Cris Tales Preview
There have been a lot of RPG titles coming out lately that draw inspiration from nostalgic 90s JRPGs, but there’s nothing out there quite like Cris Tales. From the Disney and anime-inspired character designs to art direction so slick it’s hard to tell where cutscene ends and gameplay begins, Cris Tales looks absolutely gorgeous–and with over 2 hours of orchestral music and fully-voiced dialogue, it sounds absolutely gorgeous as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a weakness for stylish games, especially stylish games that draw inspiration from 90s JRPGs, but Cris Tales doesn’t just talk the talk. This game also contains a complex branching narrative, an intricate combat system, and beautifully designed dungeons, all of which are connected to the game’s premise: protagonist Crisbell can see and control time.
Time, Stand Still
For most of the game, you’ll be experiencing the past, present, and future simultaneously, with each occupying a third of the screen. This sounds confusing, but in practice, it’s conveyed clearly enough to feel natural. Most of the game mechanics involve tampering with the past or future to help Crisbell achieve her goals, whether the goal is to get a fruit from a seed she just planted or to remove her foes’ ability to steal her items mid-battle. The split-screen approach allows players to make decisions with more information, which very is important. The past is on the left and the future is on the right, which is a recurring theme throughout the game. Actions in the past or present will directly affect the future you see.
The first part of the game is dedicated to Crisbell and company traveling from Kingdom to Kingdom and doing quests. At the end of each chapter, a decision point will be available depending on what you accomplished. Each Kingdom has four different potential outcomes–some of which could end in the Kingdom being completely destroyed. The sidequests you perform will help determine what happens to the Kingdoms and their inhabitants. The rest of the game is more open, allowing players to go wherever they want, even if that means encountering a dragon.
A World of Adventure
The world of Cris Tales is sprawling, beautiful, and filled with dungeons. Each dungeon has unique mechanics–such as teleporters, moveable blocks, and platforms that must be powered up to access different locations–that add additional complexity to navigating it, with each dungeon getting more complex and intricate as you progress through the game. They’re all absolutely gorgeous and fascinating to explore.
The title also offers over twenty bosses, each of which has its own unique ways of interacting with Crisbell’s time powers. For example, bosses may swim to other sides of the screen in order to travel through time mid-battle, summon objects from behind you if you try to send them into the future, or even brainwash Crisbell to make her use her time powers in unhelpful or harmful ways. That brainwashing thing sounds especially interesting–plenty of RPGs feature a charm or berserk feature, but how many have the boss outright control your protagonist’s mind? This mechanic is sure to make boss battles even tenser and more unpredictable.
All in all, Cris Tales looks like a stunning tribute to classic JRPGs and an incredibly fun game in its own right. Dreams Uncorporated has created something very special here and I can’t wait to get my hands on the final build. I’m looking forward to arranging a party of stylish characters that look exactly the same in-game as they do in cutscenes and tossing foes from one side of the screen to the other to change their move sets.
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.