It’s a common thought that when you think of the Japanese RPG genre, your mind immediately turns to a slow, turn-based affair that’s slowly gone out of style over the past two decades. Hell, even the Final Fantasy series has abandoned the turn-based battles of old, and are now embracing the new normal of third-person action combat systems, as seen in Final Fantasy VIII: Remake and the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI. However, there’s always been a single outlier. Bandai Namco’s Tales series has always done things a little bit differently, ever since its first entry, Tales of Phantasia.
Unfortunately for Bandai Namco’s flagship Tales series, they’ve been stuck in a rut. They’ve never really broken out of the confines of niche interest, unlike more recent successes such as Atlus’ well-known Persona franchise. This past decade, the series has never really managed to break itself out of a hyper-anime stylization, forgettable characters, and all-around dated game design. With the recently released Tales of Arise, they’ve gone back to the drawing board. The question is, have all their efforts managed to wake this dormant franchise?
Bandai Namco wants to tell you a tale
After numerous delays due to COVID-19, Tales of Arise sets you up as Iron Mask, a slave to a race of humans known as the Rhenans after his planet was conquered 300 years ago. After some preamble and a fair amount of proper nouns, you learn that things aren’t looking great for old Iron Mask and his race of Dhanans on the planet, with almost every region in the world having an underclass of natives, enslaved by their Rhenan masters. Naturally, you pull a flaming sword out of our pink-haired heroine Shionne, a Rhenan who is looking to topple the ruling class in every region of the planet.
The plot takes you to various lush locales and frozen wastes, as you trudge through the world, looking to emancipate the race of enslaved native Dhanans. You’ll pick up new party members along the way, and be able to chat with them through a comic-book style “Skit” system as you run through the overworld, where their musings can range from the menial, all the way over to sudden personal crises.
There are hundreds of these skits peppered throughout your journey in Tales of Arise, and they all add to a more cohesive feeling for your party, who are each to their own an excellent cast of names and faces such as Kisara, a guard who obsesses over her love of fishing, or Dohalim; whose idealistic nature has also been his folly. Once all six cast members are in your party, they all mesh and work together with some realistic banter from skits, in addition to having their own personalities clash throughout the course of the main story. Whereas at first, it was difficult to get invested in the world of Tales of Arise, no thanks to some fairly large exposition dumpage near the start, you begin to become invested in both the stakes of the characters and story in earnest.
Bolstered by an extremely pulpy tone and style, don’t expect deep dives into the nature of the human condition. Instead, think of it like episodes of a well-produced Shonen Anime or Manga. For those looking for something a little more serious and mature, you might have to look elsewhere. Thankfully, Tales of Arise doesn’t like to fall into the same fanservice trap a lot of Anime JRPGs fall into by leering at their female cast, which makes it much more appealing to stick with.
The game will take you to countless beautifully crafted areas and wide-open zones that you’re free to explore, with progression to new areas locked to your progress in the main story in a semi-open world format. These areas can range from being fairly expansive in the first half of the game, to becoming a lot more linear towards the latter half. This is fairly unfortunate, as the slate of wider areas is a genuine joy to explore and traverse through. Finding new items, unlocking new cosmetics, and peeking around the corner to see if you accidentally run into one of the game’s many superbosses is always a joy.
The maps also have camping spots dotted around, too- which allow you to get equipped at a shop, take a rest, cook food for buffs, and get to know your party a little bit better. There is a basic “relationship” system in the game, where you select the party member you wish to chat with, and after a certain number of times, you will unlock a new powerful skill for them to perform in combat.
Hack and slash and sometimes you dash
One of the Tales series’ greatest strong suits has been its fantastic combat system, which breaks into fast-paced action as soon as you run into an enemy on the overworld. You have artes, which are unlockable from Skill Panels, which unlock at certain points during the story, or by completing side content. With these skills in hand, you are able to equip up to 12 during combat and assign whatever you like to each of the face buttons.
Usage of skills is not unlimited, however. Each one takes up either one or two uses of your Action Gauge, which is built up over time during battle. Artes that have one use of the Action Gauge will freely flow into the higher, more powerful artes that take up two portions of the gauge. This allows you to flow between these two tiers of skill, creating your own unique, free-flowing combos that can take you up to the skies, and right back down again.
You can even play as any of the characters in your party, who each have their own distinct fighting styles and artes. Law is quick, spry, and heavily combo focussed, while Kisara is much more tank-like, with slower, heavier damaging moves instead. Though, when playing as Iron Mask, you gain the ability to use the blazing sword at the end of certain skills, sacrificing some health to dish out even more damage. With an additional elemental system in place to exploit enemy weaknesses, this unholy mashup of Devil May Cry and God Hand feels fantastic and satisfying at every turn.
Against certain mobs, you are able to exploit their defenses by getting your party members to lend a hand. Dohalim is able to bind moving enemies in place, for example. Despite this, Tales of Arise, unfortunately, makes liberal use of enemy reskins, to the detriment of the game.
After 50 hours, fighting a stronger version of the same mobs you were tackling 20 hours ago begins to feel like old hat. If it were not for the sheer complexity in the feeling and customization of the combat itself, seeing this game through to its end would have felt like a slog.
A common thread throughout playing Tales of Arise is just how much has been done when in comparison to older titles such as Tales of Berseria and Zestiria before it. The franchise has never undergone such a significant change since 2003’s Tales of Symphonia, where the series finally moved to 3D.
Through these changes and the strength of Motoi Sakuraba’s excellent score, Tales of Arise represents a beloved franchise, reborn. Though it begins to falter in its closing hours, it represents a new life and much like the game’s plot would inspire hope for Bandai Namco’s flagship JRPG series.
You May Like AlsoPrebuilt Gaming PC Under $500Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $800Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $1000Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $1500Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $2000Best RTX 3060 & 3060 Ti Prebuilt Gaming PC in 2022Best RTX 3070 Prebuilt Gaming PC In 2022Best RTX 3080 Prebuilt Gaming PC In 2022Best RTX 3080 Ti Prebuilt Gaming PC in 2022Best RTX 3090 Prebuilt Gaming PC in 2022Best Gaming PC Under $300Best Gaming PC Under $400Best Gaming PC Under $500Best Gaming PC Under $600Best Gaming PC Under $700Best Gaming PC Under $800Best Gaming PC Under $1000Best Gaming PC Under $1500Best Gaming PC Under $2000Best Gaming PC Under $3000Best Gaming PC Under $5000Best Gaming PC for WarzoneAlienware Desktop Gaming PCHow To Benchmark Your Gaming PC144Hz & 165Hz Gaming LaptopsGaming Laptop Under $1000Gaming Laptop Under $1500Gaming Laptop Under $2000Gaming Laptop Under $2500ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)Razer Blade Pro 17 1080p 360Hz (2021)Razer Blade 14 1440p 165Hz (2021)XMG Neo 15 E21 / Eluktronics MECH-15 G3 (2021)XMG Neo 15 E22 / Eluktronics MECH-15 G3 (2022) & OASIS Liquid Cooling ReviewBest Laptops For AnimationBest Laptop For Video EditingBest Laptop Table & Laptop TrayAMD Ryzen 6000 Series LaptopDell Laptop Docking StationHP Laptop Docking StationHow To Delete Apps On ChromebookHow To Turn Off Caps Lock On ChromebookChromebook Won’t Turn On?How To Connect AirPods To ChromebookFriday Night Funkin Chromebook Installation GuideHow To Screen Record On ChromebookHow To Restart Chromebook DevicesHow To Copy and Paste On ChromebookHow To Screenshot On Chromebook DevicesHow To Right Click On A ChromebookAuto Clicker for Chromebook DevicesBest Intel 11th Gen MotherboardBest Intel 12th Gen MotherboardBest HDMI 2.1 Gaming MonitorBest Ultrawide Gaming MonitorBest 144hz Gaming MonitorBest Cheap 144Hz Gaming MonitorBest 240hz Gaming MonitorBest Monitor Size for GamingBest Console Gaming MonitorBest Xbox Series X Gaming MonitorBest Monitor for Xbox Series SBest Gaming Chair under $300Best Gaming Chair under $200Best Gaming Chair under $100Best Console Gaming ChairBest Gaming Keyboard under $100Best Wireless Mechanical KeyboardsBest Gaming Keyboard under $50Keyboard & Mouse Combo XboxKeyboard & Mouse Combo PlaystationBest Keyboad & Mouse Combo PCBest Wireless Gaming MouseBest Gaming Mouse under $50Best Gaming Mouse under $30Best Wireless Gaming HeadsetBest Gaming Headset under $100Best Gaming Headset under $50Best Ethernet Cable for GamingGenshin Impact CharactersLost Ark Review in ProgressKingdom of The Dead ReviewYugioh Master Duel ReviewPokémon Legends: Arceus ReviewFNAF Security Breach Game ReviewFinal Fantasy 14: Endwalker Game ReviewHalo Infinite Game ReviewHalo Infinite Multiplayer Game ReviewPokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl ReviewCall of Duty: Vanguard Game ReviewForza Horizon 5 Game ReviewSuper Monkey Ball Banana Mania Game ReviewTales of Arise Game ReviewAge of Empires IV Game ReviewNickelodeon All-Star Brawl Game ReviewSonic Colors Ultimate Game ReviewTotal War Warhammer 3 Faction Tier ListYugioh Master Duel Deck Tier ListHow To Reduce CPU TemperaturesHow To Stress Test Your CPUHow to Overclock Your CPUHow to Update CPU DriversHow to Use AMD Ryzen Master12900K vs 11900K vs 10900KThermal Grease Vs Paste Vs PadsNvidia RTX 4000 Series: All We Know About Lovelace GPUsWhy Are Graphics Cards So Expensive?What Is a GPU Stress Test, and Which Ones Are Best?Gigabyte RTX 3080 Ti Gaming OC 12GRX 6900 XT vs RTX 3080 TiASUS ROG Strix RTX 3080 12GBGigabyte RTX 3080 Ti Gaming OC 12GGigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC 10GASUS TUF AMD Radeon RX 6500 XTSapphire Pulse AMD Radeon RX 6600Best Intel 11th Gen MotherboardBest Intel 12th Gen MotherboardMotherboard ManufacturingHow To Check Your MotherboardHow to Update Your Motherboard BIOSHow to Enter Motherboard BIOSB560 vs Z590 MotherboardsB560 vs B460 MotherboardsCPU Fan vs CPU Fan OPT HeadersBest Ethernet Cable for GamingInternet Speed For GamingWhat Power Supply Do I Have?Full vs Semi vs Non Modular PSUIs Liquid Cooling Worth ItBest HDMI 2.1 Gaming MonitorBest Ultrawide Gaming MonitorBest 144hz Gaming MonitorBest 240hz Gaming MonitorBest Monitor Size for GamingBest Console Gaming MonitorBest Xbox Series X Gaming MonitorBest Monitor for Xbox Series SHow To Change Monitor Refresh RateHow To Overclock Your MonitorHow To Use Laptop as MonitorHow to Clean a Monitor ScreenWhat to Look for in a Gaming MonitorG-Sync vs G-Sync Compatible60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240HzBest Gaming Chair under $300Best Gaming Chair under $200Best Gaming Chair under $100Best Console Gaming ChairNoblechairs Epic Copper EditionEwinRacing Flash XL SeriesSecretlab Titan EVO 2022 SeriesAre Gaming Chairs Worth It?Gaming Chair vs Office ChairA Console-Lover’s Beginners Guide To PC GamingBest Gaming Keyboard under $100Best Wireless Mechanical KeyboardsBest Gaming Keyboard under $50Keyboard & Mouse Combo XboxKeyboard & Mouse Combo PlaystationBest Keyboad & Mouse Combo PCASUS ROG Strix Flare II AnimateVarmilo MA87M Beijing OperaCorsair K70 MK2 Low ProfileDucky 'Year of the Dog' RGBMechanical Switches GuideWhat is a Mechanical Keyboard?Best Wireless Gaming HeadsetBest Gaming Headset under $100Best Gaming Headset under $50Best Wireless Gaming MouseBest Gaming Mouse under $50Best Gaming Mouse under $30Razer Viper Ultimate vs G Pro WirelesSteelSeries Aerox 3 WirelessHow To Enable TPM 2.0 In BIOS for Windows 11Windows 11 Home Vs Pro: What Are The Differences?What is Vulkan RunTime Libraries?How To Optimise Windows 10 For GamingHow To Check Computer SpecsBest Gaming Streaming ServicesBest Free Antivirus SoftwareBest Operating System for GamingHow To Use MSI AfterburnerHow To Update Gigabyte BIOSHow To Reduce CPU TemperaturesHow To Stress Test Your CPUHow To Stress Test Your GPUHow To Lower GPU TemperaturesHow To Check Your MotherboardAM5 Socket: Everything We KnowHow To Apply Thermal PasteHow To Change Monitor Refresh RateHow To Overclock Your MonitorHow To Use Laptop as MonitorPC Component CompatibilityHow To Use Anti Static Wrist StrapHow To Tell If your PC Can Run A GameHow To Check Computer SpecsHow To Use Xbox S/X Controller on PCHow To Use a Keyboard and Mouse XboxHow To Use PS5 Controller on a PCHow To Use a Keyboard and Mouse PS4How To Use PS4 Controller on PCHow To Use PS3 Controller on PCHow To Use MSI AfterburnerHow To Update Gigabyte BIOSHow To Add Roles in DiscordHow To Stop Discord OpeningHow To Report Discord ServerHow To Block Ads on TwitchHow To Change Twitch NameHow To Get Bits on TwitchHow To Appear Offline on SteamHow To Unhide Games on SteamHow To Install a DLC on SteamHow To Share Games on SteamHow To Fix Steam Slow DownloadHow To Find Your Steam IDHow To Uninstall Epic Games LauncherEpic Games Launcher Not Working?Where Does Epic Games Install Games?How To Delete Epic Games AccountHow To Unlink Epic Games AccountSytem Requirements - GamesForza 4 Horizon System RequirementsBattlefield 2042 System RequirementsFortnite System RequirementsCS GO System RequirementsCyberpunk 2077 System RequirementsMinecraft System RequirementsLeague Of Legends System RequirementsEscape From Tarkov System RequirementsValorant System RequirementsGTA V System RequirementsDOTA 2 System RequirementsAdobe Photoshop System RequirementsAdobe Premiere Pro System RequirementsWindows 10 System RequirementsWindows 7 System RequirementsAdobe Creative Cloud System RequirementsComputer Gaming and WellbeingVideo Game Industry StatisticsVideo Gaming Monetization StatisticsGaming Video Content Market StatisticsGamer - Audiences, Behaviour, preferences & Time SpentConsole Gaming StatisticsEsports Gaming StatisticsRise Of MicrotransactionsNintendo Switch Prime Day DealsVideo Game Prime Day DealsComputer Black Friday DealsGaming PC Black Friday DealsLaptop Black Friday DealsMotherboard Black Friday DealsGaming Mice Black Friday DealsGaming Desk Black Friday DealsGaming Headset Black Friday DealsGaming Chair Black Friday DealsMonitor Black Friday DealsCyber Monday Gaming PC Deals 2022Cyber Monday Laptop Deals 2022Gaming Laptop Cyber Monday 2022 DealsTV Cyber Monday Deals 202255 Inch TV Cyber Monday Deals 2022Gaming Keyboard Cyber Monday DealsGaming Chair Cyber Monday DealsCyber Monday VR Deals 2022Secretlab Cyber Monday Deals 2022Alienware Cyber Monday deals 2022Amazon Cyber Monday Deals 2022AMD Cyber Monday Deals 2022Apple Cyber Monday Deals 2022ASUS Cyber Monday Deals 2022Corsair Cyber Monday Deals 2022CyberPowerPC Cyber Monday Deals 2022Samsung Cyber Monday DealsTales of Series — All the Tales Games In OrderTales of Arise System Requirementspic.twitter.com/TdyFknLtYfBandai Namco’s flagship JRPG seriesIs Overwatch 2 a separate game?Overwatch 2’s Sojourn abilities leak, gets a new story trailerHands-on: SCUF Instinct Pro Wireless performance controllerPokémon GO Battle League Day: Beginner’s Paradise best teamsLearn about our review processGhostwire Tokyo Review: Arthouse cinema meets gamingDestiny 2: The Witch Queen Review – A shining light in the darknessShadow Warrior 3 game review – cruel, but such good fun, when it worksLost Ark review in progress – Addictively fun combat is its biggest strengthThe Rise of MicrotransactionsA Brief History of Video Games