Consider this another “Mobile Game That Is Actually Good Alert.” Over the last few days I played through a little action adventure game called Fairune on my iPhone. It’s probably somewhere between Zelda: Link’s Awakening and what I imagine the Ys games to be like (I haven’t played them).
It’s free through ad support with no in-app purchases and I think it originally came out back in 2009. But first, let me talk about how I actually discovered this game.
For some reason upon starting a Google+ account I got invited to some Japanese pixel art group. I finally decided to take a peek after a while and remembered why I hate looking at people’s random pixel art: I always end up wishing I could play actual games made from that pixel art, games I know will never exist. Well, one person on there shared a piece that was for an actual game. Playing it ended up giving me a surprisingly well-put-together experience for something I could play leisurely on my phone.
Fairune is a game designed by people who actually understand what makes exploration appealing in action adventure games. It follows some of the same philosophies as Shadow of the Colossus or more appropriately Dark Souls by letting you stumble around to discover the world for yourself. The game gives you maybe two or three legitimate tutorial messages at the beginning, and from there pretty much leaves you to solve the puzzles that fill the small world yourself.
There’s not much of a storyline or deep lore to be found here, but Fairune presents what it does have with a real sense of mystery. The game gives you just enough visual and functional cues in the environment for you to figure things out if you think hard enough as you slowly unlock more and more of the world.
The core interface is, in my opinion, a smart compromise between the touch screen input and the interface of the old school games Fairune is trying to emulate. Like a lot of people, I don’t like virtual directional inputs, and that’s what Fairune relies on for movement, but it devotes the whole third or so of the screen to an opaque HUD including the virtual D pad and two buttons. Surrounding the actual game screen with an ornate frame creates a sort of “virtual Game Boy” look where your thumbs don’t cover any pertinent information.
For combat you pretty much just run right into enemies. Enemies slightly stronger than you or weaker die instantly, taking a small bit of your HP and giving you a bit of experience. Weaker enemies provide no experience. Essentially, you can play the whole game just manipulating the virtual D pad with one hand.
Basically, what I like about Fairune is that it successfully combines the virtues of console and handheld adventure games with the accessibility of mobile gaming. It’s sort of a micro-Link’s Awakening.
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