Pseudo 3D fighter Fantasy Strike releases on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch and boasts a different take to conventional beat-em-ups. Its creator Sirlin Games suggests that removing some of the barriers which prevent ease of access to newcomer players brings forth an entirely different fighting experience. There’s less to learn here, but enough for masters to pose tactical options against like-minded players. Looking at both camps then, is Fantasy Strike worth checking out?
We played the PC version and whilst at present has many features you might expect from a modern fighting game, some elements are absent for longer term play. The game still says it’s in Beta which means more content down the line. If this works for Capcom’s Street Fighter series then why not here.
To begin, solo players can choose from practice, learning, tutorial and various fights against the AI including an Arcade mode, survival and daily challenge. For those looking for local versus, then that features as well. Online play for those wishing to step beyond the sofa is an option to round things off.
Interestingly, before players learn the nuances of each character a handy learning section provides a developer narrated video explaining the ins and outs of each character. Very useful for those willing to learn, not so much for eager beavers just wanting to dive in and learn the hard way – if that’s a thing at all here.
A tutorial exist for those who want to learn the very basics with the character Grave (an easy to play typical ripped male character and master of the wind). The tutorial offers plentiful useful advice and doesn’t take up too much time. Alternatively players can jump-in to single matches versus the AI and just learn as they go along it’s that simple.
Perhaps then, the biggest differences here are a lack of massive combos to learn or even special moves requiring specialised inputs. There is no ducking or duck-blocking, the game discourages “turtling” (that’s sitting defensively in one corner) due to block damage and generally it comes across as quite watered-down. What this leaves then is a focus on timing, and understanding the differences between the 10 characters. This is apparent when avoiding throws as just one example. In traditional fighting games throw escapes take predicting your opponent’s move or cat like reflexes to counter. Here, players need only not touch the controls and automatically the throw escape or Yomi counter kicks-in. It’s a neat approach but still requires a bit of timing and knowledge of the opponent’s moves. Fighting games are all about reading the opponent or out-smarting them and the simplicity of the throw-escape is no exception to that rule no matter how simple the input.
At a core level, Fantasy Strike offers a competent fighting game that is easy to pick up and play. Offering players no need to refer to move-lists and generally presents very fast bouts. This all works in the game’s favour. The only niggle at this stage is a lack of unlockable content. It looks like alternate costumes will present themselves at some point, but not in the build available as of now.
Visually, Fantasy Strike offers bold and bright colours with solid animations and swathes of special effects. Very similar to some of Capcom’s games no doubt thanks in part to the developer being the Lead Designer of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix ( David Sirlin). Frame rate holds-up well and with the simple visuals means it should run well on various PC systems. Players can tinker with some options to tailor the experience somewhat. A minor gripe here would be some button icons need changing for those using non-Playstation controllers. Hopefully these will update sooner rather than later.
Audio works as you would expect, with tons of shouting out moves and bone crunching hits effects. The music isn’t bad either. Overall, the audio visuals are great quality here.
Looking at the online play for a moment and players can jump into casual or ranked play which obviously determines the level of competition. Naturally players level-up as they partake in fights offering some incentive to keep playing.
To wrap-up this review. Fantasy Strike is basic, there is no escaping that. However, the play is of a high standard and there is enough here to keep interest especially at high level when it’s so easy to win or lose. It’s great the game opens the doors for newbies and that in itself needs to be commended. So many fighting games place too much expectation of the player starting-out it can result in a frustrating experience. That’s not to say newbies can totally hang-out with accomplished players. Far from it. The bottom line is, here is a game with a relatively low-price of entry which looks and plays good. It offers some fun and games for newcomers looking to dip their toes into fighting games and those who want a serious game without too much complexity. Fantasy Strike delivers that making it a recommended game for anyone with an interest in fighting games.