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History lesson

Product: Fara | Developer: Pixel and Texel | Publisher: Pixel and Texel | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
Fara iPhone, thumbnail 1
Fara begins with a scene explaining how our hero finds himself washed ashore on a mysterious island inhabited by warriors, creatures, and magic before setting off on a quest to restore peace to the land.

It's all rather familiar. Fara is a love letter to RPGs of old, with polished visuals and fun, simple gameplay. It’s a good game in its own right, despite succumbing to many of the RPG clichés it parodies.

All hail the player

Fara’s tongue-in-cheek tone becomes apparent almost immediately, when the old man who finds you washed up on the beach remarks, “at least he’s not wearing a silly green hat like the last boy.”

This old man then teaches you how to become a warrior, thanks to his previous life as a master swordsman.

These nods to role-playing history continue via the witty dialogue between you and stock characters such as the feisty love interest and the village chief, who has an unhealthy obsession with meat.

Characters frequently break the fourth wall by discussing their own speech bubbles and debating over the existence of a greater being called the “player”, who controls every aspect of their lives.

Once you've acquainted yourself with the townsfolk they give you mundane quests to complete, and your character questions these often illogical RPG conventions by greeting them with deadpan responses like “let me guess, you want me to go there”, and with rhetorical questions about how anything got done before you arrived.

In a land Fara Fara Way

You can control your character using a traditional scheme of virtual buttons or use tap and swipe controls to move, attack, and use equipment. Certain sections require you to use tilt controls, such as those involving shields.

Most quests involve searches for characters and items. Others involve conquering dungeons, and it's here that the similarities in gameplay between Fara and Zelda are most plain.

The map is divided into different areas, with environments, deserts, and caverns showing off the superb hand-painted style of the artwork. 

Fara from bad

Fara’s level of polish, sense of humour, and absence of more traditional elements such as levels, XP, and marathon battles mean that it isn’t a proper RPG, but it works well as both a parody and a decent adventure game.

However, both control schemes have their flaws. The touchscreen controls are the superior option, but are too imprecise to move objects or use certain items, meaning that you’ll often swap between them and the slightly award traditional scheme - a far from ideal situation.

Fara often pokes fun at the RPG genre's eternal desire to send players on random quests without a sense of purpose, or at their preoccupation with collectibles. Yet it often gives in to the same temptation, justifying these tasks as inside jokes. These tasks are made all the more laborious by an almost useless map.

These imperfections are sometimes hard to ignore, but if you're able to forgive its inadequacies Fara is a fine homage to the role-playing genre.

Reviewer photo
Steve McCaskill  | 26 October 2011
While not completely free of the flaws it highlights in other role-playing games, Fara’s tongue-in-cheek humour cannot fail to evoke a smile from even the most stony-faced RPG player
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