The Tales series have been some of the best JRPGs that came out from Japan. With their innovative battle system and compelling stories, fans regularly come back for more. And now Bandai Namco came out and revealed Tales of Arise, the latest title in the beloved series. Let’s talk about what’s already revealed about the game, shall we?
What Is Tales of Arise?
Tales of Arise is the upcoming 17th entry from the Tales series. The game is an action-adventure RPG created and released by Bandai Namco for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. The game is set to release this September 2021.
What Is the Tales Series?
The Tales/Tales Of series is a series of fantasy RPGs that are created and published by Bandai Namco back in 1995. The series started with Tales of Phantasia from the Super Famicom and eventually made its way to other consoles. Eventually, the series would make its way to Playstation and PC, where they become more known to the Western audience.
After a four-year hiatus, Bandai Namco decided to shower us with Tales of Arise, which is what we’re gonna talk about today.
Tales of Arise Preview
As stated, Tales of Arise is an action-adventure RPG that appears to retain most of the original Tales battle system. We’ll talk about this in another section of the article, but the developers have stated their wishes to depart from the usual Tales formula. Yusuke Tomizawa, the game’s producer, stated that the game’s name is something that they hope would exemplify the creative team’s wishes in terms of story, and themes.
The game still has a semi-open world look that’s spaced between areas and dungeons. Players need to explore to see everything the game has to offer. An example of this would be the Expedition system of Tales of Berseria. In that game, the player sends their ship on expeditions that can return valuable ingredients, weapon crafting materials, and even treasures that can buff the party. There’s a chance that this will make a return on Tales of Arise. However, there’s not much that we know about the overall gameplay of the game yet.
Other than this, there are the skits that’s been in Tales titles for a long time now. The skits are mini-cutscenes where characters comment on something, someone, or a place. These skits are generally serious, though most of them can be very hilarious. A lot of the games in the Tales series have missable skits if players aren’t paying attention. All of these skits have some shred of information that players can use or have moments of levity that can lift spirits after a daunting battle. Either way, we hope that the skits make a return.
Combat and Controls
In terms of combat and controls, Tales of Arise still follows the Linear Motion Battle System or the LMBS for short. This system has been a mainstay of the Tales series ever since Tales of Phantasia. This battle system has been considered to be the most recognizable aspect that the Tales series has in comparison to other games. Eventually, subsequent Tales games would then proceed to add in their variations to the system.
The LMBS is a system where the characters can move all over the battlefield and fight. The Linear aspect of this is where all of the characters are always tied to a movement that ensures they either go towards or away from an enemy. There are some variations of this, but this is mostly how it goes.
Each of the games in the Tales series has its version of the LMBS, and it is expected that Arise is no exception to the rule. For now, the gameplay shows the usual LMBS essentials. According to Yusuke Tomizawa, the game’s LMBS isn’t going to change that much as they want older players to get into the game running. They will, however, add in a few changes to spice things up.
The role of creating the game’s sound design and sountrack once again goes to Motoi Sakuraba. We can already expect some pretty bopping beats in the game’s overworld and battle with him at the helm. While we don’t know who will create the game’s theme song, we hope that Flow will make a comeback. Flow has been a cool addition to the Tales series, and their songs, Kaze no Uta and Burn, were used as opening themes for Tales of Zestiria X and Tales of Berseria.
The game’s art director as well as character designer is filled by Minoru Iwamoto. Iwamoto has worked on both Zestiria and Berseria, but this is the game where Bandai Namco deliberately has the same person fill both of these roles. It will be interesting to see how Iwamoto will present this game.
The game’s created using Unreal Engine 4, which is a departure compared to the game’s usual style. The company stated that this is a deliberate move to fuse the game’s art style and themes so they can show how far the series has become while appealing to Western audiences. Time will tell if this is something that’ll help the game in the future.
It’s important to note that the game added focus on 3D graphics. However, the developers stated that they won’t neglect to add 2D animated cutscenes in the game as well. Of course, Ufotable, being one of the best animation studios in Japan, is going to do the game’s anime sequences. Those that saw their work on the Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel Trilogy should be very excited with this news.
In terms of level design, there seems to be no indication that Tales of Arise will become an open-world RPG. Of course, this is designed by the developers as they want to tell a story. Each of the game’s maps has its nooks and crannies for players to explore. Towns have the same vibrant life to them with all the NPCs that players can interact with. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be new information regarding the game’s level design, so players will have to find out for themselves when the game eventually releases.
The story of Tales of Arise hasn’t been shown prominently yet from marketing. What we do know is that there are two planets, Dahna and Rena. The Dahnans have revered the planet Rena for over 300 years, believing them to be godlike beings. However, what they don’t know is that the Renans have conquered Dahna a long time ago. And now, they’ve been using the planet below them to fuel their economy, and take their resources.
For 300 years this continued, and the culture and dignity of Dahna faded to near obscurity. However, there’s hope. A Dahnan by the name of Alphen, who lost all memories of himself, and Shionne, who brings pain to those that touch her, join forces. Their mission? To free Dahna from centuries of Renan oppression. Along the way, they find new allies, learn new skills, and hopefully, lead Dahna into the future. Will they be able to do this, only time, and us playing the game, will tell.
Should You Be Hyped for Tales of Arise?
If you’re a fan of the Tales Series, then yes, Tales of Arise is a game to be hyped for. The fact that the game is now on Unreal Engine alone should be enough to show fans that the developers are taking the game seriously. Tales of Arise deals with some heavy themes, but mostly to pad out the game’s plot. That, and the Tales battle system should be a great way to bring in longtime fans and newcomers to the franchise.
How Do Tales of Arise Compare to Similar Games?
Now that we’ve talked about Tales of Arise, let’s talk about how this game compares to other JRPGs. We’ll start from the Hyperdimension Neptunia Series, then Fairy Fencer F, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, and lastly, Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Series
In terms of story, Hyperdimension Neptunia couldn’t be farther from Tales of Arise. For one, The Neptunia series of JRPGs is incredibly goofy and is overall a bundle of laughs. They don’ take things too seriously, there’s a lot of gags floating around, and each of the nations in the game is reminiscent of various game consoles. For example, Planeptune is, of course, Sega Saturn, Leanbox is Xbox, Lastation is Playstation, and Lowee is, surprisingly, Nintendo. How that happened, we have no idea, but given that the whole series is a hilarious take on the console wars, well, you can get the picture.
Gameplay-wise, the series has a similar battle system to the Tales series, however, there are a few differences. For one, the whole battle is turn-based, and not happening all at once. Players can also aim their abilities to hit multiple enemies and targets. An example of this would be if a character does the ability to shoot flame pillars. The flame pillars will have a marker on the battlefield that players can then aim by moving around their character. When the player’s satisfied on how many enemies can be hit, they let the spell rip and burn the enemies to crispy perfection. You can also do something similar with the various physical skills available in the game.
The games also added some alternate dimensions and timelines to the mix which can confuse players. However, if they can stick with Neptunia’s Wild Ride, they’ll be in for a treat.
Fairy Fencer F
Next up is Fairy Fencer F, which is surprisingly dark if you look at the game from several perspectives. Fairy Fencer F has a lot going for it and was made by the same developers as Neptunia. This is reflected by having the same gameplay and combat system. Even the transformations are uncanny. However, the difference between this game and Neptunia is the story, which takes a dark turn pretty quickly.
The gameplay loop is still the same though, but dungeons are a bit on the easier side on Fairy Fencer F. Players can immediately find out enemy weaknesses if they look hard enough, and there are enough skills to go around that players won’t get bored. Combos are also a thing, with many being incredibly devastating when done right. When done well, an executed combo can turn entire enemy groups into nothing more than chumps. Of course, this is something that you can potentially do on Tales of Arise as well, but better due to the LMBS.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Series
Next up is the Trails of Cold Steel games, a JRPG series that has a similar feel the Tales series. On Trails of Cold Steel III, the main characters are constantly pulled between two government powers with some assassination and terrorism at the side. Tales of Arise meanwhile is straight up a rebellion against a corrupt government for the freedom of the people. Of course, those are just generalizations of the two stories but you get the idea.
In terms of combat, Trails of Cold Steel III has the Tactical Link System that actively tracks the bonds between characters. Characters that have better scores in this system can unlock better support abilities with each other. Meanwhile, Tales of Arise has a more individualistic Linear Motion Battle System. Both systems have their perks. The LMBS is great for individual play, chaining combos left, right, and center to achieve victory. Meanwhile, Trails of Cold Steel lends itself to more tactical play, allowing players to pick and choose which characters would bond in the heat of battle. There’s a hint of dating sim in there as well with the game’s Bonding Events.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Last but not the least is the big one. Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the game a lot of people have waited for quite some time now. This game is straight-up awesome in terms of its gameplay. The combat system is similar to the LMBS, but they incorporated some hack-and-slash elements to it. Skills can now be used in the heat of battle due to the game slowing down, allowing players to choose what ability to use for the best effect. Of course, enterprising and quick players can bind hotkeys to specific skills that allow them to keep the flow of battle pumping.
In addition to this, the game’s graphics were just a joy to see. The city of Midgard was remade in full, putting more detail to the sprawling streets and dilapidated areas. The enemies looked the best they could be since the series came out, and the cutscenes are just awesome.
Meanwhile, Tales of Arise is a game that has a more anime aesthetic to it even in 3D. but don’t let that dissuade you from playing it, the game seems to be a great one upon release, and players are already itching for it.