Fantasy Life Review (3DS)


Developers: Level-5, 1-UP Studio

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Release Date: October 24th (North America)

Fantasy Life is all about choices. The game encourages you to select a job, or Life, that best suits your style of play. You can opt to go the adventurous route of a Paladin (your basic warrior class) or Hunter (rogue class) or enjoy the leisurely minutiae of a Tailor or Cook. They’re all fine classes and if you don’t like the one you choose at the beginning of the game, you’re free to go to the Guild Office and try out a new one.

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Don’t worry, though, any progress you’ve made in one Life will still be there should you feel the desire to switch back.

Once you’ve finished up the prologue and have the chance to test out other Lives, I recommend obtaining licenses for all of them. It’ll take some time to go through the introductory phases of the other 11 – thankfully, you can skip each tutorial and earn some easy money – but it’s well worth it in the long run for efficiency’s sake.

Fantasy Life begins, though, with creating a character. I’m pretty finicky when it comes to character customization. I was honestly expecting only a few options here and there when creating my avatar, but the abundance of choices available is really impressive. You start off by choosing a male or female character, which leads to five body types, six face shapes and ten realistic skin tones.

You can then customize your character’s head with 30 different mouths, multiples noses and ears, 48 hairstyles and 54 sets of eyes that come in 40 unique colors. You can also choose from six voices, which are really just grunts because your character is a silent protagonist, but it’s nice to have the option.

Most of the exposition comes from a butterfly you meet early on, aptly named Butterfly. Unlike most fairy-like companions, Butterfly is a bit sassy and very inquisitive. As she asks other more knowledgeable NPCs plenty of questions, you learn about the world of Reveria through her.

Another nice change of pace is that you have control over the game’s, well, pace. Butterfly will make suggestions on what to do next, but you won’t be constantly bugged about it. Most of the time, no matter how urgent your current mission is, you can take your time and literally go fishing for a while if you’re so inclined. Fantasy Life is all about doing what you please.

Get a Life

After putting the finishing touches on your character, you can choose one of 12 unique Lives:

Paladin – This class offers access to swords and shields and an HP boost.

Mercenary – This class is a bit slower than the Paladin, but you get access to higher attack power with two-handed weaponry, plus an HP boost.

Hunter – This class has much lower power than the others, but the bow and arrow combination lets loose attacks more often. Plus, you get access to status effects.

Wizard – This class grants strong elemental magic like fire, water, wind and earth. You cast from your automatically replenishing SP pool, so there’s really no downside to this Life.

Woodcutter – You get an ax for cutting down specific trees strewn through Reveria for the purpose of gathering wood. This Life works in tandem with the Carpenter class.

Carpenter – A useful crafting class that lets you build items to furnish your home.

Miner – You receive a pickaxe for collecting ore from various deposits. Another gathering class, this Life works well with a crafting class like the Blacksmith.

Blacksmith – This Life allows you to craft weapons and armor, the benefit of which should be self-explanatory.

Angler – With a fishing rod you’re able to catch fish in certain locations, which you can then use as a Cook.

Cook – This Life is useful for concocting helpful items, but not much else.

Alchemist – Like the Cook class, this Life lets you combine items to brew various potions. Other than, it’s pretty useless, especially in battle.

Tailor – This Life lets you sew various clothing and accessories that boost certain attributes. Plus, the apparel you make is more aesthetically pleasing than the basic clothing available.

My biggest disappointment with Fantasy Life comes with the implementation of the five crafting Lives (Carpenter, Cook, Alchemist, Tailor and Blacksmith). Each one shares the same mini-game mechanic, which boils down to some combination of holding down the A button, repeatedly mashing the A button or pressing the A button at timed intervals within a brief time limit.

This mini-game is used for making anything, whether it’s a dagger, a sofa, an HP potion, grilled fish or a skirt. Considering Fantasy Life is a 3DS game, not using the touchscreen to, say, make patterns for clothing or to chop up ingredients for a stew (Cooking Mama has been doing if for years!) just seems like a missed opportunity.

Unfortunately, staying within the confines of any of those classes will get old fast, so trying out other Lives is highly recommended. Besides, sticking to a single Life will limit what you can do out in the field, so having each Life available at the outset means more options. For example, if you also have the Woodcutter license you can still cut down trees even if you are playing as a Hunter. Multitasking like this makes leveling up your Lives much quicker.

Each Life has specific challenges you must complete in order to advance within a particular class. They rarely amount to more than “do something X amount of times,” but it’s a natural way of teaching you new moves. Plus, it helps avoid making you feel like you’re grinding. Having licenses for multiple Lives would make remembering those objectives difficult, but an in-depth checklist helps keep things manageable.

Having access to all Lives is also helpful for taking on the many sidequests NPCs offer. You can take on 30 sidequests simultaneously and, awesomely, the rewards for some sidequests fulfill the mission requisites for others. Completing these missions awards you with relatively rare items, experience points and plenty of money.

Just a Day, Just an Ordinary Day

The third leveling up aspect to watch out for is a mechanic called Bliss. You accrue Bliss by progressing the story, making money, trying out different Lives and achieving new titles within those Lives. Filling your Bliss meter kind of just happens and when it does, you get presents! These gifts generally make the game more convenient (like access to larger storage or animal companions who can fight alongside you in battle) or are just fun (like access to new hairstyles or the ability to play music in your home).

Fantasy Life plays like some odd combination of Animal Crossing and Ragnarok Online.

You can take on daily chores, crafting clothes to dress your character or building furniture to decorate your ever-expanding home. You can venture into battle where the creatures are naturally grazing the land (no random encounters here!), so you can easily fight or flee combat. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to battle.

Many of the animals are indifferent to your presence, so if you’re just out scavenging for simple materials, you’re fairly safe. The moment you brandish a weapon, though, be on guard because even the docile creatures will swarm you.

Fantasy Life isn’t a difficult game, but that isn’t to say it’s without challenge. While you can slowly but surely whittle down most creatures’ HP, there are a few oh crap moments when you realize that your attacks yield zero damage on some unassuming creatures, despite your character being leveled up a fair amount. Luckily, you’re able to utilize online multiplayer to take on difficult objectives as a team. The story won’t progress in multiplayer, though.

There is a story here, by the way. It involves crystal-like stones falling from the sky and corrupting creatures with dark energy. And, of course, your talkative pal Butterfly obviously knows more than she’s letting on. Fantasy Life evolves from that narrative foundation to spin a simple but touching yarn (since the story is pretty minimal, saying more would likely ruin it).


All of this is wrapped up in a charming, colorful aesthetic and cheery soundtrack. There is always something to do in Fantasy Life and I found it difficult to stop playing. It’s a simple game with a simple story, but there was never a dull moment in the dozens of hours I’ve had had with it. Some might deride this game as tedious, rote or mindless, but for me, Fantasy Life is pure bliss.

(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)