Tales of Graces F
Tales of Graces F was released in Japan in 2009 for the Wii and then switched to the PS3 platform and sold in the US in 2010 by Namco. It’s a member of the Tales series which has existed since the original Nintendo and is known for a quality story and excellent game play. This is my first video game review, so let me know what you think in the comments below.
The plot follows the son of the Lord of Lhant named Asbel and his adventures from childhood to adulthood. During his childhood he meets a mysterious girl who remembers nothing of her life, her name, or what feelings are. After an incredibly scarring event that ended in the death of the girl. The girl then appears seven years later in Asbel’s greatest time of need, and so the adventure to discover her identity begins again. Finding themselves against the world, Asbel grows up hard and fast with the help of the enigmatic “Sophie”, as he calls her, to discover the truth of what is happening to the world due to war, anger, and great evil pulling the strings of humanity.
Story – 8
The twists, the turns, the depth of characters. This game has all the JRPG fixings when it comes to the story. The characters are relatable and understandable in their reactions to most situations. There are even small “skits” that add comedy and more depth to the characters as the game progresses.
That said, though I love the game, it is a fair bit predictable. So far I have nailed every archetype and identified where the plot twist are going to be. I haven’t finished the game yet, but this is where it stands for me. The “skits” are done cheaply without using the avatars and scenery. It’s essentially watching a manga scene as read by the characters in it. At least the entire game isn’t like that or I would have a serious problem.
Gameplay/Battle System – 8
There is a very thorough explanation of all game mechanics. The live action, almost button mashing, battle system is very well setup and easy to use. It has a small learning curve with the artes, but is pretty good to play. The dualize, or synthesis system, is highly simplistic in its design. It has cooking, synthesis, graphing gems to weapons, etc. The engagement for battle is to run into enemies. You can certainly run around them if needed, but who does that?
Again, there are tutorials for everything in the game, but then again there are tutorials for EVERYTHING in the game. Some things don’t necessarily need to be learned, and they could combine a few of these together. I get bored when I have to stop playing the actual game in order to “learn” how to press a button. Once you finally get past all the tutorials though, you have a really solid game with good mechanics. Then comes the title system. A very arbitrary way of dividing power ups, powers, and other bonus stats into the game. You pick a title, then earn Skill Points to level up the title to get the power ups. This would not be as bad if there were a logical reason for earning every title, which there aren’t.
Pace – 9
The pace of the story is about average. Not too fast, not too slow, but just right. Unless you are a completionist (i.e. – me), then it becomes the best $70 you could spend because it will take you forever to get everything.
It is still bogged down by tutorials. Hate to knock it twice, but I should know how to play a game completely before the 15 hour mark.
Aesthetics – 9
The setting has all you expect from a JRPG; Bright colors, odd costumes, unique characteristics of large cities such as an overtly large crystal structure, etc. The characters also have very well-coordinated hair and clothing and sometimes highly ornate outfits. Asbel tends to look like Elvis with a sword. I don’t mind, but it was mentioned to me while I was playing the game.
The CG events are done in what I would call an “anime” style, which I actually feel takes you backwards rather than forward in technology. They are beautifully done, but it does take me away a little.
Additional Things – 8
The Dualize system is nice for synthesis because all you need is two things to make another. It’s a simple concept and I don’t have much of a problem with it. You can even use an “eleth mixer” to hopefully produce needed synthesis, food, and healing items in the game as you walk around.
The title system in which you acquire powers is tedious and illogical when trying to figure out how to achieve more titles. Some titles come based on your place in the story, some come from talking to EVERY person you meet, some come from using a particular ability, number of skills, number of battles, what color your left pinky toe is on Sunday, you get the point. Not always the hardest to understand, but at times they don’t make it easy.
The “skits” are probably the thing that bother me second most. Nothing takes you out of a game like these scenes. I feel like it’s acting with pictures on lollipop sticks. It’s just cheap dialogue with no production value.
Last, and most annoyingly, is collecting things that mean nothing. Collecting things for gaining an item, or title, or to complete a side quest is understandable in any JRPG, but collecting things to put into a stupid book with no reward bugs me to know end. I want a purpose and/or at least a reward for going two towns out of my way to get something.
Total – 42/50
Although I am super critical of Tales of Graces F, I love the game and am still playing it now. It’s just a matter of what contributes to a game, and what detracts. You always want that perfect gaming experience when playing any game. Despite everything I have stated, this game is still a keeper and if you can find it, get it. You will not be disappointed.
This review also appear with my other reviews, and explanation of the grading system at Ultraotaku.com.