Tales Of Graces f Review (PS3)
Within an hour of turning Tales Of Graces f on we had stolen a slab of pork from a wardrobe and nobody seemed to care. Soon enough we had some kind of pork and rice concoction in our pockets, ready to be devoured should the health of anyone in our 11 to 14-year-old party come to too much harm when attacked by an overly aggressive chicken beast (which was being thwacked with our wooden swords). The next few hours went by in such a haze of semi-comforting boredom that we barely even noticed when a (SPOILER) major character met their end and events were set in motion that lead to a ‘Seven years later…’ caption.
But whatever happened, we were massively grateful you don’t have to play all of Tales Of Graces f as a child. Because that would suck the proverbial. Yes, you get to take on the world of slightly bigger chicken beasts with swords made of more metal with your party of 18 to 24-year-olds. Phew. And it’s quite good fun.
If you’re familiar with the Tales series, there aren’t a huge amount of changes to whet your appetite – that is, if you’re looking for changes. If you’re not, you’ll be fine. If you’re not familiar with one of the mainstays of the JRPG genre, then say hello to the 17-year-old Tales. We’d say ‘the latest’, but it was released in Japan in 2010 and has seen a new game in the franchise released since. Ah, translation.
Anyway, it’s pretty much RPG by numbers – mild exploration, world maps, dungeons, cooking, combining, buying new items, looting pork from houses of innocent civilians, listening to tips on how to play the game from dogs (no, really). Then you get to the battle system, and you’re shown why the Tales series is held in high regard.
It’s real-time, meaning directly-controlled action. While initially you will either feel underwhelmed by the paucity of options on offer, or overwhelmed by the ton of eight-second battles lobbed at you, it will soon enough become second nature. More complexity is thrown in as you progress – and you’ll get used to things, obviously – and it all comes together in a battle system that you actually want to use. Yeah – a JRPG where you can be bothered with the fights. That’s the Tales way.
It isn’t brilliant – it still feels stilted and clumsy, the story isn’t exactly captivating and it drags along at a (dead) snail’s pace. But those looking to fill that colourful, anime-styled JRPG hole in their lives could do a lot worse.
Rote it may be in many regards, but an involving, tactical and – most importantly – welcome battle system makes Tales Of Graces f stand out from the me-too crowd of JRPGs. Imperfect, certainly not for everyone, but good fun.