Review: Tales of Graces ƒ (PS3)

Call it blasphemous to not finish an epic RPG like Tales of Graces ƒ before giving my final word, but we run tight shifts and I got one-third of the game done, so please don’t send me angry letters.

Tales of Graces ƒ is the enhanced version of the Wii game for the PlayStation from Bandai Namco’s “Tales of” series, with added content and HD graphical tune-ups. You play 11-year-old Asbel Lhant, son of Lord Aston and heir to the lordship of the town of Lhant, who goes out gallivanting with your brother Hubert when they discover a mysterious girl lying amongst the flowers on the meadows of Lhant Hill. Asbel makes it his duty to find out who she is and where she came from.

The earlier parts of the story, including the opening sequence mentioned above, sees Asbel and Hubert, with childhood friend Cheria, visiting royalty Prince Richard and mysterious girl Sophie seeking to find Sophie’s real home. This eventually takes us to the country’s capital where something really bad happens, forcing Asbel to rethink his priorities in life and turn to the Knight Academy and leave the town of Lhant behind until we come seven years later with 18-year-old Asbel to continue the other arc of the story.

The player is left to explore the land of Windor (and Strahta and Fendel) to further the adventure and explore new ground. It is also where more backstory can be enjoyed through little cutscenes called skits, unravelling little quips or and quirks amongst the different characters.

The story alone was really enough to keep me engaged, but story alone doesn’t make a JRPG. The other integral part of the game is the battle system, a staple of all JRPGs. Making contact with a roaming enemy kicks off a fight scene and everything takes place in real-time. The number of allies you have fluctuates as you see through the story, although you only control a main one, which defaults to Asbel, although you can switch to anyone else at any time in battle.

Before you go in flailing your arms at the enemy, there are several things one can stop to consider. Players can choose to attack using the two variants of “Artes”, Assault and Burst. Enemies can be weak to certain Artes or be neutral towards them and the game makes it easy to know their weaknesses. Holding the Circle button draws up information of the currently highlighted enemy which also allows you to switch between which enemy you want are currently targeting.

Defeating enemies earns your team SP, which serve as experience points to add stars to your current title and mastering these titles will provide specific status benefits you can activate when you have them on. Meeting certain requirements when defeating enemies will also earn your team an added percentage of SP or health points restored.

Other aspects of the game include the enhancing of items, food and weapons through the Dualising process, where almost everything can be combined with any other thing and stuffing items into the Eleth Mixer to generate items for use during battle.

Being a remastered version of a Wii game, the graphics are not exactly in full PS3 glory, but everything you see, even at night, is still pretty nice to look at. With no overpowering graphics quality, there are noticeable issues when the battles get intense. The game is fully dubbed in English, so some of the conversations are lost in translation. Still, everyone remains pretty much very likeable and retains their form of charm.

The story dragged me in and refused to let me go. Tales of Graces ƒ is another RPG worth the time of questing adventurers. It’s non-complicated battle system helps players, experienced and new, to ease in to the world of Ephinea.

SCORESHEET (out of 10) – 1/3 Story Progress Completion OVERALL
8.5
Wonderful
Graphics 8.0
These are retuned Wii-style graphics, but the same vibrant landscapes and smooth battle gameplay, coupled with pre-rendered and anime-style cutscenes make this a pleasure on the eyes.
Sound 8.0
Though fully dubbed in English (for you naysaying purists), the fully-voiced characters are still able to keep their charm and remain all likeable (or hatable, for that matter).
Gameplay 9.0
There is some slow buildup to the game proper, but there are early tutorials in the game that will help you to move along, especially for those new to JRPGs.
Lasting Appeal NA
I haven’t completed the game to provide a full look on its lasting appeal, but, yes, there is plenty of story to go through, titles to collect and complete, as well as higher difficulty modes. You can also inherit your past game’s progress if you so wish.
How the RGB Scoresheet works

 

Tales of Graces ƒ is a Japanese role-playing game developed by Namco Tales Studio for Bandai Namco Games exclusively for the PlayStation 3 made available for the Western market. Screenshots from the Japanese version shown. US version has no Japanese language options.

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