminds me of Tracer a bit by how she stands and poses. Furthermore, when a character levels up, the player earns a loot box which is exactly what it sounds like. Loot boxes contain a new skin or color. Sound familiar?

Setsuki the teenage ninja

Despite its various nods to Overwatch, Fantasy Strike boasts an original cast of eight fighters, soon to be ten once the game is complete: a sensei who can transform into a dragon, a young teenage girl training to be a ninja, or a bird-loving rock giant; the characters alone are fascinating and fun. Their mannerisms reflect on their fighting styles, making certain fighters better for close combat while others are better with ranged projectiles. For example, the ninja girl, Setsuki, moves fast and her attacks will prove to be successful if done quickly. Another fighter, Geiger the precise watchmaker, fights mostly using zoning techniques, and performs better from a distance.

Some characters have moves that are invulnerable to interruption. All you can do is make sure you’re far enough away to avoid taking damage!

In fact, the fighting is the best part about Fantasy Strike. In many ways, it feels easy, but if you try to button mash your way to victory, you will come out frustrated.Those who have played Marvel vs. Capcom know how easy it is to button mash and even defeat a more knowledgeable opponent this way. In Fantasy Strike, this won’t work because some moves lose their effectiveness when done repeatedly. For example, Jaina the fire archer can perform an invulnerable fiery punch to an enemy to deal one slot of damage, but in doing this, she deals one damage to herself. Other characters seem to have moves that are way too powerful, like Rook’s suplex attack which deals two damage every time (so don’t stand right next to him!). But then, the game balances that out since those moves are usually slow and give the opponent time to retreat.

Each character has specific moves for certain advantages, forcing you to pause and look at all the moves a character can do. None require quick button combinations, but some do get more powerful if done in combination with other moves! For example, Grave the wind warrior has the ability to make a powerful wind blow either against his foe or towards himself for a short amount of time. Once he does this, his projectiles become even more effective, becoming bigger, faster, and harder to dodge. It is cool features like these that make the game even more fun and bring the player back again and again to master techniques. As I stated before, the fighting is easy, but to be able to understand what your character does and their purpose is where expertise comes in to play. Once the player does that, they can dominate the ring.

Geiger is hard to play with at first, but well worth the time investing in learning his style.

One of the only gripes I have with Fantasy Strike is the fact that it feels cheap and unfinished. It’s understandable since it’s in early access, but at times I feel that the characters designs could have been done better. The characters are cell-shaded and sometimes get a little buggy with their movements. Also, matchmaking takes too long. I’m not sure if it is because not too many people are playing or if there are few servers, but I waited for an average of 4-5 minutes to play online. They boast of online play, but hopefully it will be better later on down the road.

The soundtrack is enjoyable and the environments are cool. The tunes are quite catchy and some sound very Southeast Asian while others sound like your typical fighting game. Synthesizers and electric guitars reign supreme in the background as you beat your opponent to a pulp. You can listen to a sample of the music here. There are also cool character theme songs, like “Geiger the clock maker’s.” The maps are well-designed and fit each character’s theme. For example, Jaina’s fight takes place in a pub, making it out to be a bar fight. Some great detail was taken here and it shows.

The Panda and the Fish are not available yet, but will be in the near future.

While the gameplay is the best and strongest part of the game, I wish there was more. They boast of a “deceptively easy fighting game for everyone,” which is true, and I get that they feel this is a strong point to base their market on. But at this point the game is only good, not great. A big part of the magic of fighting games is getting down and dirty with it and learning those crazy combinations each character can do. While yes, it is easy to get into and to play, complexity is a beautiful thing and I’m hoping for more of that once we see the finished product. 

At a price of $19.99, Fantasy Strike is well worth it. The characters are enchanting and the fighting is engaging. The online and art style are a bit lacking, but it’s not bad enough to ruin the game. The fact that Sirlin Games states that supporters may need to pay for the content released in the future is a bit worrisome, since the current price seems reasonable. The most I would pay at this point is only $10 more and I would expect two new characters and various skins. That being said, I recommend Fantasy Strike. I personally had a lot of fun playing and I believe everyone would enjoy it. It’s easy to play since it’s compatible with most controllers such as a Dualshock, a Duke, or any other joystick or PC-compatible device. Whether a beginner or veteran, you will have a blast.

The Bottom Line

Fantasy Strike does everything right, creating a fighting game for all levels of expertise. The techniques, personalities, and styles will bring players back for more.

 

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John Campbell

Based in San Diego, California, John enjoys working, writing, eating with friends and family, and gaming - both board games and video games. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities, he currently works in IT, but hopes to one day become a full time college professor and writer. His recent favorite games include Persona 5 and NieR: Automata.

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