LifeisXbox’s Fantasy Network preview | Hello folks! I’m here today to talk to you about a demo that I’ve been really enjoying! Fantasy Network is a metroidvania but with a social media twist: a socialvania, if you will. This sure grabbed my attention, and if you’re a metroidvania fan, who also spends too many hours on your phone / social media, then maybe this might be a game for you to keep an eye on too! Fantasy Network is being developed by an Italian solo developer called Paolo. Now that you’ve got the basic and the background, let me jump right in and talk you through what Fantasy Network is actually about!
The first socialvania
Fantasy Network is actually the first ‘socialvania’, so this whole concept was new to me. I’ve enjoyed some metroidvania’s, so I was really curious about Fantasy Network. In this game, you’re free to roam around the world as you please. I ended up feeling a tad lost quite quick because of this (and because I suck at orientation), but luckily there is a map on your smartphone. Yes, you have a phone, duh! It’s a game with a social media twist, remember! Anyway, back to the map first: this is still very basic, and some locations don’t have maps (yet), so I hope it all becomes a bit more clear in the final build.
Now, that smartphone we were talking about. You get a few standard apps on your phone, including the map, a notepad, torch, camera, app store, and ‘the fantasy network’. In this Fantasy Network app, you find a list of social network topics. Come across something on your journey, and a new post will be added to the fitting topic. People can then like and react to your posts, and of course, you want as many likes as possible! In the app store, you’ll be able to buy new apps for your phone, but only two were available so far. I can’t wait to see what other apps the developer will add along the way!
There are a bunch of things to do in Fantasy Network, like fighting enemies, visiting buildings (like a bar, an Inn, a game, the Star Smart where you can recharge your phone, etc.), and making friends. The ultimate goal of the game, however, is to win Holua’s five famous talent shows and the presidency. You see, your mom has been kidnapped by the president! Anyway, the game promises that if you immerse yourself in the game, a sinister plot will uncover itself. It all sounds very intriguing, and I’m honestly excited to find out what the hell is going on in Holua!
A vibrant adventure
Even though there is going to be a sinister plot, Fantasy Network looks hella alive, bright, and happy. The vibrant world with hand-drawn graphics and 3D cel-shaded environments is an absolute delight to walk through, and the characters you meet along the way all look very cute. You’ll get advice, but also gossip, from people all over town, and maybe you can help each other out from time to time.
Before you start the game, you can also customize your own character, and even though the choices aren’t that elaborate, I felt like there were a lot of possibilities, still. I could give my character purple hair, and even give her earrings, so I was satisfied.
I was less satisfied with the soundtrack for some reason though. It was just some music playing in the background, and I felt like putting on my own music, rather than listening to what the game had to offer. In no way was this a dealbreaker though, I still enjoyed the gameplay a lot so far!
Battle your way through
Combat is quite important in Fantasy Network. If you’re not spending your time in the city, you’ll be somewhere fighting enemies, like on the beach or Croc Island. In the gym, you get a simple initiation as to how to fight, and you’ll start off with a simple shield and a ladle and rolling pin, but by gathering credits and resources, you’ll be able to purchase newer and stronger weapons. Potions also came in quite handy, so be sure to buy some of those healing potions and anti-poison potions as well.
Of course, if you’re sick of combat for a while, there is plenty of exploring and socializing to do and there are even some arcade games available. Well, not all five were included in the demo, but the developer promises that all five will be there on full release!
Our current verdict
Fantasy Network shows promise, I can tell you that much. The gameplay is fun, and the art style is simply amazing. A free demo is available on Steam right now, so you can actually go see for yourself if this might be your kind of thing. The demo offers you quite a lot already, but your goal is to finish the cookery talent show and take home the trophy. However, you can’t just participate in this, but I won’t spoil anything further, it’s up to you to find out the rest. Have fun!
Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂