LifeisXbox’s Tales of Arise Review | Let’s get this straight out of the way. The Tales series doesn’t need any introduction whatsoever. First, to come out of the gate in 1995, the Tales of series has become a main staple in any jRPG fan’s heart and living room one time or another. Right after its 25 year anniversary, Bandai Namco brings us their next installment in the series called Tales of Arise. Returning us to the iconic worlds of Dahna and Rena, Tales of Arise sets the story up with our main hero called “Iron Mask”. He is called this way because, well… He wears an iron mask. Why? He doesn’t know. You see, our hero is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember anything or anyone from his past. The only thing he does know is that, as a Dahnan, he has been put to work by the ruthless Renan’s plus, he also is fully immune to pain. Though he still suffers from wounds he is totally and utterly impervious to the feeling of… The story very quickly takes a turn for the unknown, when during his duties? He finds a girl that has no name but is hunted by the Renan soldiers. And while she urges him to run, he turns to face the soldiers head-on. What will happen to our nameless hero? And who is this girl? Eager to find out if the game still holds up, even after so many others have gone before it? Then wait no longer and get ready for this review of… Tales of Arise!
ℹ️ | We played Tales of Arise for 15 hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on Xbox One and S/X, Playstation 4/5, Microsoft Windows and Steam.
What we liked!
- Bloody gorgeous | Sweet mother of Jesus, does Tales of Arise look good or what! With a mix of what looks like cell shading and looking like an actual piece of art, in my opinion, it won’t be long before your jaw will be hanging on the floor by how pretty it looks. The environments, the battle visual effects (being your artes, NPC visual,…) and so much more. These things all have a unique vibe to them. Okay, sure, some sprites are used time and time again. Let’s say for instance the soldiers? But everything else just stands on their own and is proud to show their true colors. Though, even on my Series X, if I went for full visual quality? I did feel as if there were some short moments of frames being dropped. But, I couldn’t blame the game for that though. At times the screen is just filled with flashing streams of lightning and actions that I couldn’t marvel at how streamlined everything really feels. I felt as if I’ve seen less taxing games performing worse than this one did. So it is a true attest as to how perfectly balanced they actually created the game to be!
- Easy to understand | Tales of Arise may be overwhelming on so many factors; still I must say it’s so easy to get into and enjoy. Yes, it has a plethora of skills and skill trees for you to unlock, invest skill points into, and combos per character to perform. Still, it didn’t feel as if I needed to get deep into the lore or do damage calculations to get the most out of a certain combo. Everything you do, albeit performing an arte or comboïng with a teammate? Feels heavy and hard-hitting. Not only that, each character that comes into your party is fully playable. So if sword-swinging isn’t your schtick? No problem. You could try a brawler or a magic caster. It doesn’t matter. Tales of Arise will more than likely have one character out of many who will feel like “home” to your trigger happy fingers!
- Outstanding audio | If I may quote Janice from Friends? OH. MY. GOD! The team over at Bandai Namco struck solid gold when it comes down to the soundtrack and voice actors. Firstly, the actors. At the start of the game, you’ll get the option to choose between English or Japanese. I chose English (not because I don’t like Japanese), but because more often than not the English casts in games like this just phone their lines in and are eager to cash in their paycheck. Well, let me tell you! These guys went for the gold and they grasped the medal with both hands! Though at times a tad bit corny, they do grasp their character and also portray the needed emphasis on emotion perfectly! But then comes the soundtrack and this is really where Tales of Arise shines out in! Not only is it captivating, but it is also a pleasant ride between harmony and intense battle music. I even noticed that you can order the vinyl of the game. So if you’re someone who has a record player and loves the soundtrack? That’s something you can have in your collection!
- Worthwhile battles | Tales of Arise doesn’t hold back the punches when it comes down to the bigger battles. Sure you’ll have the mandatory riffraff for you to bludgeon your way through. But that also means easy EXP and extra levels. Which, let me tell you, are worth it and needed if you’re going to want to take down some of the tougher bosses or ultra beasts along the way. These things are big. And I mean, big! Sure not Final Fantasy or God of War types of big, but pretty big either way. They require tactics, understanding of the movement patterns, dodging, and a tad bit of luck. Don’t think you’ll come out safely on the other end if you’re under-leveled and treat the boss as if he’s just that other random Soldier X or Alpha Wolf Y. Because believe me, he’ll school you properly and make you beg for mercy.
- A huge and meaty game | If I told you that Tales of Arise is a short game, that is short-lived and has nearly nothing on offer for you? Then I would be called a big fat liar. Tales of Arise has oodles for you to dive yourself into! There are huge vast stretches of land (not open-world though) for you to traverse around in, gathering up resources so that you can craft and cook everything that your heart desires. Then, you’ve got the main story which is filled up to the brim with juicy details and things for you to do. But I think that, what set the bar high for me in terms of quality AND quantity, were the side missions. You know, a lot of RPG games out there treat side missions as “fun little extra things” for you to do while rarely giving you anything worthwhile in return. Sure you get some EXP along the way or a cool, throw-away weapon that loses its potential fairly quickly as you chug along with the main storyline. But that would be about it. But not here, no sir. Here, a lot of the side missions give you actual things for you to work towards. Some unlock skill trees, others give you weapons that you can use to craft end-game weaponry. Talk about making it worthwhile for you to do the side missions, huh! That means that, if you want to 100% the game, you’ll be looking at an easy 80 to 100 hours of fun time! Woohoo!
- What a hoot…le | Search high and low, and you’ll more than likely stumble across one of these big birdies during your journey. These give you items. Albeit cosmetic or otherwise, they are a sure-given. And that’s great and all… if it weren’t for the movement dance that you, unfortunately, have to do with some of these. You see when you want to accept its gift? You’ll have to prompt the trigger function for it. And sometimes this trigger is awkwardly specific for it to pop up. Though not that big of a deal, it kind of is sad to see it in a game that otherwise is polished to the core.
- Storytelling diversity overload | While the storytelling in itself is a herculean feat in itself, the diverse means by which it is being spoonfed to you is overwhelming at times. You’ve got cutscenes, animated cutscenes, a storyboard type cutscene called “skits” which play out as animated manga shorts, and last but not least the normal jRPG text popups where grunts and giggles never really convey the urgency of some of these text dialogues. As I said, it’s a herculean feat in itself by how they portrayed Tales of Arise’s story. But come on. Stick to one type and go full ham on them. While the skits often are side dialogues further fleshing out characters their quirks and backstory, they often come 2 or 3 times in a row. You see, these skits are optional to look at. You’ll see the message popping up, and if you miss it? It’s gone. But when you finish one skit, more often than not, a new one will be there for you to look at about someone else and whatnot.
- Hard to master | Tales of Arise has an immense arsenal for you to play around with. You can play as any character that you please. You already read about this in the easy to understand section. But if you truly want to get the max potential out of the game? You’ll have to sink a lot of hours into it. And I mean … A lot! For Tales of Arise can be completed by anyone, the truly cool stuff like limit breaking, performing insane combos, … lie in the finer details of the game. Where you are swapping in between characters during longer fights to keep the combo chain going, finetuning your combat strategies (something I recommend you do. A huge one is pulling the resurrect arte out of Shionne’s automated battle tactics because that arte just sucks up CP like there is no tomorrow), … So keep this in mind that should you want to get the maximum out of Tales of Arise then be sure to put on your study cap and buckle up. Also, keep in mind that the game doesn’t really fully explain some of your abilities all that well. So if you unlock something? And you don’t fully grasp it? Then look at your in-game summary. There you’ll often find more details.
What we disliked
- Are you daft? | Really, are you? Because. How can there be anything bad about this game! You bloody idjit…
How long to beat the story | 40+ hours, completionists will take around 80 to 100 hours.
How long to achieve 1000G | Same as above.
Similar with | Every Tales game out there.
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