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Game review: Tales of Arise (PS4 and PS5)

By Damian Seeto
Fri 10 Sep 2021

Bandai Namco has been releasing many ‘Tales’ games over the years, but Tales of Arise is the first entry in the series to makes its debut on the relatively new PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. Past generation owners don’t have to worry either because the PS4 and Xbox One are getting the game along with PC players. 

I was lucky enough to review both the PS4 and PS5 versions of Tales of Arise. Aside from some technical differences, this new Bandai Namco developed and published JRPG is enjoyable no matter what console you play the game on. 

Even though I played Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5 earlier this year, I’m happy to report the 2D anime style of Tales of Arise is just as pretty too. It’s one of the brightest and most colourful looking games I’ve played all year. The levels are clean and crisp, plus the game runs pretty smoothly most of the time. 

If you are playing on PS5, the frame rate is smoother on the newer console plus the loading times are faster. The game also runs pretty well on PS4, although the loading times are slightly slower. There is some pop-in on PS4 too, although both versions are still playable overall. 

If you have never played a Tales game before, you don’t have to worry about catching up with the lore and story. The Tales series is similar to Final Fantasy, where each entry offers a standalone experience with a new story and fresh characters for you to get to know. 

In Tales of Arise, the story is quite interesting because it’s a plot about liberating slaves from the five Renan lords. The main character is named Alphen, and he’s a slave known as a Dahnan. He is later joined by a Renan woman named Shionne. Even though she is a Renan, she has her own agenda on why she wants to rid the world of the five lords. 

                                   

The pair is joined by four other characters who also want to liberate the Dahnans from the evil Renans. Each character that joins your party has their own reasons for helping Alphen and Shinonne, and it’s interesting to see how all of them try to get along. 

I found the six main characters likeable as all of them have deep backstories. Not to mention I liked the overall storyline of liberating slaves from their oppressors. It is a huge quest because the five lords aren’t easy to find, and they usually have a ton of soldiers protecting them!

In terms of gameplay, Tales of Arise includes all of the ingredients that I love about modern action style JRPGs. This game is far different from the old-school features that frustrated me when I reviewed Cris Tales not too long ago. 

One of the reasons I disliked Cris Tales so much was because it was an RPG that featured outdated and unwanted gaming mechanics. I did not like the unfair turn-based combat system, and the frequent random battles during dungeons annoyed the heck out of me. 

Thankfully Tales of Arise is more in line with recently released JRPGs like Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake. The game uses an active combat system, meaning you don’t have to wait for your turn to attack. There is also a helpful dodge button so you can actually avoid attacks instead of just getting hit all of the time. 

I found the combat system to be accessible but also deep enough to satisfy hardcore RPG fans too. One of the cooler things about the combat is that you can juggle enemies in the air for a very long time. You and your three party members can team up and dish out fancy combos that you may usually see in fighting games.

The game is also generous because you can play as any party member throughout the entire video game. You can also swap playable characters anytime you want, so you don’t have to play as Alphen all of the time. The team is balanced too because there are three male characters and three female characters for you to choose from. 

The controls are pretty easy to master, plus the AI partners are very helpful too. I mainly played as Alphen using R1 to attack and the three face buttons to initiate special techniques. While I concentrated on melee attacks most of the time, Shionne and the other party members healed me and focused more on magic. 

                                  

Another great thing about the combat is that you can do some awesome double team moves when you can earn them. These special moves basically allow you to deal lots of damage to both normal enemies and during boss fights. Different combinations of characters have their own moves, so it never feels repetitive when you execute them. 

As for the level design, the game is really helpful because the maps are easy to read, and you’re always guided to your next destination. The game is also not overwhelmingly too large, so you don’t have to worry about walking long distances like an Assassin’s Creed game. The game has fast travel if you want to collect secret items for food or go back to do any side quests that you may have missed. 

There aren’t many flaws that I can say while I was playing Tales of Arise. The only thing I can think of is that some of the dialogue scenes drag on too long, although some of these scenes are optional, so you’re not forced to watch all of them. If you have both a PS5 and PS4, it’s better to go for the PS5 version if you want prettier visuals and shorter load times. 

Anyway, Tales of Arise is one of the best JRPGs I’ve ever played, and it is easily one of the most enjoyable games of 2021. If you like modern action-style RPGs, do yourself a favour and buy this game as soon as you can. 

Verdict: 9.5/10

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