Tales of Arise Review
The Tales series has always held a special place in my gaming heart, so you can imagine my anticipation when Tales of Arise was first announced. Having played a number of the past games (mostly of the more contemporary variety), it has become clear that the Tales series has a level of consistency in regards to the games’ quality. For those who have played a Tales game in the past, Tales of Arise doesn’t rewrite the formula, but it definitely improves on it in some ways while making some potentially unpopular choices.
Tales of Arise puts players into the role of Alphen, a native of the world of Dahna. The game takes place in a setting that sees two worlds, Dahna and Rena, at odds with Rena utilizing their technology and magic to oppress Dahna for their resources. As Alphen, players will unite with Shionne, a Renan, and an overall likable cast of characters. Like other Tales games, Tales of Arise touches on some similar themes as previous games, but that doesn’t make it repetitive.
The narrative of the game does well with providing players with an introduction to the world. The game throws players into the thick of the action, which is reminiscent of a few other classic titles. While this differs from some other Tales games, it is a nice change of pace and players get a taste of the action quickly. Where Tales of Arise shines are its characters who all have their own personalities, quirks, and motivations. While the characters themselves are interesting, they shine when interacting with one another, particularly in skits. Skits allow for a break in the action in which characters interact with one another in a “semi-cutscene,” usually related to an event that had just occurred.
As a JRPG, Tales of Arise features two main portions within its gameplay loop. The first portion is related to navigation, exploration, and upgrading characters and equipment. Tales of Arise’s out-of-battle experience is quite strong, featuring interesting maps and a proper amount of content within them. The maps are appropriately sized and have the right number of items, enemies, and things to find. With these objects, players are able to craft, cook, and otherwise upgrade their characters. While these features have seemingly become a staple in JRPGs, Tales of Arise still holds true to the series’ formula and does it well.
The second portion, the combat system, is relatively unique compared to other JRPGs. While the game features enemies on the map like some other games, its battles still take place within an instance. How the Tales games differ is that this instance is a real-time combat system that resembles a bit of a cross between beat ‘em ups and fighting games. Unlike more recent games, Tales of Arise is now a solely single-player experience, whereas previous games allowed for multiplayer gameplay within combat. Despite this, Tales of Arise’s combat is fun and fluid, and the “Boost Strike” feature which allows multiple party members to attack together is a nice addition. It should be noted that I did utilize some of the DLC, which made the game somewhat easier to move forward.
Tales of Arise’s graphical prowess lies in its art direction more than photorealism. While some designs did feel a bit generic at times, the anime style that Arise presents is about what one would expect from the game. What was a bit surprising was that some of the settings were simply beautiful, and Tales of Arise has definitely stepped it up. While the character designs are on point, it was great to see the series continue to iterate and present itself to a wider audience while keeping that Tales feel. The anime sequences were also produced by Ufotable, which is a nice touch.
The game’s audio is about what one might expect from a JRPG. The game features a great-sounding theme song, having both an English and Japanese version. Like the theme song, the game’s voice acting also has dual audio, and players have the option to go with English or Japanese voices, and player choice is always great to have.
As a long-time fan of the series, Tales of Arise was a fresh but familiar experience. The game iterated on the series formula enough to keep progressing the series while maintaining the Tales charm. The combat system is as fluid as ever, and I found it to be engaging and fun. The area that the game shines the most is in its characters, both during the course of the main story or the skits that break up the action. Overall, Tales of Arise is a great example of a classic series that keeps improving while maintaining its identity.
*** A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher ***
Classic Tales feel
Wonderfully designed characters
At times generic