If any genre is a little lacking on Nintendo Switch, it’s RPG’s of the non-roguelike variety. There’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Skyrim, I Am Setsuna, Cat Quest, and now Lost Sphear; it’s a high-quality list, but a short list nonetheless. Fantasy Hero ~unsigned legacy~ from Arc System Works aims to alleviate that void a bit with an anime-inspired roleplaying game about restoring a broken world.
Fantasy Hero ~unsigned legacy~ caught my eye due to its visual style. Characters have thick black outlines and huge eyes, making them look like they were plucked straight from an anime. However, much like Romancing SaGa 2, there are clashing visual elements, particularly with menus that look like they came from an RPG Maker project. Even more strange are mission update notifications, which appear under the map in red text with no background.
This isn’t a traditional globe-trotting type of roleplaying game. Fantasy Hero is more closely related to Action-RPG’s like Diablo or Monster Hunter, where players accept a multitude of quests from a hub world; however, the hub world in Fantasy Hero is tiny and those quests are filled with unsatisfying hacking and slashing.
There are a couple different types of quests, but the two most important ones are Main Quests and Side Quests. Main Quests are larger and further Fantasy Hero‘s forgettable story (thankfully, cutscenes can be skipped) while Side Quests are smaller and generally require players to defeat a certain number of enemies. It should be noted that some Side Quests need to be completed in order to unlock new Main Quests, which essentially blur the lines between the two.
Sadly, Fantasy Hero isn’t a roleplaying game about exploration or adventure, despite what the use of “fantasy” in its title might imply. At worst, quests are linear and send players on a straight path to the next goal; at best, quests may allow you to walk in a loop around a small area as you look for 20 creatures to kill. There’s a lot of grinding in Fantasy Hero, and it’s nowhere as satisfying as in Darkest Dungeon. The grinding in Fantasy Hero comes in the form of uninspired monster-slaying Side Quests or Main Quests that drag out for far too long.
You’re given the option of four different characters at the start of the game, including a dual-pistol wielding birdman. Naturally, I chose the birdman, thinking the ranged gameplay would be a lttle like Diablo III or Torchlight 2. Unfortunately, the combat in Fantasy Hero is really slow paced for all of the characters, and it’s simply boring with the ranged character. You’re given a certain number of shots before you need to reload (and you have unlimited ammo so the reload requirement is only there as an annoyance), but most enemies won’t be defeated in one go. You’ll have to run away, reload, shoot, run away, and repeat until the enemy or group of enemies are defeated.
The melee characters play worse, surprisingly. Hacking and slashing is slow and clunky, and it’s easy to get swarmed by monsters over and over again. The birdman, as boring as it is to play, is actually the best character in Fantasy Hero because you’ll be able to beat the game with him, at least.
There’s quite a bit to do here for people that love grinding and tikering with their characters, though. Back at the hub world you’re able to upgrade your equipment with materials found on quests and, to my surprise, new weapons you equip actually look different on your character (the sword-wielding hero gets some pretty sweet looking swords, for what it’s worth). There’s also a lengthy skill tree system that you can upgrade and activate on quests with the trigger buttons. Again, the birdman was the best because he gets a skill that literally allows him to fly over every enemy.
Mileage may vary on the character customization side, though; if you don’t enjoy the core experience in Fantasy Hero then there’s not much point in spending time on your character. I tried to do as few grindy missions as I possibly could, and only swapped my weapons for more powerful ones and only used a few different skills.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Fantasy Hero ~unsigned legacy~ was provided by SC Media.