Tales has been a long-running franchise of fantasy role-playing game (RPG) by Bandai Namco Entertainment and it has published over 16 main titles ever since 1995. It has often been referred to as one of the biggest RPG series in Japan following closely behind Final Fantasy, and both share plenty in common – each instalment is a standalone, with different settings and characters, but they all share the same gameplay and themes.
Releasing in a few months, Tales of Arise will be the first title in its entire series that has been developed using the Unreal 4 engine. It has been five years since their last release, Tales of Berseria, which came out in 2016. While the new title retains its successful formula of visual storytelling, it adds several new features and of course, a brand new tale of two heroes.
In Tales of Arise, players follow Alphen and Shionne, in their adventure to free their world Dahna from the oppressive rule of Renan. As players progress through the story, they’ll start to meet several unique characters who eventually joins them on their quest to break the chains of slavery.
The world of Tales of Arise is essentially a refreshing dive into a new territory that feels unusually familiar because of how the game sticks to its roots. From its vivid landscapes to riveting characters, it captures the essence of the Tales franchise while offering gamers an improved visual and battle experience.
Beyond a compelling heroic tale of freedom and destiny, the game features an identical gameplay experience from the previous Tale titles. Throughout the world, players will be able to walk around in a semi-open world filled with all types of enemies to look for items, quests, and chests.
In the demo session that we experienced, we started somewhere mid-game possibly since we had a roster of six characters. Besides our two protagonists, our party also had Rinwell, Law, Kisara, and Doharim.
These characters can be swapped around depending on who you want to use and who you want to be in your fighting team, which consists of four members. Sidelined characters won’t be part of the main battle but they can be called upon for a single attack move called “Boost Attacks”.
Every character has a range of different weapons and abilities unique to their own. Alphen, for example, is skilled with swords for Shionne, utilizes a rifle for range attacks. All of these moves use Tales’s signature “artes gauge” system, which regenerates over time in battle so you don’t have to worry about mana issues.
Each character also has their own “Signature Boost Attacks” which has a longer cooldown but deals a lot more damage. In addition to that, you can call upon any one of your three party members during your fights to pair up with you for another special attack unique to each teammate.
Instead of fighting enemies that are roaming in the world directly, Tales of Arise features a more classic approach and old school way of battling: RPG battle-screen shift, which means players will only engage enemies when they come close to them.
Once that happens, the game will shift into a battle mode, which is a circular 3D arena that consists of your team and the enemies that you encountered. Once you’re in this arena, it’s an all-out battle. Since you won’t be able to block in the game, utilizing dodges are key to surviving tough enemies.
Fighting in the new game feels identical to the previous titles but has an overall performance enhancement thanks to the new engine – combat now feels smoother and every hit has some weight to it.
Itemization is also simpler in Tales of Arise, whether that’s an improvement or not, it’s up to you to decide. Each character only has three item slots to equip, a weapon, an armour, and an accessory. While it might be little to some, we believe the game compensates this with its other strengths.
For fans of the Tales franchise, Tales of Arise is a worthy return to the series because of its improved features including visuals and gameplay. Even with our short time with the demo, Bandai’s upcoming title offers a great JRPG experience with its dynamic combat system and familiar aesthetics.
Tales of Arise will release on 9 September 2021 for PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and 10 September for PC via Steam in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia).