Fairune was a fun - if not particularly ground-breaking - little game that came out of nowhere and charmed us with its simplistic yet addictive gameplay, mixing Ys-like bump combat with a Zelda-esque overworld filled with secrets. We thought the game's story felt pretty complete, so we were quite surprised that a sequel popped up, once again out of the blue. But does Fairune 2 manage to be as enjoyable as the original?
Picking up some time after the first game, the heroine is still going around the land as an adventurer, before her book informs her that something is amiss once again. You'll quickly regain the heal point-creating crystal and your sword, before attempting to save the day once more. The story actually gets somewhat detailed and you'll get plenty of exposition from NPCs, but initially your quest is to free three fairies across three different zones.
If you've played the first Fairune, it won't take long for you to remember how to play. You explore a big, Zelda-like overworld while looking for switches and key items, which are then used to advance towards other locations. Simple, right? Of course, there's a ton of secrets, and you'll have to look at your surroundings very carefully - there's usually a visual hint that there's a hidden path somewhere, though there are also a few completely hidden staircases hiding optional stat boosting items, much like the game's predecessor.
Combat was the first game's unique feature, and it's still exactly the same here. Just like in some of the first few Ys games, fighting enemies is as simple as it can possibly get - there's no need to swing a sword or fire projectiles, you simply attack foes by running into them. In Fairune, this will always kill the enemy in one hit - what differs depending on the enemy is how much damage you take. Throughout the game, you'll have to attempt to kill enemies around your experience level, in order to minimize damage and level up more efficiently. Taking on enemies too far out of your league could result in you being the one to get insta-killed!
While not much has changed in terms of gameplay mechanics, Fairune 2 is a significantly longer game when compared to the first title. In the first game there was one big overworld and one big underworld, and then a handful of bitesized late-game areas. This time, though, there are four main zones to explore, and every single one has a big overworld and a big underworld. It's quite telling that while the first game had an achievement for beating it in under an hour, this game's time limit for the same achievement is two and a half hours. Most likely that won't happen on a first playthrough - in fact, it took us over five hours, as we got stuck several times.
If there's one complaint about Fairune 2, this has to be the main one - it's extremely easy to get stuck. Miss one secret path or environmental detail, and you can expect to be wandering around for a long time. We got completely stuck in the second zone for almost an hour before finally noticing something we didn't see the previous 20 times we walked through the same screen.
Fairune 2's level design in general seems a little more obtuse than the first game - after a certain point, the first and third zones are quite easy to navigate quickly, but the other two don't have this luxury and will force you to take incredibly long paths in order to get to certain places, which is especially annoying if you happen to die and get sent all the way back to the first zone. This could've easily been fixed with a few additional shortcuts placed here and there, but as it stands you'd better keep your eyes peeled to keep backtracking to a minimum, or suffer the consequences!
Like the first game, there is some incentive to replay the game in the form of achievements. These range from killing all enemies, including ones that only spawn rarely on specific screens, beating the game in under two and a half hours, to discovering a load of secret dialogue. None of them are particularly difficult save for the speedrun, which can be overcome with some advance planning, but they're once again a fun way to squeeze some extra hours out of the game.
Graphically the game looks practically identical to the first, so if you loved the pixelated charm of the original, you'll feel right at home here. The music is still comprised of some catchy chiptunes, and clearing the game will unlock a sound test so you can listen to them any time you want - there's some great stuff in there.
True to its price tag, Fairune 2 offers far more content than its predecessor, feasibly taking more than twice the amount of time to beat. While we'd love to label this game as being outright superior, the fact getting stuck is so easy can be a serious damper to one's enjoyment - wandering around aimlessly for hours is not our idea of fun. If you enjoyed the first game, we'd still heartily recommend this one, just be careful not to miss anything!