Over the past week, I’ve ignored an unsettling amount of my actual life in order to play copious quantities of Fantasy Life, the new 3DS RPG from the masterminds at Level-5. If you’re looking for a colorful and lighthearted romp with hooks that sink in uncomfortably deep, then you might want to give this one a gander.
Here’s the thing about Fantasy Life: It’s a tough game to review quickly. I’m not one of those people who thinks you need to complete all 120 hours of an epic RPG in order to give it a fair shake in the review column but, at 20-something hours into Fantasy Life, I’m literally only scratching the surface of what this game has to offer. No, seriously, I’ve only just begun chapter two in the game’s campaign. Chapter two…Twenty hours.
So why is it taking me so long to play? Because I have a serious problem and Fantasy Life is like a drug dealer who happens to live right next door, instantly available and in possession of all the things that keep me coming back for more.
So, my options were simple. I could either be a good reviewer and haul ass through the campaign in order to get something out in a more timely fashion, or I could play the game as it was intended, at my own pace, and continue to enjoy the hell out of it. To be clear, I was not provided with a review copy of Fantasy Life, so (under no pressure to put a review online as quickly as possible) my desire to assess my experience so far comes purely from the fact that I don’t feel like enough people are talking about one of the best titles to hit the 3DS this year.
In Fantasy Life, the crux of the game lies in the Life system. For those of you familiar with pretty much any RPG on the planet, think of it as a class system that lets you swap between being a paladin, tailor, miner, angler, archer, mage, etc. There are 12 Life options in total, including four combat choices and eight gathering/crafting jobs. The great thing about Fantasy Life is that it’s genuinely built to be played however you see fit. You can spend your entire “Life” being a tailor and even skip out on all of the combat in the game, or you can bounce around willy-nilly, fighting monsters one minute and then crafting a cabinet the next.
Fantasy Life takes that Life system one step further, as the fruits of your labor are actually rewarded by the best gear and items in the game. Say you wanted to be a better mercenary, for instance. Instead of buying all of your gear, why not make it yourself? First, take on a Life as a miner and dig up all of the ore you’ll need to craft sweet suits of armor. Next, maybe you’ll decide to become a blacksmith in order to craft said gear yourself. After that, why not become a woodcutter in order to harvest timber, and then become a carpenter to craft even better weapons and, like, a really nice chair?