Tales of Arise is a bit of a throwback JRPG in many ways and also a harbinger of things to come. Within this gaming age, the JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) seems to be a genre that sits aside the mainstream giants and while titles get pumped out regularly, they rarely create a huge splash with exceptions to breakout hits like Persona 5 and Final Fantasy 7: Remake. The Tales series particularly has long been the small brother towards the Final Fantasy’s of the planet and although it’s been nearly Thirty years of titles, the large mainstream success hasn't happened….until now. Tales of Arise takes everything that makes the series ideal for quite a long time and combined it with a more contemporary believe that makes it without a doubt among the best the series has to offer.
Quite the Tale
We start things off in Tales of Arise with our main character Alphen aka Iron Mask enslaved and working in some kind of camp overseen by a military presence. If you’ve played Tales games in the past, generally they don’t start off with slavery as the main theme, so you know things are likely to be darker than normal. Despite seeing images of the main character’s face for months now, we are introduced to him with an iron mask grafted onto his face for reasons unknown. Right there is your intrigue to push forward and in the get-go. Tales of Arise firmly places you in its grasp with an incredibly strong beginning which is pretty difficult to have confidence in a JRPG, considering they're notorious for slow starts.
Usually, JRPGs will give you a rags to riches kind of plot or even the chosen one trope. Thankfully, Tales of Arise is completely against that and instead provides you with a story with a lot of moving parts as well as an incredibly endearing and likable cast that produces one of the best JRPG parties out there. The dichotomy between Alphen and Shionne is pretty great and it’s far from a few of the happy-go-lucky duos in the Tales series past. Both of these clash a lot and it’s interesting to watch both of these argue and grow together interior and exterior combat and also the banter never lets in the whole way through.
When other characters join the party, that dynamic gets even more intriguing, notable and we have seen certain characters take sides and also have conflicts with each other throughout also it creates very engaging dialogue. The voice acting, in particular, is great with Alphen and Shionne to be the stars of the show, though every character really hits the objective typically here. Japanese can be obtained too and both languages are acted perfectly, which is needed because as stated before, we’re entering some heavy territory at times in Tales of Arise. Skits are a mainstay from the series as well and they're presented inside a comic book type of form here and provide you with a lot of backstory and elaboration around the characters and events available. They are optional however and can be sped through should you would like to skim them.
From your beginnings within the slave camp, you’ll uncover the other main character, Shionne is on the run in the evil empire of the game known as the Renans, and never that, but she’s unable to be touched by anyone due to a condition called Thorns that literally electrocutes anybody who touches her. Alphen/Iron Mask winds up crossing paths together with her and reveals he can’t feel pain. So we’ve got two main characters, one can’t feel pain and also the other can’t be touched. Could it be around the nose? Sure, but it’s clever and intriguing and plants the seeds of the very exciting adventure and it’s all supported by a fantastic soundtrack the whole way through.
After the two get together, you set out on a truly epic journey to assist Shionne defeat the five Lords of the Renan nation and discover why Alphen were built with a mask grafted to his face to start with. You will gather a party as high as 6 playable characters., each with an intriguing backstory and motivations, as well as be assisted every so often by guest characters as well. The story twists and turns and it has some truly tragic moments that equal to make it feel like the best adventure in the franchise in a very long time.
The Best Combat a JRPG has Ever Seen
Yup, you read that right. The combat system at play in Tales of Arise is completely brilliant. What starts off as a bit hack and slash-like quickly becomes one of the more complex and fun combat systems in the genre.
Combat may be the area of the game which has often felt a bit behind the times using the Tales series and even Tales of Berseria felt last-gen even with some cool innovations. That is not the situation with Tales of Arise because the combat is incredibly fast-paced and challenging. Gone would be the wait times in between attacking that Tales of Berseria sacked you with as there is a fundamental attack to pepper enemies within between your powerful Arte attacks. Arte attacks are basically the special moves that you can perform and there are a TON to unlock throughout the game with every character having specific ones to them. Each Arte attack occupies some your Soul Gauge using the more powerful attacks taking up a lot of gauge. Advertising media are out of the gauge, you won’t be able to use Artes, and the way to recharge it's with your basic attacks which could also provide their combos extended through the Skill Tree.
You can map three Arte attacks to your face buttons, with one being reserved for jumping. That button restricted to jumping is important because once you go airborne, you will get use of three completely air-specific attacks. So begins the literal juggling act you can get choosing your characters. Certain Artes you can perform on the ground come with an up arrow next to them which means it ends by launching enemies into the air. Whenever you launch enemies into the air, this really is one of the best methods to start combos as chaining Artes together leads to some massive damage, although there are a few caveats. Should you repeat Artes over and over, the damage will go down each time, so this encourages you to definitely get creative with the combos you put together. This creates a bit of a Devil May Cry feeling to the combat system that feels excellent to take part in because the attacks feel weighty and the animations are nothing short of incredible which may come as a surprise for Tales veterans. It ought to also be noted the Tales series remains among the only game series to have attacks supported with haptic feedback on your controller and I can’t stress enough how much this adds to making your characters feel powerful.
The Skill system is what decides what your abilities are going to be in combat and every character includes a lengthy skill tree to see. On these trees, you'll find everything from new Arte attacks to increasing your resistant against elemental attacks. Maximizing your abilities with the Skill tree is key in developing a well-oiled combat machine and every character has different ways to unlock further skills, so it’s a good idea to participate in as many conversations and other events as you can accidentally unlock some cool new abilities.
Cure Points are new things to the series too and these govern how often you can use a support Arte in battle. Which means you can’t constantly spam a First-Aid or Resurrection Arte and instead must ration just how much you use these. Should you exhaust Cure Points, you better we do hope you brought along some curing items in addition to you'll find yourself in an exceedingly bad situation inside a big battle. This may feel cheap at first, but the Cure Point system makes it so that you can’t just spam cure spells when the going gets tough. That combined with the item limit staying at 15 per item means there are no shortcuts in this game. When things get tough, you have to get tougher and that’s the way it should be. You’re not completely screwed should you exhaust Cure Points though as the item Orange Gel recovers it as well as resting at any of the number of rest points obtainable in the sport.
Blocking is finished in the combat with Tales of Arise and in place may be the dodging system. Although I had been skeptical at first, the dodging system quickly became not just fun to make use of but incredibly essential to coming out on the top against a few of the toughest foes. Dodging is timed in Tales of Arise and when you tap the dodge button (everything could be mapped in the settings) in the proper time, you activate a slow-mo effect that evades all damage. This dodge move differs for every character too, plus some characters will retreat farther away from the action than the others. Shortly into the game, you will unlock the Counter Edge which helps you to make use of a powerful counter strike right after dodging perfectly. I didn’t think a dodging system could work this well inside a JRPG, but it is an ideal complement to the considerably speedy combat here.
With some help from My Friends
It wouldn’t be considered a Tales game in case your party members weren’t heavily involved in the combat at all times and with Tales of Arise, that fact is more apparent and effective than ever before. At any time during the combat, you are able to change to another party member in the group. You could have four party members in battle at once with two in the reserve, if you won’t have a full party before you get 20 hours approximately in to the game. Each character plays completely differently in the next and whether you like the swordplay from Alphen, the brawling of Law, or even the charged magic of Rinwell, everyone will discover someone they love to play as here.
Switching characters is simply the tip from the iceberg here as there are many systems to get familiar with involving teaming track of your party members for special attacks. To begin with, we’ve got Boost Attacks. They are when you’ve built up a meter through performing combos so when one of your character’s faces lights up at the base left from the screen, which means you are able to call them directly into perform a special attack. These attacks have a variety of various effects to them too, who you choose to use for the attack will greatly differ caused by it. Rinwell’s Boost attack does some basic magic damage, but the huge bonus is that she also cancels out and absorbs the attack associated with a enemy that is currently going to cast an Astral Arte (Magic) attack that belongs to them. With such at the right moment is usually crucial and each character has a different effect to their Boost Attacks, making each of them useful for different situations. A lot of games tend to give you a lot of characters and then just forget about them. Tales of Arise can make you involve all 6 party members all the time also it results in a brilliant variety that simply doesn’t get old.
The Boost Attacks are cool, but they're low-key when compared to bombastic Boost Strikes and Mystic Artes. A lift Strike opens up if you have an enemy low on health and possess a Boost Attack meter filled. When this happens, a orange D-Pad icon will float over your enemy, and pressing the related character’s direction onto it will unleash a devastating dual attack that appears spectacularly outrageous and finishes with whether ton of damage being done or even the battle just being over outright. Each character combines for different attacks too, so it’s really fun to determine what new party members increase these attacks as they combine to create some incredible assaults.
Going even more into the crazy attack category are the Mystic Artes. Taken from Tales games of old, Mystic Artes here are a few of the very most stunning and insane attacks in JRPG history. I’m talking about attacks that look like they’d split the planet in 2, let alone kill just a little Ice Wolf. Mystic Artes are carried out via charging up a meter by attacking, so when you’ve filled it enough, you will enter Overdrive mode, which lets you make use of your Artes around you want. At any time during Overdrive mode, you are able to press two of your Arte attack buttons simultaneously to activate this attack. Choosing the right moment to use these attacks is often the difference between winning or losing battles, so it's a good idea to hold them for when you really need them.
The Rogues Gallery
Of course, no combat systems matters if what you’re fighting isn’t intriguing and challenging. As is par for that course with starting areas in a JRPG, you will find some pretty uninspired enemies like bees and wolves. These quickly get the boot though just enough you’re fighting Iron Golems, monstrous wasps, carnivorous plants that occupy the entire screen along with a lot of other enemies which are visually incredible and fun to battle. There are some palette-swapped enemies in some places that we didn’t love, but they a minimum of require using different elemental attacks to reveal their weaknesses.
Speaking of which, bosses in Tales of Arise have a weakness system completely new towards the series. Each boss you encounter that is from the larger, creature variety have a weak spot or two that you need to target. While you can perform damage the traditional way, the easiest method to deal out huge harm to these bosses is by destroying these weak points, resulting in the Break status to look on the boss which often is accompanied by it toppling over. That’s easier said than done as some characters have a tendency to hit them easier than others. Shionne for example is excellent at hitting these points because she utilizes a gun as well as your bullets will hit the flaws way easier than the usual character like Alphen, whose wild sword slashes when performing Arte attacks can occasionally miss the mark. While a bit frustrating at points, it makes you utilize all the characters inside your party once again.
When it comes to said bosses, fundamental essentials best in the series, hands down. The very first boss in the game could be easily the ultimate boss of most games and some of those encounters add little twists for them which are sometimes very surprising and creative in the manner you have to deal with them. Not just would be the bosses great, but they are extremely challenging at times. I played on Moderate difficulty throughout my playthrough that is one above Normal and just below Hard and saw some considerable challenges that are certain to test the most hardened action RPG veterans. When there is one issue with the bosses, it's their health bars. These battles take a long time to complete should you aren’t properly prepared and striking the flaws, also it can be brutal to obtain near the end simply to fall at the last moment.
The Tales series has not been a looker. Even the most recent game in Tales of Berseria was marred with ancient-looking textures, stiff-looking characters, and boring level and architecture design that made it seem like a mid-era PS3 game sometimes. Tales of Arise took that into account and instead delivers one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen, period. The environments are incredibly well done with little details everywhere and each area just bursts off your screen with a few of the richest and many vibrant colors you can experience inside a game. Along with the normal graphics, you receive several anime cutscenes that are so amazing looking I'd be shocked if an anime series wasn’t on the way to support the game. Character-wise, gone would be the lifeless faces of the past and instead are some heavily emotive characters which make Tales of Arise look like an anime come to life. To assist with this particular are the animations which are on point as well regardless if it is while fighting enemies or wandering around outside. The graphics really come to life in the combat though and whether you’re ripping through the air with lightning crackling behind Law or setting the battlefield on fire with Alphen’s Blazing Sword, the combat is really a visual marvel to experience.
A Feast for that Fight
Cooking has always been a feature of the Tales series and here it is more important than ever. At each rest area, you have the option to cook, and with these meals come a number of different effects that can help your party out. This becomes incredibly useful as some meals will increase your damage or automatically heal you after every battle. Different ingredients create different effects and it’s a lot of fun collecting these to see what new effects you are able to conjure up. Although you gather items, however, you can fish as well to obtain new ingredients too. For people who love side activities that really change up the main game, Tales of Arise will certainly satisfy.
Quest for the Goods
Tales of Arise not only has a lengthy story but it also has a couple of side-quests too. These quests have huge variations and you may find themselves in quests which involve some monster hunting or ones that involve collecting certain rare materials. Nothing here's will make you can remember the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but there is enough variety here to help keep you wanting more. The most important area of the side-quests though would be the rewards. This will often be your supply of Gald (Money) in Tales of Arise, so whether you love doing them or not, they pretty much become necessary on most difficulties.
An Armory for the Ages
An issue that often comes up in games within the genre is the characters never changing their look through the span of the sport. Thankfully, Tales of Arise alleviates that with cosmetic changes together with your armors along with outfits to acquire throughout the game. Weapons change their look as well and some from the higher-level ones are incredible looking and really give off the feeling of the character progressing. Weapons and Armor are acquired through merchants and also you have to collect components of order to make the better ones, which gives you another incentive to take side quests.
Side Note: The DLC available at launch gives you a lot of items and bonuses like 100,000 Gald or even the best weapons hanging around in the jump. Skip these if you're able to as they ruin the problem of the game. If you must go with DLC, go for the outfits as there are plenty of cool ones to select from.
It has been a very long time since there would be a JRPG with just as much potential as Tales of Arise and even though games that receive hype like this sometimes fall short of expectations, Tales of Arise manages to meet them and then some. This really is certainly the best game within the series and should be considered a landmark title for Bandai Namco Studios along with a standard for those JRPGS moving forward. It’s around 50-60 hours too, so that you can be prepared to get a ton of bang for your buck. For those who thirst for that epic JRPGS of old or someone seeking to consider using a more fantastical RPG than the gritty and realistic ones of today’s age, Tales of Arise will hit the mark in virtually every way.