Tales of Arise, the new chapter in the Tales series, is ready for official launch in a few days, on September 10th. The game presents itself as an RPG with real-time arena combat and a great focus on storytelling. We at Tech Princess have had the opportunity to try the game for a long time and, after reaching the end credits, we are ready to offer you our review of Tales of Arise.
Tales of Arise: our review
The Tales series is among the longest-running for JRPGs and it is undeniable that the previous chapters to Arise have been able to introduce both new game mechanics and really well-chosen narrative ideas, which contribute to giving each title its mood and its unique atmosphere. Tales of Arise in this sense is no exception and Bandai Namco has basted a narrative plot with strong and rather current themes.
The turbulent story of Tales of Arise begins as Iron mask, a young man with no memory, completely insensitive to pain wearing, in fact, a sort of helmet that covers his entire face and which he cannot take off in any way. Iron Mask is nothing more than a Dahnan slave, under the yoke of the rulers of Rena.
These are the narrative premises of Tales of Arise: two worlds Dahna and Rena they entered into conflict about 300 years before the events in which we will take part and Rena, with technology and a much more advanced civilization, enslaved the entire planet of Dahna in a single night, using its inhabitants as real fuel by stealing astral energy from them.
Yes, because after having capitulated the whole Dahna has been divided into five realms, each under the rule of a lord whose task is to collect as much astral energy as possible from the Dahnani slaves to excel during the Royal Challenge. This practice serves to elect the absolute ruler of Rena and to achieve this the lords have grafted a spirit nucleus into all slaves to suck their life energy.
The rebellion of the Iron Mask
As we said then our adventure begins in the role of Iron mask, a generous young man with a strong sense of justice who takes the opportunity to rebel against the Rhine regime when Shionne, a mysterious Rhenish girl suffering from a curse that makes her impossible to touch frees herself from the train in which she was held prisoner.
Shionne, for unknown reasons, seems intent on killing all five lords who have settled in Dahna and during the early stages of the game we will discover that she is in possession of the Primary Core of Fire, a powerful artifact that contains all the astral energy stolen from the dahnans and that only Ironmask can use, since the power of the core manifests itself in a long red-hot sword and our hero is completely immune to the pain caused by burns.
From here begins the journey of this strange couple to free the entire Dahna from the Rhenish regime, starting with the first lord, the one of fire, and then moving on to all the others. The story proposed by Tales of Arise undoubtedly takes on mature and even fairly heavy tones right from the start and emphasizes painfully current issues, such as discrimination and oppression of the weak.
In this regard, we cannot fail to underline that, proceeding along the tracks of history, the developers have managed to give back an insight into two deeply complex and multifaceted worlds, where each kingdom visited is strongly influenced by the lord who rules it.
There will be authoritarian regimes, those that opt for a more subtle control of the population, pitting citizens against each other and so on. The situations that you will face will be many, very different from each other and, of course, there will be no shortage of twists. In short, the narrative sector of Tales of Arise does not disappoint and we followed it with great curiosity from beginning to end, net of some moments in which it seemed to us that the writing of events slowed down a bit too much.
On the other hand, Tales of Arise is a game that, as per tradition for the series, is not afraid to take its time to unravel every aspect of the plot, even with the risk of alienating less patient players.
The group of liberators
Obviously Ironmask and Shionne will not be alone in their endeavor and with them there will be a plethora of other characters that we will learn about throughout the story. In this regard Iron Mask embodies the ideal of justice that spurs slaves to rebel. AND’ the classic budding hero, although it was given enough shadows and hallmarks to make it its own unique way, which we really appreciated.
Shionne, on the other hand, is the perfect counterpart. The mysterious Rhenish girl is direct, little inclined to dialogue and focused on her sole objective of defeating the Rhenish lords one by one, whatever the cost. During the game events we will be able to fully understand his character traits, which hide a life spent in solitude due to his curse.
Together with them there will be Law, a boy particularly skilled in the art of fighting and Rinwell, one of the last Dahnane sorceresses with a burning hatred towards the Rhenish culture, who is in fact guilty of exterminating her entire family. Later they will join the group too Dohalim e Kisara. The first is a Rhenish lord who, in contrast with his compatriots, aims at the coexistence of the two peoples and the second is the latter’s bodyguard, characterized by a strong sense of responsibility.
The cast of main characters is therefore not very large, we have six members in total, but it is not an element that weighs particularly on the production, given their excellent characterization. The characters of our group evolve more than enough during the events narrated, and from a mismatched handful of personalities they will effectively become the liberated group that Dahna deserves.
Very nice from this point of view many small interactions between the characters, from skits in which it is possible to chat with them after the main events of the plot, to real subplots that can be followed at the camps before sleeping aimed at deepening our relationship with them. There is so much to love about the characters in Tales of Arise and if you like video games that take their time to hatch the personalities of the main heroes these banters will be perfect for you.
Of course it must be said that these scripatati events are really many and verbose, in pure JRPG style, and if you want to see them all you will slow down the game progression a lot, but for the most part it is really worth it, as they will allow us to have a 360-degree view of the game world.
In battle for freedom
We continue the review of Tales of Arise by talking about an aspect that is very central to the production, namely the gameplay. As said at the beginning, Tales of Arise is configured as an action RPG with real-time combat and the combat system designed by Namco Bandai in this round is in some ways similar to what we have seen in the past, even if it has some discreet differences.
In battle, in fact, we will still have to rely on chaining normal attacks and skills, in such a way as to create combos that can leave the enemy breathless and that can even be chained in mid-air. Each character can initially use 6 different arts (unlockable in a special menu), three on the ground and three in the air, which can be used through the use of a specific bar called BA, which recharges itself during the course of the battle.
Completely absent a key to defend, and to avoid enemy shots we will have to make use of a useful dodge executable with the right backbone of the controller. Battles are therefore based on a subtle balance between standard attacks, dodges and limbs; a system that is stratified and becomes incredibly complex as new passive skills and limbs to be used are unlocked.
In addition to this we also have the unreleased boost attacks, special moves unique to each character that have different effects on the enemies on which they are used. Shionne, for example, will perform an attack capable of taking down flying enemies, Rinwell will cast a spell that will block enemy spells, Dohalim will slow down enemies faster and so on. Learning when to use these attacks is essential for dealing with some of the toughest enemies, preventing them from doing good and bad times.
Also present were the assalti boost, real couple finishers that can be used to give the final blows to the enemy after having weakened him properly. To use the spells instead the whole group refers to the shared bar of PC, which you will need to keep an eye on to avoid running dry, which could happen when, for example, you treat yourself too often.
The game balance
As for the game balance, we found several ups and downs. If in most cases the enemies encountered during the levels have never given us significant problems, boss and mini boss are a completely different story that deserves a parenthesis.
In fact, if these creatures are strong and up to their role, we have often noticed that they are also the proud owners of one excessively high amount of health points, which sometimes directly affects the fun that comes from facing them.
Although they are almost always well-cared for clashes, we frequently found ourselves in difficulty not so much for the difficulty inherent in the bossfight, but rather for the duration of the latter which forced us to use many objects to restore the PC breaking the rhythm of the fight. This is not an element that does not affect the game in general in a disabling way, but it still made us breathe a few sighs of frustration and too much boredom.
Likewise we have not found the way in which the arts are unlocked totally centered. These skills can be obtained by spending battle points in a dedicated menu, but can also be unlocked in combat after using them a certain number of times. The problem is that this number quickly exceeds the thousands for any single art, which makes grinding a rather long and tedious process.