Geek Preview: Cris Tales

Time travel is not a foreign concept in role-playing games (RPG), with games like Chrono Trigger featuring mechanics that allow players to travel to another time period through gates. But perhaps no other game embodies the concept of time travel as fully as Cris Tales, an upcoming indie RPG by Modus Games. 

According to developer Modus Games, Cris Tales is a love letter to classic Japanese RPGs such as the aforementioned Chrono Trigger, the first ten mainline Final Fantasy games, and Bravely Default. It features elements commonly seen in classic JRPGs, such as turn-based combat, the ability to recruit members into your party to fight alongside you, and numerous side quests to take part in.

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In the game, you play as Time Mage Crisbell, who as her title suggests, has the impressive ability to manipulate time and space. She sets out on a journey across various kingdoms to stop the powerful Time Empress from unleashing a cataclysmic power that threatens to tear apart her world.

Players will be able to fully utilise Crisbell’s time manipulation abilities in battle, where she can bring her opponents backwards and forwards in time, which makes for some truly interesting battles. 

For example, if you poison an enemy and have Crisbell fast forward their time, you will immediately see the enemies taking a ton of damage instead of small incremental damages over time. This is just one of the many ways you can make use of Crisbell’s time manipulation abilities. 

In Cris Tales, players will be able to recruit members into your party, with up to two members being available to fight alongside Crisbell at any one time. These party members will each bring their own set of skills to use in tandem with Crisbell’s. Players can also synchronize attacks within the party for enhanced group attacks. After winning a battle, your party will be awarded EXP points to level up and get stronger to face more powerful enemies. 

As mentioned, Cris Tales lives and breathes time travel and this is evident in the main UI of the game, which is divided into three parts, giving players a clear look at the past, present, and future simultaneously. Crisbell can then send her animal companion into the past or future to interact with the people there, which can sometimes alter the course of events in the present and future. Various different choices can be made and the ending of the game will ultimately depend on the actions and choices you make throughout your journey.

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One example of this is how you can send an antidote you found in the present to save a character from dying, which effectively alters their future in the game’s story. As with many other RPGs, there are various side quests for players to partake in and said side quests can also have ramifications for the future of the game’s story. 

A character you choose to save in a side quest might come back later to help you, but should you choose to ignore him, he’ll simply die and you will never encounter him again as the game progresses.

All this is told through beautifully hand-drawn 2D art. According to Modus Games, the art team in charge of Cris Tales not only drew the base art for the game, but also every possible future that could happen in the game. One such example is in the city of Saint Clarity. You will be given the option of painting houses there red, green, or blue, and later have the opportunity to save the city from being submerged in water, which will once again affect the appearance of the house. Every possible outcome is an additional artwork the development team had to work on.

With all the different futures and outcomes you can achieve in the game, you will be left wanting to retry it all over again once you are done with your first playthrough. You can even experiment playing the game differently on your second try or after you have reached the game’s true ending, perhaps this time you won’t save anyone, and see how the game’s ending turns out to be. 

Cris Tales is slated to release on 17 November for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia. However, if you’re eager to try out the game before its release, there is a demo on Steam for you to play now. 

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