Visually this game is very pretty - lots of early 3D spaces, interesting color palettes, especially the overworlds. I played the first hour here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxhU8zYErJ8
The game uses 2D sprites in 3D areas to neat effect, I love the cactus towers (sabokuri), and it was fun to see what areas each new kingdom held.
The writing was... pretty bare bones. The arcs in each kingdom feel sort of like a broken JRPG - you might stick a thorn into a train to slow it down. Or rescue a clan of chickens from an invasion. Or fix a rainbow bridge by finding 7 items, or help a marriage that's going to go wrong... most of the time it's fairly unremarkable, but occasionally some situations are surreal and unique - a guesthouse owner in the middle of a jungle, with a single guest - a man who can't wake up. Other humans trapped in the storybook, forced to work as clowns forever.
Due to how the game works, it's possible to miss entire kingdoms based on very unnoticeable decisions (I did). I might do a playthrough again to see those areas. Which leads to my next point - as an adventure game Fantastep... sucks lol. Puzzle solutions range from obvious to impossible to guess (one involves you having to return to the same room 5 or 6 times to find a different clue in the same spot). At one point I beat the final boss before saving each kingdom, and it set flags in such a way that some kingdom's quests were automatically completed. It's possible to miss items to complete quests! The game requires you to find 5 flower rings. The game actually has 7 or 8, relying on clues from hidden fairies to decipher which are the ones you want to use. I used the wrong rings and got the bad ending, but at that point I was locked out of the good end, and didn't really care...
Overall a pretty rough game with some great art and music. I really like the strange storybook fantasy atmosphere, even if it's roughly and poorly rendered. Definitely makes me want to check out similar vibe games from the mid/late 90s, like Napple Tale.

Reviewed on Aug 26, 2022


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