- Total Score - 8.5/108.5/10
Tales of Arise uses excellent writing and characters with great effect. Fantastic visuals and a deep combat system round out the package to make it one of the best entries in this storied franchise.
Developer – Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher – Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms – Windows PC®, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PS4|5
*Review key given by publisher*
The Tales franchise has been a staple of the JRPG history for years. Each one with varying a story premise, with deep action gameplay hooks marred by some uneven titles and some standout classics. Tales of Arise arrives on next gen platforms but also delivers one of the series strongest entries yet.
Tales of Arise begins with, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, a sword wielding slave fighting for freedom while also dealing with memory loss! Yes, as rote as that basic premise is, the actual plot doesn’t delve too deep but the characters and their interconnected story is fantastic.
Each character is presented as a cliche at first. Naive spell caster, tough as nails heroine, amnesiac tough guy, but the way these characters talk amongst each other and handle the story really sells the world. Not only do the characters call out each others backstories and cliche origins, they also ask the questions the player does in situations that JRPG’s present.
For example, Shionne asked Alphen, if you lost your memory…how come you know how to fight still? Or the group calls out the over the top nature in which Shionne goes too justify her battle dress. other questions such as, where do the weapons go after combat, or how can somebody in a mask can eat, all provide levity and a breath of fresh air to the ongoing activities.
If you’ve ever played a previous Tales game, the interface and gameplay styles are are similar in nature. In general, those who have tried any of the classic Tales games will find themselves at home.
The management of the party itself, allows you to use any character at will or have the AI control them. A nifty feature is the ability to control which spells and abilities the AI can or can’t use in combat.
Tales of Arise has combat that is fun when played on normal, but thrilling on the harder settings. Party growth is faster the harder it is. Boss fights are challenging even in the early stages of the game and the party’s management system is much more present and decisive than those of other Tales titles, as is the rest mechanic which requires some attention to be understood.
You have to rest in order to continue using healing skills and spells, which prevents spam to push through every dungeon at will and requires careful management of items vs powers.
The central plot does hit some snags, and it’s not without some cliches, but what JRPG isn’t these days. Despite the obvious plot twists, the story is well told, and your mileage can vary wildly based on how much you seek out the party interactions.
Tales of Arise runs perfectly. It’s well optimized, with incredible graphics and lightning fast load times. Tales of Arise is also DLC heavy. With tons of custom costumes and crossover. The game also sells boosters and XP modifiers to make the game less of a challenge, and it’s pretty in your face about it. For myself, it was easy enough to ignore, and the games built in difficulty settings allow you to make it as easy or as hard as you’d like, without needing to purchase any of it. Still, buyer beware.
Overall, Tales of Arise uses excellent writing and characters with great effect. Fantastic visuals and a deep combat system round out the package to make it one of the best entries in this storied franchise.