Tales is one of the oldest jRPG series, with games coming out since the mid-90s. Starting with Tales of Zestiria, all parts began to appear not only on consoles, but also on PCs, and with a translation into Russian. The same thing happened with Tales of Arise, which will be discussed in this review.
The plot of Tales of Arise begins with the story of the slave Alfen, who does not remember anything about his past, including his name. At first, everyone calls him the Iron Mask, since his face is covered, in fact, with an iron mask, which he cannot take off. However, everything changes when a girl named Shion interferes with his routine slave life, fleeing the pursuit. Our hero decides to help the stranger, and at the same time to escape himself.
As with many classic jRPGs, the story unfolds rather slowly. If the second character joins us literally at the beginning, then the third will appear in about 5 hours, that is, after the completion of the first arc. The story itself does not shine with originality – the heroes are going to destroy six villains who in every possible way mock the people (in general, not everything is so simple there, but the initial goal is that). However, this is more than offset by the elaboration of the characters, plot twists and a variety of interesting situations.
Moreover, each arch offers something new. If in the first we free people from slave labor, then in the second we find ourselves in a city where no one trusts anyone, since everyone can inform someone in order to receive a reward. Further – even more interesting.
The developers try to justify almost every detail, but often they do not do it within the plot, so as not to interfere with the narrative. You can talk to the characters and learn something new (although they often talk about simple everyday problems). For example, they discuss how the hero eats while wearing a mask, why Shion’s weapons materialize out of thin air, and so on. You can also learn more about the universe simply by talking to the NPC. All this is optional, so no one bothers you to just walk by.
With side quests, the situation is slightly better than the average jRPG. Yes, more often than not we are still asked to simply go to a specific location and kill said enemies or gather the necessary resources. However, now errands are sometimes accompanied by funny dialogues. In addition, you can quickly teleport to the desired location, and there are not so many tasks themselves to get tired of.
The combat system in Tales of Arise is active, but according to the classics, battles take place in separate arenas. The player can use a normal attack, as well as three active abilities each for use on the ground and in the air – the second panel opens after about 20 hours of passage. In addition, there is evasion and a special finishing move, activated when filling a special scale. Points are spent on the use of abilities, which are very quickly restored, which is why the dynamics of the battle does not sag.
It is allowed to switch freely between characters, but this is not necessary. Firstly, the combat system, in my opinion, is most interesting only for Alfen, and the rest are best suited only as support. Secondly, the bots themselves do an excellent job and can use the full range of abilities, and not in a limited number, like the controlled character. Allies’ behavior can be fine-tuned using a special system reminiscent of the Gambits from Final Fantasy XII, so switching is not necessary in most cases. However, as before, for those who like to fully control the course of the battle, there is also a manual mode.
Each character has its own “ult”, which must be used manually by pressing the appropriate cross button. These abilities are very useful in certain situations. For example, Rinwell interrupts the casting of an enemy skill, and Lowe breaks through the defense. However, they do a lot of damage by themselves, so no one bothers you to use Rinwell’s “ult” just in order to quickly kill the enemy. However, it is worth remembering that after that you will have to wait for the recovery and at the right time you may no longer have it.
Another interesting detail is that a separate resource is spent to restore health. This is understandable, because there is no mana in the game, and somehow it is necessary to limit the endless spam of treatment. By the way, this same resource is consumed when you remove various obstacles, such as a wall of fire blocking the path to the chest, or to heal ordinary people in the world who are in trouble.
For participating in battles, you receive skill points that allow you to learn active and passive abilities. The pumping is divided into segments, and if you fill one completely, then an additional passive bonus is given. Some segments open only after certain conditions are met – for example, crafting several things or completing a certain task.
Yes, there is also craft here. You can go to a special NPC and ask him to make some weapon and accessory for you. The latter can be improved by adding additional effects. With regards to leveling up, there is nothing special here – the characteristics increase automatically. By participating in a series of battles, you will receive a bonus to experience, but this opportunity will not appear immediately. By the way, there is even a certain analogue of “Farm Frenzy”, but with very limited functionality. And they didn’t forget about fishing.
Fans of the series may also notice the visual changes. Graphically, Tales of Arise has changed significantly thanks to the transition to the Unreal Engine 4. There are several different biomes in the game, through which the team of heroes will have to make their way. The environment looks like it was painted in watercolors, which looks good, but at the same time it retains the familiar anime style.
The main and, perhaps, the only serious drawback of Tales of Arise stretches back to Tales of Zestiria 2015 – the presence of microtransactions. For money, it is allowed to purchase levels and gold, increase health, speed up the progression, increase the maximum number of consumables, making the passage more comfortable. You can object by saying that the game can be completely passed, not “donatya” at all, and you will be absolutely right. However, the very fact of the presence of goods that significantly affect gameplay for real money in a single-player game sold at a “full price” is not very encouraging.
Tales of Arise is a really successful part of the series, which I would like to recommend to fans of the jRPG genre. Not everything is perfect here, but in the game it is interesting to follow the development of relationships between the characters, travel the world and learn more about it, and just participate in battles. If you are looking for a great adventure for dozens of hours, then it is definitely worth taking a closer look.