Have you ever wondered what it would be like when video game characters point out what’s wrong with their world? What if someone took the time to point out the absurdity that NPCs and players experience on a regular basis? That is what Video Game Fables sets out to do, and it does a fantastic job deconstructing the typical RPG tropes for players, NPCs, and game design.
The game doesn’t take itself seriously, which results in a light-hearted humorous adventure that never fails to put a smile on your face. While the deconstruction itself doesn’t allow you to magically bypass some in-game annoyances, Video Game Fables is still a fun RPG for those looking for a good mix of laughs and adventure.
Video Game Fables is currently available on PC for USD 19.99.
Story – Going Off Script Too Many Times
Video Game Fables starts with a princess named Aru, who is supposed to be captured by a Gator King and imprisoned in a castle. A Hero gets a task from the King to rescue Aru from the jaws of evil. Before the Hero even sets out on their quest, Aru decides the situation is ridiculous and escapes herself. With the help of a random villager named Nate who just happens to pass by, Aru brings herself back to her kingdom.
This enrages the Hero, who was actually looking forward to the adventure. With the pre-established script no longer possible, the Hero allies with a Witch to destroy the King’s castle. He takes the King and the Gator King hostage before flying away with the witch. Aru will have to recruit Nate and the Gator King’s son Tator to try and fix the situation.
Along the way, Aru will speak with Nate and Tator about their adventures, commenting on how silly or inane something might be. Nate happens to be an expert in heroic knowledge, while Tator really just wants things to go back to normal.
This is your typical RPG adventure where the protagonists defeat the villains after a hero’s journey. What makes it special is that Aru is playing the only sane man, commenting on how silly the journey is because of the tropes they have to go through. Nate seems to enjoy the whole journey, while Tator is just a budding villain who really wants to go home. It’s an absurd set of circumstances that the characters frequently reference, which brings most of the humor and light-heartedness.
Deconstruction – Poking Fun At Tropes
Unlike most RPGs that need a serious tone, Video Game Fables succeeds because it doesn’t take itself seriously. Aru is aware most of their challenges are absurd, dungeons are weird, and NPCs act strange. Having the characters dig their heels in or fail to see the absurdity provides great comedic effect. The script manages to balance this light-hearted humor with the constant reminder of the rescue mission. The result is a deconstruction story that never fails to make you smile and makes you want to see what’s next.
It’s a pity that despite Aru’s knowledge of the tropes, you aren’t able to actively change or sidestep the adventure. While it would not be possible to subvert or deconstruct every RPG trope, you feel like the game could go further. For example, Aru seemingly puts up with the absurdity of dungeons and puzzles. Going along with the theme, having her actively ignore them would be funny. The game is an RPG at the end of the day, but you wonder if the deconstruction could have been taken further at times.
Gameplay – Typical RPG Fighting & Exploration
While the main draw of Video Game Fables is their deconstruction of the RPG genre, the gameplay sticks to the basics. You will explore an open world, journeying to different areas and fighting monsters. In these areas, you will have to explore dungeons and defeat bosses to proceed. As with every RPG, you will experience roadblocks and must find your way around them. Equipment and spells will get upgrades to make future battles easier.
This is not a difficult game on the level of Elden Ring or Death Stranding. After you get used to the gameplay basics, you are largely repeating the same formula throughout the game. Boss fights can be challenging, but you can always get advice to help you prepare. Teleportation points are easily accessible and let you travel anywhere you have previously been. You can even change your levels, getting more EXP to get additional skills if necessary.
A minor complaint would be the game’s camera angles, especially when you have to make some jumps or navigate around tricky obstacles. The dungeons are creative and will test your thinking skills, but sometimes you know the solution. You just struggle to proceed because you are spending more time grasping distance and/or depth.
Combat – Simple & Repetitive With Few Differences
Combat will come easily to every player thanks to the explanations. Even if you are new to the genre, you will quickly get the hang of gameplay within the first hour. This doesn’t mean you can afford to be careless, as death is still possible. But you can expect to have an easy time with no unexpected tricks or gimmicks.
Combat can take some time to get used to, as Video Game Fables allows you to plan when you use magic/skills. You also rely on CRITs to use magic/skills, and they must be generated from regular attacks. With a 40% chance of getting a CRIT, you sometimes get lucky or unlucky and have to roll with your odds.
Having your magic/skill usage tied to CRITs is a creative mechanic, and you can still use CRITs for a stronger physical attack. But it does have the side effect of making characters slightly less unique, since everyone has similar combat roles. Everyone learns different skills, but anyone can be a fighter or a healer. Without CRITs, everyone is a regular attacker just trying to get lucky for a spell/skill. It’s not enough to derail the fun of combat, but it does feel like the only difference with characters are their own names and appearances.
Audio & Visuals – Old School Music With Simple 3D Pixels
Video Game Fables does a great job with its 3D pixel graphics. The environments are designed to remind you of old-school dungeons. Characters are more expressive with their words than their facial expressions. Buildings and other environmental objects stand out enough to be noticed, but never look out of place for an RPG.
The audio is also simple and soothing. There will be intense music when it comes to the boss battles and dungeon crawling, but exploration is largely soothing. It makes you feel like you are on a simple adventure, where having a good time is the top priority. There are no voices, but it’s not necessary as you can tell a character’s attitude from what they are saying.
The two come together to create a fantastic environment where you feel the light-hearted theme. As characters interact with the environment and talk with each other, you never need more than the old beeping noises or some complex creation. It’s a simple adventure where you have fun and deconstruct RPG tropes, with the audio and visuals reminding you of that the whole time.