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Shagger Says: Tales of Arise

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PC Game Review


At long last, after well over 70 hours, I'm ready to publish my thoughts on Tales of Arise, the game that somehow manages to be longer than even the very series it's part off, or at least it felt that way at times. Not that this game was a waste of my time, far from it, but the first thing you need to know if you're interseted in this is you're in for the long haul;




And that's with a great many side activities and challenges still to do, so the game certainly isn't lacking in content. But I'm getting well ahead of myself. Now my reviews are also knows be being similarly... em.. "detailed", but I'll do my best to keep it reigned in, but as you can imagine there is rather a lot to get into. So, get ready boys and girls, daddy has spoken and it's time to tell the tale of my experiance with Tales of Arise.




Just a couple of things:

  1. Whilst I will not spoil the story, this review may contain some minor spoilers when the characters are described and the review will go into the initial set up for the story and the world of the game. Also be aware that there my be spoilers in the discussion through the thread responses as well.
  2. The game is rated "teen" with the ESRB, so the images, video and language used in this review will reflect that rating.
  3. I don't foresee any of the imagery nor video I'll be using triggering phobia's nor medical problems, but if you are prone to such conditions, please have somebody check before reading on.


Performance and Graphics


This being a PC game, it is important to get a sense of how well it runs so you can gauge how suitable your set up will be.


Now, one of things that one has to understand about Japan is that Japanese gamers don't embrace new consoles as quickly as you might think. The previous Tales game, Tales of Berseria, did release on PS4 and PC, but technically those were ports of the PS3 version of the game as the game was actually only made for that console, and that's a game that came out as late as 2017. So really, it's no surprise to see Bandai Namco release this game that's barely meant to test a PS4 in 2021. So don't expect this game to push you GTX 3090 to the limit or anything, but in at least one way that's a good thing because you don't a powerhouse to run this thing.




And on my hardware;




The results were... actually not good as I expected. At max settings at 1080p,I was hovering between 50fps-70fps, but there were times in certain area's I was dipping below 40fps. But there were times I was running at over 90fps, it certainly wasn't stable throughout the experience. Yes, at least 95% of the 70+ hours I was playing this the FPS never really dipped to a point that I actually would have noticed if I wasn't looking for it, but it did happen occasionally. All this in a game that doesn't really justify this kind of hardware struggling like this given the overall graphical fidelity. This may be a 2021 game, but like I said this is NOT the equivalent of a PS5 game. This is a PS4 game.


There was also some minor clipping issues and the hair looked it it was lifted out of a PS2 era Final Fantasy game, although to be fair that could be looked at as a stylistic choice as, like any Tales game, it's meant to look like an anime. Many of the lines and textures, especially on clothing, just looked that little bit fuzzy close up. The biggest issue though was the pop-ins. Every time I entered an area things in the environment such as trees and textures on buildings as cliffs would pop in within a period of about ten seconds or so after entering a new area. The things is, the load times for me were actually very short, so it looked like you're being thrown back into the game before the textures have had a chance to load into the environments properly. It's not enough to ruin the game, but is enough to notice.


Despite these performance issues, this still manages to be a beautiful game.









It's rich, colourful environments are marvellous and varied. I loved the animations, especially in combat, and world has this hand built feel. In terms of the art style and palate, it's gorgeous. I just wish some of these performance issues weren't there.


The main character models look good as well with plenty of options to customise thier appearance. Many of these items are obtained through quests or finding owl mascots hidden throughout the game. You can even equip the current weapons and armour with skins of your old equipment which is a nice touch.


Overall, it is technically a bit last week and at least for me on PC is marred by one or two technical issues, but it's still a real treat for the eyes. Important for a game you're going to have to stare at for over 60 hours to complete and probably closer to 100 hours to 100%.



Combat and Exploration


This is the point where everyone who writes reviews or guides on these types of games really earn thier money because the key to every good JRPG is having a combat system that is far easier to use then it is to explain. So by reading this section and necessitating it being here, I just want you to know that I hate you.


I have played a little bit of Tales of Zestira and Tales of Symphonia, but the only other Tales game I've played extensively is Tales of Berseria, and as whilst Tales games have thier subtle differences, the philosophy of combat is very similar each time. That philosophy being two fold;

  1. The characters run around in combat saying the names of the moves thier using for... reasons.
  2. It's about a combination strategy and skill based processes.


Here is clip of the combat I captured. Check it out, then we'll break it down.



First, the battle screen itself;





I was using a controller, so I'm building what I say off of that.


Firstly, there are three choices on how to control this game;

  1. Manual where you move the party leader and control thier actions (That's the way I played).
  2. Semi-auto where you control the actions of the party leader, but not thier movement.
  3. Full auto where you only control the boost attacks and QTE based attacks, effectively turning Tales of Arise into a full-on strategy game.


The right shoulder button is used to attack normally, where as the right trigger is used to dodge. Normal attacks have standard power and no special effects or elements, but also don't use up souls to be performed (check the image for the "Souls Gauge"). Artes are special attacks that do additional damage and/or carry special effects, such as elemental damage. Depending on thier power, they can cost from one to three souls to perform. If your character runs out of souls, they are unable to use any more arts for a time and have thier regular attacks more easily interrupted, so avoid that at all costs. Souls will recharge over time, but can also be charged with certain good combat practices like dodges and counters if that character has the right perks. That little souls gauge may not look very conspicuous, but it is at the heart of everything you do in combat.


I mainly played as Alphen (The iron Mask) in the game. He has an additional aspect to his combat that consists of charge attacks with the burning sword. By holding down the assigned control, he unleashes powerful fire based attacks at the cost of said attacks hurting himself in the process.


Friend or foe alike can be strong or weak against certain attacks, so select what artes you want to use wisely for the combat environment. In regular combat, there basically two types.

  1. Astral Artes. Basically, this worlds equivalent of magic. These are elemental attacks that need charged before they are used then strike at a distance.
  2. Martial Artes. These are the physical special attacks, but can be elemental as well.


Over time, and accelerated by stinging combos together, a character can charge up a boost attack (see the picture tor the boost attack indicators on the bottom left of the screen). You can still use a a character's boost attack even if they aren't in the main party by holding down the left trigger. This is also how you access your alternate set of artes for the character you're currently controlling. You can use these powerful attacks simply to do damage or help string combos together, but they can also be used tactically as each characters boost attack has a unique effect on certain types of enemies or enemy actions:

  • Alphen unlashes a high damage attack with the burning sword that can stop an enemies' action and down them with enough charge (drains own health).
  • Shionne can shoot flying enemies out of the air to ground them and make then vulnerable for a short time.
  • Rinwell can interrupt enemy astral artes and absorb thier power, allowing for an immediate counter attack.
  • Law's devastating punch can "break" enemy armour, lowering defence.
  • Dohalim can tie swift, agile enemies down, making them easier to hit.
  • Kisara's can use her shield to stop dangerous enemy charges that can't other wise be blocked. This knocks the enemy down and leaves an opening for an attack.


The player has to make a choice to use boost attracts or save them for then they can be at thier most useful, but by being too sparing with them one runs the risk of missing a chance to use them when a more opportune time only comes around when the attack would have had enough time to recharge anyway, effectively wasting it. They can't be treated as too precious.


Near death (and at a certain point in health for some larger enemies), the cursor in the middle of the screen will charge up blue by combos against that enemy. When full, you hit any of the Boost Attack controls for any party member you have selected as if it were a boost attack. That party member will team up another member of the party to unleash a boost strike, a devastating finishing move where the developers really get to show off thier animation skills! These are one of my favourite things in the game. They are so satisfying and fun to watch. Even after seeing them dozens of times, they just don't get old.


There is one last thing to talk about in combat within Tales of Arise. For each character it's slightly different, but by satisfying certain combat conditions, the character can enter overdrive mode. In overdrive mode, the character no longer has a souls gauge, but instead a timer that ticks down. During this time, the character has effectively an infinite amount of souls, so the can string as many arts together as they want. At any point during overdrive, but obviously best saved right to the end of it, the character can perform a mystic arte, the most devastating arte any character has that deals massive damage.



It's not all good news though, enemies can enter overdrive mode as well, so watch out.


Healing is a different matter. Only Shionne and Dohalim can use healing arts and they cost cure points (indicated on the middle right of the screen). Each time one of them heals someone, the CP goes down and does not recharge. There are perks that help CP recharge later in the game, but only by very small amounts. The only ways to recharge CP is through specific consumable items or by resting. Trust me, you DO NOT want to be in a situation where you are out in the middle of a combat area when your CP has run out because healing items aren't a common drop and are expensive to buy from merchants. This is particularly annoying when Alphen is in party (and for much of the game, he HAS to be there) because his best attacks cost him health, so he gets healed frequently whether you try to avoid it or not. Cure point are also used to perform certain actions while exploring the world like healing injured NPC's and and opening up new paths. Sometimes this worth it, sometimes it not. It's very frustrating when it's not.


Despite some frustration with how healing works and also how the lock-on system feels next to useless at times, the combat in Tales of Arise works very well. It really does mix demands for strategy and skill very well and is very satisfying. The game is also challenging as JRPGs go and that's good because I have found that to be a problem with some games of this type in the past.


Combat is supported by a simplistic, but none the less varied and easy to use levelling system. You earn both EXP that levels your characters and Skill Points to spend on a skills board for each character.




Each "ring" unlocks either at certain points in the story, by doing specific side missions or meeting certain other conditions within the game. Each new ring grants you one of it's mixture of skills, perks or passive abilities, you then use SP to purchase the others. Each ring you complete grants an additional perk or stat boost.


Now, there is nothing at at all wrong with this system, it's fine, but there's something that really bugs me about it. In most RPGs, higher level enemies are worth more experience, and the same is true here. In most RPG's where the amount of EXP or whatever the equivalent of SP is that is earned in each fight remains the same, but the demands for EXP and SP for the player also go up, meaning takes more amd mre experinace cach time to level up and earn new perks and abilities. You get to a point where it's just not worth fighting enemies at that level anymore, but if the players are willing to sacrifice enough time to grinding, it can be beneficial. However, this is not the case in Tales of Arise.  When you get to be 2-3 levels higher than the enemies your fighting in a certain area, the amount of EXP and SP they give off starts to drop rapidly, making grinding pretty much pointless. This means the only way to level more effectively is to boost EXP and SP earning somehow. You can do that through cooking certain food recipes and.... that's about it. This can only get you so far. This is annoying for three reasons:

  1. If players want to grind, they should be allowed to, it's thier right.
  2. This will make endgame levelling for the very toughest of challenges very difficult.
  3. It's possible that BANDAI NAMCO did this simply to give players the incentive to move to the next part of the story by nerfing grinding, and maybe that's the right thing to do. However, one look at the DLC and it's immediately clear they're doing the right thing for the wrong reason.







That is some supreme bullshit. You can't grind, but you can do that.


Exploration is what it is in the game. You can find chests with new equipment in them, money, crafting materials and so on. It is a nice game to explore with good level design in the various open hub sort of style with mytiple paths and of area's off the min path. So yeah, that works. Like I touched on earlier, characters perform thier own unique "Map Actions" at the cost of CP to open up new paths that are sometimes necessary to get to the next area or to open optional paths to find chests or crafting resources.


Speaking of the crafting, this is minimalistic, but deep enough to matter in Tales of Arise. You take your resources to blacksmiths and other tradesman and merchants to make new weapons and accessories for your party. Likes I said, there isn't that much to say, but it's a fairly easy thing to say on top of, so I like the system. The crafting of accessories is quite fun as you can make items significantly more powerful than what you would ever find. You can even dismantle old gear to further customise new items.


I don't know what it is about Tales games, but food is always a prominent thing in them. This game isn't quite as obsessed with it as Berseria was, but it is there. You cook a variety of recipes to gain temporary augments to your party that include the likes of small EXP boosts, higher item drop rates, boosts to defence and so on. Each character who cooks said dish will add thier own effect to it to boost it the effect or increase the length of time it lasts. A small, but useful feature none the less. You'll be wanting to rest at campsites and inns as frequently as possible to recharge your CP anyway, so you may as well take advantage of this feature. There even comes a point where you can fish or run your own ranch in the game to gather ingredients or stock to sell.


With so much to the game and so much variety, these was always gonna be good and bad tings in the core gameplay, but overall these things are handled pretty well by what you can tell is a team further developing what they had previously from other games trying to make it just a little bit better than last time. I say they succeed, but it is not without flaw. It's a fun, satisfying game saturated with content and things to do where each new mechanic is drip fed over long period and with great tutorials, so you never feel overwhelmed.




I'm not gonna go too deep into this because I don't want to spoil it, but this is what the game is all about. 


Arise takes place in a setting divided between the medieval world of Dahna and the advanced world of Rena. Three centuries ago, the Renans based on Rena's artificial moon Lenegis invaded and conquered Dahna, subsequently enslaving the population and dividing the land into five isolated realms, each ruled by a Lord: The barren and scorching Calaglia, dark and cold Cyslodia, the fertile plains of Elde Menancia, the windy mountains of Mahag Saar and the rainforests of Ganath Haros. Periodically, the "Crown Contest" is held to decide which among the five Lords is chosen to become the next Renan Sovereign, based on the amount of astral energy extracted from Dahna's population and environment stored on the Master Cores in each Lord's possession. Each Lord has his or her own way to harvest astral energy from the enslaved Dahnan population, but ultimately it all revolves around controlling them to manipulate natures elements to draw astral energy from the life of the slaves, the natural world or from Dahna itself.


One Dahnan slave, known as "The Iron Mask", meets, by a chance a mysterious Renan woman named Shionne, who enlists the Iron masks help and works with a local resistance movement against thier oppressors. Her motive may be unclear, but what is knows is that "The Iron Mask" is uniquely gifted to help her. She has been cursed since birth with what she calls her "Thorns", a strange magic that causes pain to anyone she touches, except the Iron Mask who feels no pain at all. This gives Shionne the opportunity to let the Iron Mask use some of het astral abilities to combat the Renan. Thus they are now set on a path to end to rule of the Renen Lords and liberate the Dahnans from three centuries of oppression.


Any more than that and we would be getting into spoiler territory. On the face of this, this story sounds simplistic, especially compared to the very dark and complex morals of Tales of Berzeria, but as it goes on the story does grow into something deeper and more complex. I still wouldn't say its as good as Berseria, but it has great characters and memorable moments throughout. It's also beautifully paced with some superb voice acting from a veteran cast of performers and a epic sound track that even reminded me of Back to the Future at one point. It's not as mature as Berseria, that doesn't mean it's childish. Each time time you go a new place, you go there with excitement as you genuinely have little to no idea what to expect. What we have is by no means the most dynamic story you'll see in a video game, but it's never dull or strung out, which is impressive for such a long game. And you could play it again if you wanted to, especially with new game plus available, you will get your moneys worth out of this.


The story is told through a mixture of cut scenes, skits and dialogue in the open gameplay, which is nice rather than just having is done one way and like I said, it's well paced and relatively easy to digest. Whether you like the story itself or not, and I can understand either view, what can't be denied is the way the story is told. It's clear, the emotions are clear without being over the top and things aren't as "over explained" as I find anime and JRPG's often are. All good stories, no matter how outlandish the worlds they are set in, have undertones to connect them to our reality and this is no different. The theme of freedom and control over over people offers lessons to be learned. I admit it's not as morally complex and Tales of Berseria nor a game meant only for only for older audiences like The Last of Us, but Tales of Arise is more subtle with it's message and that works in it's favour.


For a games bearing the word "Tales" in it's title, it needed to be strong here, and it is, it just could have been a little more "grown up" for possibly.






Edited by Shagger
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I've starting playing some of the endgame stuff and a rather pessimistic prediction I made with regard to the levelling system;




Is, unfortunately, starting to ring true. It's maybe not as bad as I feared, but it is still going to be something of a nightmare. I'm at level 56 and know of challenges facing off against enemies at level 95. It may be the case that one will have play the game with New Game Plus in order to do some of this stuff.

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On 11/16/2021 at 8:47 PM, Head_Hunter said:

@Shagger did absolutely well to analyse critically about this game 'Tales of Arise. Shagger has made me loving this game, at least I have PC to test my hands on the game. 


I just want to point out the game is also available on PlayStation and Xbox if that's what you prefer.

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I've decided to do another update. As some of you may have read in this thread here, and I don't know how or when but this issue came about, but Tales of Arise on Steam has some sort of issue that makes using certain controllers impossible. If you do pick this game up on PC with the intention of using a controller, be wary.

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