A young man washes up on shore without knowledge of where he is or how he got there. An elder teaches him swordplay and sets him off on an epic quest. A small blue blob that lives on his arm breaks the fourth wall at every opportunity.

This was almost the set up of any classic role-playing game, a fact that Pixel and Texel's Fara [$0.99] is happy to point out. With tongue firmly in cheek, the action RPG leads players through most of the cliches of the genre -- fetch quests, boss battles and awkward romantic subplots, among others -- though it never quite transcends those cliches itself.

Fara falls into the simplest category of action RPG. There is no leveling system, no loot, no snazzy gear to equip. There are two extra skills you'll find over the course of the game, and they serve mostly to give you access to new areas, Legend of Zelda style.

The game sends you hither and yon to solve problems for villagers, slay enemies in your way and collect hidden treasure. Some of this serves your ultimate quest, but you're never quite sure what that will be until you reach its last few steps. Still, the journey is entertaining enough. Hacking and slashing your way through the mysterious island is old-school fun, the villagers you meet are quick witted and funny, and finding treasure tucked away in some dark corner is always a good time.

Alas, the controls are not so friendly. Fara offers two control styles, a virtual stick and touch controls that use a combination of swiping and dragging. The former is better, but will get you in trouble in tight spots. And tight spots there are aplenty. I'm not sure what's meant to be fun in providing imprecise controls and then putting deadly spikes and gas all over some rooms, but I certainly didn't find it.

You know how some RPGs have the sewer section, or some equally unfun area that seems designed as an exercise in tedium? Fara trumps them with its tilt sections. Whenever you pick up a shield powerup or use the shield ability the game switches to tilt controls. This lets you get through the aforementioned hazards, but good luck being precise when you have to change the orientation of your phone while on a time limit in a hazardous area with poorly defined boundaries. It's a frustrating and entirely unnecessary inclusion.

At least death isn't much of a setback. The only penalty for dying is that you get sent back to the start of the area you're in, and you rise up the leaderboard that tracks the number of deaths each player suffers. There are also leaderboards for kills and gold collection, and achievements that are mostly awarded for completionism.

Completing every last bit of Fara will only take a few hours, and that includes earning all the achievements. It's the perfect length, really - enough time to feel your quest is sufficiently large without dragging on or backtracking too often. The game would be better for short bits of play if it had a better map, but it's rarely all that difficult to figure out where you're meant to be going.

Ultimately, Fara falls prey to more RPG cliches than it mocks. It's ambitious, and not overly-so, but it's neither unique enough or successful enough to stand out from other games in the action RPG genre. Still, if you're looking for a short jaunt through the fantasy wilds, it's hardly a bad choice. It just isn't a particularly inspiring one.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Jonas

    No mentioning of Fara's physics-based gameplay. Does that mean it is not very... mentionable?

    • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

      I'd assume that refers to the tilt segments, which were memorable - but not in a good way. There are also a few places where you use siege weapons in a sort of Angry Birds lite kind of way, I guess, but it'd be a stretch to call those "incredible physics gameplay."

      • Jonas

        Thanks. Saved me a (admittedly cheap) purchase I probably (still) would not have enjoyed.

  • http://www.jshamblin.com J.Shamblin

    From what's said in the article, Zelda has more RPG elements than this game. So what makes this an action RPG? It sounds like the game is going to disappoint a lot of people expecting something more than what it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Quickmix Frank Quickmix Hassas

    I bought it yesterday without to read this article. I love it.
    The moves are great. Also graphics and gameplay are superb.

  • Daniel Flickinger

    Looks like Pixel n Texel bought the rights to Jesse Eisenberg's likeness for the main character.

    • http://www.jshamblin.com J.Shamblin

      I thought he looked like Bruce Willis... with hair.

    • Voivod281

      He looks like Seth Green in 'Can't Hardly Wait'. So much that I just assumed that he was their inspiration.

  • Fabrício Heringer Barbosa

    Guy who wrote this review is a bit insane. Perfect lenght? Really? I finished this in less than two hours.

    And to the person who asked about physics gameplay... there's none. You get to move a boulder here and there but that's it.

    • http://twitter.com/back2this Sean Yuan

      Actually, a guy didn't write this review. But besides that, when will people stop expecting 40 hour games fro $0.99?

      @back2this:twitter 

      • Fabrício Heringer Barbosa

        Didn't see it was a girl, sorry. I'm not expecting 40 hours of course. But is at least 4 hours too much to ask? I have finished this game in exectly one hour and twenty three minutes. I mean, c'mon. In what world is that the perfect lenght for an action RPG? Yeah, it's 0.99c, but that's inconsequential when there are a ton of 0.99 games with much more content to offer.

      • Ben

        Yes, four hours is too much to ask for a 99 cent game. If you get four hours, that's awesome and an amazing value. It's a DOLLAR.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

      I'd rather play two hours of competently enjoyable RPG than 40 hours of terrible grinding. You're free to disagree, which is why I listed the length. But insane? Really?

      • Fabrício Heringer Barbosa

        Well, of course. Who the hell would rather play 40 hours of trash? If you play a two hours game you will be disppointed, unfullfilled at best, while spending 40 hours on something you don't like could make you want to kill yourself. That's a crazy comparison. It's like saying "I'd rather play a bad game than a very bad game". It doesn't mean less than two hours is the perfect lenght for a game like that.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/NissaCam Nissa Campbell

        I think you've missed my point. The length is perfect *for this game* - not for every action RPG ever. Any longer and it would have dragged.

  • Fabrício Heringer Barbosa

    Well, ok. I just think that if an action RPG gets stale or boring after two hours, then it must be a pretty bad action RPG, and I think the review should reflect that. But clearly the lenght isn't an issue to you, I get that. Opinions and all. Cheers.

    • Devin Hughes

      Or it could be a .99 cent rpg in which case I don't think two hours is unreasonable. I think people are spoiled rotten with how much value a dollar is really worth.

      • http://profiles.google.com/ry.paterson Ryan Paterson

        nobody who ever really loved an action/rpg would say that. that being said this game looks terrible. i'd rather spend my dollar on a snickers bar which i KNOW will be awesome

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Fara Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 3.5