Relevant for platform: PC
Authors Cris tales call their brainchild a love letter to classic Japanese RPGs. Although this project is not Japanese, but Colombian. And as often happens in such cases, strangers tried to bring their own, new to the JRPG genre, writing this love letter in a new manner. What came of this and how interesting is this letter to read?
The girl and the frog save the world
When looking at Cris tales immediately striking is her distinctive (and very cool!) style, which can hardly be associated with anime – rather, the influence of the vibrant Colombian culture affects.
Juicy colors, ornate lines and patterns, expressive faces – Cris tales is somewhat reminiscent of stained glass paintings. And it is around the stained-glass windows that the plot is largely twisted.
The fable, like the main character of this story, cannot be called typical for Japanese, and indeed for any RPG. We play as Chrisbell, a girl from an orphanage, who somehow, unknowingly, has learned to manage time. She can see the present, past and future at the same time. And in the future, Chrisbell saw that trouble would happen to her hometown, and not only to him. And the Empress of Time is to blame for this – she is gathering forces to start a war that can destroy both Crystallis, the homeland of the time magicians, and the other four kingdoms in this region.
There is nothing to do – you need to somehow save the world. But first you have to awaken all the hidden powers of the girl – for this you have to visit cathedrals in different regions of the world, and touch the old stained-glass windows, with which Chrisbell is establishing an internal connection. Together with her, a talking frog in a top hat named Matthias, a young man with a sword Christoph and a wise magician of time named Wilhelm, who looks like a kindergarten graduate, go on a journey. But this flamboyance among teammates is just a classic of Japanese games.
Choices with consequences
The motley group, as usual, travels around the world map, fights, communicates, completes quests and comes to the aid of the disadvantaged. Either he saves a boy who was carried away by water, then he finds out where another tomboy disappeared in the sewers, then he collects and takes flowers to the monument to the fallen, then he pulls the prisoners out of captivity.
And then you still need to decide who, for example, will run the city instead of a tyrant – his ex-wife, who knows about finances, who, though late, but has seen the light, or an ardent revolutionary and defender of all ordinary citizens, who has always been against the government? We determine the fate of many regions, and our decisions affect their future. Endings in Cris tales respectively, also a few.
Back to the Future
In general, the authors write that each character, enemy and even kingdom has a past, present and several options for the future, depending on our actions. This, of course, is largely an advertising profanation, but not in all. Yes, we often observe the past, present, and future of the oncoming character or city at the same time. Somewhere, for example, we see three pretty girls, then with the help of a frog we are transported into the future – and now we have before us only two of them, represented by sad old women. Or, running along the streets of a city suffering from floods in the present, at the same time we see how in the future it was completely flooded, and fish swim in the streets submerged in water.
The sight is really unusual and unpleasant, albeit mesmerizing.
But all this can be influenced only in certain cases, provided for by the main or side tasks. Therefore, in addition to purely plot decisions, mainly related to the fate of the regions, there are also smaller, but also scripted situations. From very insignificant (one girl will ask what color she should paint the house) to more serious: so, with the help of Matthias, you can see in the future that the child we saved from the water will die due to the fact that his stomach was not washed out in time. Accordingly, we jump into the present with a frog and urge our mother to do this procedure as soon as possible.
We could have missed this situation and passed by.
In addition, in the process of exploring locations, you can destroy some objects (send them to the future), freeing the passage, or, conversely, restore the collapsed columns, sending them to the bright past, when they were still standing – this will also help to pass, but already on top. Or we see that in the future / past there is a chest next to it with something useful inside, but in the present it is not. Then we use Matthias again, send him at the right time and take our charm.
Fight against time and the elements
The authors talk about the uniqueness of their combat mechanics, where you can age and rejuvenate enemies, but in fact something similar has already happened – although this does not negate the fact that fights in Cris tales look fresh and interesting.
In general, everything is traditional for JRPG – turn-based mechanics are used, where opponents stand opposite each other and take turns. You can attack, apply skills, objects or spells, go into defense or try to escape. New skills are learned automatically as the character is pumped. Also, when you get levels, the main characteristics increase automatically.
And we also influence them with equipment – there are rings, shoes, bracers. The weapon does not change, but it can be improved by attaching various upgrades that give additional effects – for example, with each blow they reduce the enemy’s defense.
You also have to buy consumables and tents – the latter allow you to set up camp and rest in order to fully restore all vital signs. So, at first, there is a shortage of money and useful items.
And the battles are not easy. Many skills used in fights are elemental – you have to experimentally find out which type of damage the next enemy is more vulnerable or resistant to. In turn, the enemy can grope for our weak points – take, for example, under the control of one of our allies.
It is possible and necessary to carry out joint attacks as the special scale is filled and press the “Use” key in time when we attack or defend – this enhances the effect, allowing us to inflict double damage or completely block attacks.
Finally, enemies are allowed, as I said, to be sent at different time periods. In the past, so that the tough warrior would turn into his earlier and weaker version. Or you can poison the enemy, and then send him into the future, where the poison has already fully worked. Or, during a joint attack, Wilhelm throws bombs at someone, and Chrisbell rewinds time so that they all explode quickly.
In general, you don’t get bored. Although, by and large, only bosses can throw a real challenge. The further, the less there is a shortage of money, equipment and consumables, and hence the tension.
Cris tales not quite similar to the classic JRPG, but it did not become a special revolution either – as well as an absolute masterpiece from the point of view of gameplay (but the artistic value is obvious!). This is just a high-quality adventure RPG with vivid characters, its own style and gameplay “tricks”, which is interesting to play for most of the time – too, you see, a lot.
Pros: the adventures are interesting to follow; colorful characters; the ability to influence the fate of regions and people with their decisions; addictive gameplay in the tradition of JRPG, but with its own ideas; the ability to rewind time to the past or the future both in quests and in battles; bright and very beautiful picture; quality music; excellent translation into Russian.
Minuses: in the second half of the battles, there is not enough challenge and tension, and the abundance of spells and healing items increases the duration, but not the severity of the battles.