Great classic RPGs are few and far between due to other subgenres being more popular. Now that doesn’t mean that the genre is dead; Octopath Traveller and Bravely Default 2 saw to that. But on the endless sea of remakes, sequels, and uninspiring repetitive gameplay, we tend to wonder if it is dead. Luckily, there are games that defy the odds. Enter Cris Tales, a new game coming out this year.
What Is Cris Tales?
Cris Tales is an upcoming action JRPG title. The game will be published by Modus Games and is created by Dreams Uncorporated and Syck. Set for a July 2021 release, Cris Tales will be playable on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and the Nintendo Switch.
Where Can You Get It?
Screenshot from Steam
For PC gamers, Cris Tales already has a Demo on Steam that you can play. The Demo showcases the game’s tutorial, and the first few minutes of gameplay, as well as the Colosseum.
Of course, if you’re not keen on using Steam, you can also go to GOG to download Cris Tales. The game is available already there on pre-order.
For other consoles, the game will also have its release on the PlayStation Store and Nintendo Game Store.
What Is JRPG?
As mentioned, Cris Tales is classified as JRPG, which stands for Japanese role-playing game. JRPGs are games that contain some pretty distinct features from a typical Western RPG. JRPGs are usually created by Japanese developers; however, the label is not an exclusive one. The term comes from console RPGs that defined games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. The JRPG classification is considered as a diverse array of different RPGs as a subgenre.
When RPGs started to get some popularity, the various hardware limitations of the start of the era restricted the games to 8-bit graphics. Eventually though, as PCs and console hardware start to get more advanced, the graphics that RPGs have to begin to change as well. One thing that’s noticeable when comparing Western and JRPGs is the art style/ graphics that both have. JRPGs usually have a more Japanese anime look.
Meanwhile, Western RPGs tend to go for a more realistic look. This kind of style is especially noticeable in games like Persona, Dragon Quest, or especially Final Fantasy. Do note though, that Final Fantasy’s graphics changed over time and started to approach a more realistic look.
In general, JRPGs are more story-driven compared with Western ones. Because of this, many JRPGs tend to have deep linear or non-linear storylines. They tend to not have an open world like Western RPGs such as Skyrim.
Also, like any RPG, they tend to be text-heavy with a lot of characters talking with each other, which makes the game pace feel slow sometimes. This is particularly notable in Bravely Default, Octopath Traveller, or the Persona Series. Usually, characters on JRPGs pre-made and their customization isn’t as vast or prolific when compared with Western RPGs. After all, JRPGs are telling a story, and thus, have characters that help in telling a story.
Because JRPGs have a wide array of sub-RPG genres, they can have a lot of different game mechanics. Most of them, of course, have a basic stat system. Characters level up by getting EXP and also improve their HP and MP at the same time. Depending on the game’s genre, the combat system that they have tends to have many differences. In action RPGs, battles tend to happen in real time. Meanwhile, in turn-based RPGs, a player has a menu to choose what attacks or skills to use.
Most, if not all games that are in the RPG genre, need the player to plan out their attacks, exposing enemies’ weaknesses. Some JRPGs have random encounters that happen when the player’s avatar is walking along with the game’s main overworld. Now, these encounters are different based on the game in question.
However, some games allow players to avoid them, like on Pokemon, or completely removed like Bravely Default. Because random encounters and character stats are among the main elements of JRPGs, they, of course, have an emphasis on grinding out said stats to improve character performance.
Cris Tales Preview
Gameplay and Controls
As you can see, Cris Tales is a turn-based action JRPG that has some pretty unique gameplay mechanics. Main character Crisbell’s ability to time-jump, both on the game map and when in battle, affects the game’s overall gameplay. This isn’t just limited to Crisbell, though; all of the game’s playable characters have their roles, as well as unique abilities.
Of course, the one that will draw the most attention would be the game allowing players to manipulate time. When Crisbell gains her powers, the screen is divided into three sections, with each section showing different aspects of time.
In the game’s story, Crisbell has to complete a series of tasks and quests, but not alone. She has some help thanks to Matias. She uses the powers of the two Crystals of Time to do time jumps and make actions in either the past or present to change the future.
Crisbell can send enemies to either the past or the future. This ability depends on where they are on the screen, if they’re on the left side, they’re sent in the past. When they’re on the right side, they’re sent to the future. Doing this alters their characteristics, allowing savvy players to take advantage. This can range from making enemies older or making them younger to even instantly activating turn-based skills.
The battles in the game are done by using commands similar to your typical JRPG like attacking, using skills and spells, and using items. There’s also the addition of doing precise button inputs when attacking or defending, dealing more damage, or less damage in turn.
For now, Cris Tales reveals three characters that the players can use on the game’s Demo. Two of them on the Campaign, with one more joining in on the Demo’s Coliseum. Technically, there are four characters, with the addition of Matias, but Matias is more of a prop for one of the characters than a real character. Still, we’ll add him in.
Crisbell is the focal point of the game. She’s a young time mage that can see the past and future.
Crisbell utilizes the power of the time crystals. This allows her to see the full extent of her powers. However, her inexperience won’t make her overpowered from the get-go. Instead, Crisbell will gain more abilities as you play through the game.
Meanwhile, Matias is a talking frog, no, I’m not joking.
As of right now, nothing much is known about Matias’ backstory. The only thing we know as concrete is the fact that he watched over Crisbell before the events of Cris Tales. That, and the fact that he and Willhelm don’t get along well. He formally introduces himself to Crisbell after she awakens the Crystals of Time, giving her advice on how to control her powers.
In addition to all that, he’s also the method in which Crisbell manages to interact with the past and future. With her abilities, she can send Matias to either Past or Future, affecting the outcomes of the various events and individuals in the game.
An example of this would be revealed early on in the game as its tutorial. We won’t spoil, but the game does offer Crisbell and the player a choice on what to do, with each choice affecting the game’s future. We hope this means we have multiple endings, but for now, that’s all we have.
Oh, and he also changes in appearance depending on if you send him to the Past or Future too. When he’s sent to the Past, he turns into a small tadpole. Meanwhile, sending Matias to the Future turns him into an old, bloated frog, which is an added style to the game’s temporal-based abilities.
Then, we have Cristopher, a character that you’ll be able to meet early on.
Cristopher as a character focuses on dishing out damage to enemies. He is someone who you will love having to give you that extra edge while in battle.
Next up would be Willhelm, or more accurately, Willhelm the Wise, who is yet another Time Mage, but this time, he can’t affect the Past or Future. We don’t know what his abilities as a Time Mage are, but we do know that it affected his age and appearance. Because of his powers, he looks like a kid in his early to late teens. We don’t know much about him being a Time Mage; well, other than the fact that it stops his aging, or prevents Crisbell from seeing a Past or Future version of him. He instead appears like a ghostly image of Crisbell’s abilities.
In addition to being a Time Mage, he also has some plant-related abilities. For now, we can use him in the Demo’s Coliseum game mode, where he summons Yucandragoras to poison enemies and heal allies.
Other than these first four characters, we do know of two more characters that players can use in the game. They weren’t shown on the Demo; however, they were shown on the game’s trailers. Here are the two characters in question:
Let’s start with Zas, who is another playable character that you’ll meet later on in the game. She’s a girl in her early to late teens that has a slender athletic build. She also looks to be taller compared to Crisbell, has twin ponytails of green that reach her waist, and eyes of dark brown.
She wears a coat over a bodysuit of dark blue that has a missing pant leg. On the exposed leg, you can see many green bandages. The coat looks like a grayish-green hoodie that has green drawstrings and white sleeves. She also has a dark blue hat that has some parts that look like cat ears. She wears sneakers and last but not least, carries a large green bag.
As of right now though, we don’t know much about Zas, or what she brings to the table. What we do know about her is the real possibility of her bringing high explosive yield when she was shown on the Gamescon 2020 trailer of the game.
Last but not least is JKR-721, or more commonly known as K. He’s a mechanical android of average height but doesn’t show it. On the outside, he looks like a fair human with gray and gold eyes. These human eyes, however, gain a gold glow when he’s fully charged.
He seems to be a physical fighter, fighting on melee with emphasis on speed. He has a jetpack that he hides under his coat, reinforcing this, as well as what seems to be the ability to use electric attacks.
The game’s main story, which is the Empress’ plot to destroy the world, is a complex and layered thing. You need to use your wits, recruit new and powerful allies all over the world, as well as decide what happens in the future, to uncover and thwart her plans as well as get the game’s True Ending.
World and Graphics
As stated, the game looks incredibly good. The world looks like a painted masterpiece, with incredibly colored areas. It also helped that the game is shown separately with the Past, Present, and Future on full display. In the middle of the screen, you see the Present, people that Crisbell knows and can interact with at this time.
Meanwhile, on the left side of the screen, you can see the Past, grown-ups still young kids, elderly at their prime, areas, and buildings still being made. And lastly, on the right side of the screen, you see the Future, young boys and girls now full grown. However, the overall state of the world is worse when compared to the past and present. The streets are grungy and dilapidated.
However, once you take actions that change it, the future immediately changes, one of the houses looks better, for example. Or the people around you seemed happier. All in all, your choices influence the future in this game, so choose wisely.
For now, we don’t have an idea of the game’s replayability. We don’t know if the game will have a hard mode or extra collectibles that can only be found on harder difficulties. The game’s emphasis on decisions changing the future implies branching paths in the game’s story though, so that might be a draw for players to play again. Other than that, it’s also possible that we might see the Colosseum in full glory once the game is out, allowing us to play it in full.
Should You Be Excited for Cris Tales?
If you’re a big fan of JRPGs and want to experience it again with some unique mechanics, then you might want to try out Cris Tales. The great graphics, the time-based gameplay, and the fact that your choices matter will attract players who want some nostalgic JRPG goodness in their hearts.