For many years the farming game genre has been ruled by Story of Seasons on consoles before various other titles began to spring up around the concept. Many of these games managed to implement not only the farming, foraging, and friendship building style of the genre but also began to include some action elements as well. Perhaps the most notable happened to be both the Rune Factory franchise from the same developer as Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley to a simpler degree. The latest game to jump into this ring happens to be a cute little title by the name of Kitaria Fables. Set in a fantastical animal filled land with swords, magic, and plenty of crops, is Kitaria Fables worth picking up?
The land of Canoidera was once plagued by a strange evil force known as “The Calamity” that made usually docile monsters aggressive to everyone around them. A band of heroes managed to come together and put a stop to The Calamity and bring peace back to the land, but now signs of it’s return have begun appearing in various places as monsters are once again becoming hostile. Players step into the shoes of Nyanza von Whiskers as he is deployed to the distant Paw Village in order to investigate complaints of monster attacks in the area.
Shortly after arriving with their strange talkative companion Macaron, Nyan finds himself immediately embraced by the village, especially once they learn that he is the grandchild of a famous soldier who once lived among them. With the family farmhouse as their base of investigations, Nyan quickly learns that things are far more complicated than a few monsters running amok and that there are more secrets to this world than he could have ever known and that the truth behind these secrets may just save all of Canoidera.
Kitaria Fables tells a fairly straightforward tale with a few solid reveals every now and then to keep players invested in learning more about the world. The land is filled with a number of colorful animal characters with interesting personalities and tasks that they will give the player but unfortunately that is as far as things go. While this simple tale is still a good one, it also lacks most of the interactions that many fans of the genre tend to enjoy. Although many of the characters are charming, players have no real way to interact with them beyond simply talking to them or accepting the rare quest that generally involves either fetching items or slaying monsters.
There is no way to give gifts or befriend any character outside of what happens in the story as, in the end this is a narrative driven game only. Players cannot marry or even partake in any special events or holidays in Kitaria Fables as there aren’t even seasons in the game, instead days are represented with an ever growing counter at the top of the screen alongside the weather and time of day. While the story does work well enough, it would have been great to see more interaction with the people and world Nyan is trying to save.
Shortly after settling into their farm, Kitaria Fables immediately opens up for players to explore and take on various tasks however they wish to. They can explore the land up to various points, fighting enemies and collecting their dropped items, or simply spend time planting seeds on the farm and making sure that their crops grow properly. For the most part, players will be spending the majority of their time in Kitaria Fables doing the former as the latter is almost treated as an afterthought.
Combat and exploration in Kitaria Fables is handled simply enough as players are able to explore various small zones, traversing from one to the next and generally respawning enemies as needed. Initially players will have access to only a sword but can quickly gain other weapons such as a bow with weapons having their own unique skills while magic serves as its own set of attacks. Weapons come with only a simple combo attack and players can dodge out of the way of incoming enemy attacks that are represented with glowing cones/circles whenever a foe is about to strike. Magic and weapon skills come in a variety of different forms and can be mapped to the shoulder and trigger buttons though it is worth noting that each skill not only has a cooldown but uses up a mana gauge that can only be refilled by dealing damage. This serviceable combat works quite well and is rather forgiving, which is a good thing because players will be doing plenty of fighting.
Oddly enough, despite being stylized like an RPG Kitaria Fables actually has no form of leveling whatsoever. Instead players can only grow stronger by equipping various pieces of equipment they either find hidden away in locked chests or by grinding an excessive amount of materials from enemies in an effort to craft a weapon or piece of armor at the various in-game blacksmiths. In fact, even spells require drop materials to be upgraded and unlocked, with these materials first needing to be refined into another material before use, increasing the grind even further.
Outside of the heavy grinding for the sake of increasing Nyan’s strength, players can also find themselves spending plenty of time on the farm, though the rewards for doing so feel like an afterthought. Often various NPCs will make a request for certain crops or items that can only be created from certain crops but outside of these moments, players are almost discouraged from farming. Not only does produce sell at a very low price, even items made from the player’s produce can barely be worth the effort. Outside of selling them they can be eaten to recover health but considering enemy’s tend to drop healing items on their own, this is rarely effective. It is also worth noting that, despite the lack of an actual calendar, the game does still feature a clock that turns from day to night with NPCs retiring to their homes, which players cannot enter. This can be troublesome when trying to complete a request and also troublesome when trying to balance farm life and battling monsters that often require long distances to battle as fast travel points are few and far between.
Kitaria Fables also allows players to bring a friend with them in couch co-op in an effort to help make the game feel a bit more family friendly, however it ends up bungling this approach for a variety of reasons. Players are limited to only one set of farming equipment from the start, with other tools only purchasable through a shop that occasionally appears at night, meaning that any farming aspects with two players must either be divided tasks such as planting/tilling while the other waters, etc. The same can be said in regards to combat as any upgrades the player manages to get are not reflected in the second player, meaning twice the amount of grinding for what is already an excessively high amount.
Visuals & Audio
One element that Kitaria Fables excels at is providing a colorful and charming world for players to explore. There are plenty of varied environments to explore and every character that players talk with is charming in their own right with a cute design to match. The magic spells are fairly tame looking while the enemy models are varied enough to keep things fresh. It is worth noting that Nyan can be slightly customized with various fur patterns as well as armor eventually.
It is worth noting that there is no real voice work to speak of as characters simply make generic noises when speaking if at all. As for the soundtrack the title features a nice collection of calming music as well as a few slightly more intense tracks that work well when diving into a dungeon and facing off against a boss.
In many ways Kitaria Fables feels like a charming game full of heart that allows players to explore, farm, and fight however they wish with no real time limit holding them back but at the same time, this action RPG focuses so heavily on grinding for dropped items that it rarely feels like players are actually making progress especially when one factors in the fact that farming feels like a complete afterthought. The simple and solid story works well enough though the lack of player interaction is a major downside considering how colorful the world itself is and the potential that is left untapped.
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