"Fara is a game that, despite a few hiccups here and there, makes for an enjoyable and entertaining afternoon."
Tell me if you've heard this one: "A young man washes up on a deserted beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there." Fara HD's premise does not exactly inspire confidence, though the developers do have a little bit of fun with the concept. The main character, succinctly named "Hero," comments on the thick black lines outlining his sprite, guesses correctly that the mysterious old man he meets at the start of his quest will teach him swordplay, and suffers verbal abuse by a blue blob stuck to his hand. The blue blob, by the way, is the best character in the game, breaking the fourth wall early and often in methods that would put the 80s TMNT show to shame. Outside of the Blue Furolle, however, most of the NPCs in the game are little more than quest bearers that give you your next assignment – they honestly contribute next to nothing to the game's proceedings, and most of them can be described with a single adjective.
The graphics in the game are decent; the backgrounds are well done and honestly look great, giving the environments a hand drawn feel that, in the era of 3D modeling and anti-aliasing, is hard to find nowadays. The sprites, however, are a different story – they are blocky, undetailed, and look amateurish. It might be a deliberate design choice, but this creates a bizarre dichotomy, as it seems the blocky sprites and the meticulously detailed environments end up clashing with each other, making the graphics feel downright unnatural.
Music is handled similarly and has a definite retro feel to it, and the tunes fit their respective areas well. That's all that can really be said about the music in this game, however; it's not particularly memorable in any capacity, but neither is it grating on the nerves. It's inoffensive, even pleasant to the ear, but you're not going to find yourself remembering the music later.
Game progression is handled in a method similar to adventure games like Zelda, though truncated and much simpler. Throughout the course of the game, the player can obtain two other blobs (called Furolles) that give him or her new abilities that allow access to new areas and progress the story further. There are also items up for purchase that increase movement/attack speed and raise defense, but that's really the extent of the gameplay. The controls are intuitive and never intrusive; movement is simply a matter of touching the area you want Hero to move in, dashing is done by swiping the character in the desired direction, and attacking is handled by touching the desired enemy.
Combat is fun and simple thanks to the minimalist control scheme. In a longer game, the gameplay would have been monotonous and repetitive, but Fara HD ends just before the gameplay begins to get stale or boring. Dungeons have decent layout, with puzzles that really only fulfill the basic requirements of being a Zelda-like game – brain benders they aren't, but they serve as a fine distraction when the player isn't fighting monsters. Some dungeons end up with a good deal of similar looking rooms, but it's difficult to get lost, as the map always points out the player's position relative to the next objective.
The game autosaves at each screen transition, and it's difficult to actively lose track of what you're doing, as the map also doubles as a quest log. Death involves little more than a snide insinuation about the player's incompetence followed by a reload to the last autosave, so it's not hard to complete the game in two or three hours even if you're pitifully unskilled at gaming. The disingenuous assertions – not to mention the easy achievements – will probably compel most players to finish the game in a single sitting, however.
Before someone comes up with the inevitable Zelda comparison, Fara HD is $2.99 on the iPad marketplace; expecting it to be as enthralling as Ocarina of Time is like buying a Budweiser and expecting Chardonnay. It just isn't done. For its price point, Fara is a game that, despite a few hiccups here and there, makes for an enjoyable and entertaining afternoon.