Developed by the British indie studio CooCooSqueaky and published by PQube, Tears of Avia is a turn-based strategy JRPG that exhales anime references in every corner. Controlling a group of misfits in a world torn by war, you will guide the Seeker in a quest to reunite the Tears of Avia and protect the world of Estera.
As foretold in an ancient prophecy from the magical Land of Avalon, the Seeker will need all the help he can find to defeat the curse and stop the demon Vylenkine. Do you have what it takes to protect Estera? I’m sure you do. But before advancing, find out in our review if this is a world worth saving.
What we liked!
- Your group of heroes: You will start the game by selecting one of 5 heroes, each one from a traditional RPG class: Kai, the warrior, a knight from the city of Trig, Reina, the Ranger, an expert hunter who lives in the wild landscapes of Estera, Iris, the mage, a fiery and hot-tempered self-assured master of magic, Raul, the Brawler, a natural-born brawler from the city of Toldred, and Momoko, the Priest, an orphan raised by elder priestess of Liath. You will live this adventure through the eyes of your choice’s character, who will soon be revealed to be the Seeker, the one responsible for finding the Tears of Avia. The other heroes will join you in this quest right after the first missions, creating a very heterogeneous group of heroes. Besides the heroes, other characters will join your group from time to time, building a diverse and resourceful team.
- Sound: If there’s one thing I will always remember this game by is its marvelous soundtrack. This title’s compositions are simply superb – especially the game’s introduction, sung by a beautiful female voice. A piece of music that made me wonder if I should press start to start playing right away or should stay on the title screen listening to it over and over again. And also the incredible Japanese voice acting of your heroes and other important characters throughout the story – something that will immediately make you fall in love with this game.
- Skills and equipment: In Tears of Avia, your characters have access to a skill-tree where you can learn combat technics and passive skills every time you level up. Not only will your heroes learn skills, but the weapons they carry can also give you access to different skills and abilities. Counting with 30+ skills each, you can fully customize your character according to your playstyle! Remember that skills and abilities are related to your character’s class – so don’t expect to see a cleric using sword skills or a mage using fighter technics. You can also upgrade your abilities and technics by using rare to find and expensive materials. You better choose what spells are more important to you when leveling them up.
- Visuals: The visuals in Tears of Avia are really something! It has a beautiful anime-like vibe with colorful and very expressive characters that could figure in your favorite anime at any time! Your spells stay no far behind and show some impressive animations and visual effects – not all of them, I must say, but we’ll talk about them later. The scenarios where your adventure will take place, be it inside cities or dungeons, show some nice 3D visuals. Unlike your characters, though, NPCs and passers-by have fewer details than expected but are still pleasant to see. And everything in 4K up to 120 FPS – if you have a display that supports it.
- Not so different story: Although you have five characters to start your adventure with, besides their origin story, there’s no difference at all in the development of the story (or at least, I haven’s seen any with the characters I created) once they meet: there are minor variations in your point of view of the story according to your main character. The publisher’s website says there’s a dynamic storyline with side missions triggered by discussions between different characters. However, I’ve played it to the point I’m still waiting to see them (or maybe I played them without noticing they were side missions… who knows).
- Awkward progression: Some players will be very frustrated with the giant leap in difficulty during the first hours of their adventure. A good challenge is vital to captivate players and keep them evolving in the game – you know that. Still, here you’ll get frustrated with how hard some battles after the initial hours can be. It’s ok (and even expected) the need to go back a few stages to farm and get some more levels before advancing, but as I was able to gain 20+ levels in a single fight (for real!) with some of my characters, this progression felt awkward. It’s cool because you will quickly unlock your most powerful spells and skills, but at the same time, they lose that feeling of being powerful as you can learn them after a couple of fights.
What we disliked
- The not-so-good attack visuals: Although the game’s visuals are good, some animations – from your most powerful attacks, it’s important to mention – are merely disappointing. Do you remember how amazing it was to summon Knights of the Round or Ultimate Bahamut in Final Fantasy VII? We always expect our ultimate attacks to be something you look forward to using. Still, here you will want to avoid them (or at least, skipping them) as their animations are unsatisfying. You better focus on using your lighter skills (which have a shorter cooldown, it’s important to mention) to keep the fight more interesting.
- Battle numbers: Tears of Avia is a turn-based strategy RPG. First of all, if you’re not a fan of the genre, the simplicity in this title may be inviting for you to try it. But for those accustomed to the genre… well, it may look a little too simple. While on the world map, you can select points of interest (dungeons or cities) where you will enter with your group. If it is a city, you will be able to explore it, talk to NPCs and buy items and equipment for your heroes. If it is not a city, you will engage in battles with pre-determined enemies (varying from a few to 20+ at the same time!). At first, you will deploy and move your characters on the battlefield and use skills and abilities to deal with the enemies – you go first, they go right after. If there are too many enemies in a stage, not all will move or do something. Hell, they will stay stuck and do nothing until you get closer to them. Wonder why placing that many enemies in a single fight if they are not going to do anything – even though they have the advantage of numbers?
- Yes, there are bugs: I have run into a single bug during my time reviewing Tears of Avia. It wasn’t game-breaking, but sure it wasn’t very pleasant. During combats, sometimes part of the sound effects (being more specific, your character’s and enemies’ voices) stopped working. And even after finishing the battle and starting a new one, it didn’t come back. To repair it, I had to restart the game. Again, not a game-breaking bug, but indeed an irritating one.
- Enemy repetition: You and I know it’s common to fight lookalike enemies in Adventure, RPGs, or FPS games. By chance, do you remember Xbox 360 Rambo, for instance? In Tears of Avia, the variation of enemies is almost non-existent. Battles in the same region often contain only 2 or 3 enemy types, and they only vary in quantity. And even when you return to a previously visited area to farm, those same enemies will be there waiting for you – in the same positions and using the same attack patterns. There’s no variation whatsoever, making farming in this game something you will want to avoid at all costs.
Even though it presents an impressive art style and outstanding music and voice acting, it’s hard to say that Tears of Avia will find someone to loves it. It has an interesting story and character development, but this same development falls flat on the floor with a very awkward progression system. And its battle system, the core of a strategic RPG game, left me with a feeling that something is missing in it. I wouldn’t dare to say it’s an unfinished job, as other reviewers have already said it is, but it certainly needed some more polishing. You can find (almost) everything a good strategy RPG game needs in this title, but it still misses THAT special thing that would make it memorable and remarkable.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.