Retrospective Review – Tales of the Abyss

Tales of the Abyss – General Information:

  • Developed by Namco Tales Studio, Published by Namco Bandai
  • Released on February 14, 2012
  • Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
* This retrospective review is based on excerpts from my full review of Tales of the Abyss, originally posted on GameFreaks365.com. You can check out the full version of the review there, or continue reading for the summarized “retrospective” version.

Summary ~

“Tales of the Abyss for 3DS is essentially a port of a PlayStation 2 game from 2006 by the same name. Though it doesn’t sound like much for “exclusive content”, the port boasts 3D effects with the new handheld as well as dual-screen support, in addition to new artwork designed by Kousuke Fujishima.”

…on the protagonist and characters:

“Interestingly, Luke [the main character] is not the protagonist you’d expect. His time spent living in the manor has made him selfish, shallow, stubborn, and sheltered to the point of sheer ignorance – he has no idea what life on the other side of the walls is like, and it shows in every single conversation he has with other characters for quite some time. While he isn’t immediately likeable, Luke comes around eventually – and the supporting characters around him are also pretty strong.”

…on the battle system:

“As with all Tales games, battle is done in real-time, with each encounter starting as the player makes contact with an on-screen enemy in the field. The Tales battle system holds up very well on the 3DS, with players using the circle pad to move around the field, attacking with the A button and using special “Artes” with the B button. Combining these buttons with movements on the circle pad results in new attacks and bigger combos, dishing out more damage and so on. The battle system is actually pretty deep, and as you learn new Artes later in the game, each character in the party can be customized and specialized to a great deal.”

…on the classic style:

“…[Tales of the Abyss] feels like it could be right at home in the 32-bit generation, with its focus on classic JRPG elements like leveling, grinding, managing your inventory, collecting items from fallen foes, and even cooking food by finding recipes across the land.”

…on the addictive draw of the classic RPG:

“…Tales of the Abyss for the 3DS nonetheless benefits from its ability to provide players with that inexplicably “addicted” feeling that comes with many traditional JRPGs. Even if you burn an hour grinding experience points in the same area against the same foes, Tales of the Abyss is fun to play for the 30-40 hours that it asks of players.”

…on the 3D effects:

“…the 3D effects and the colorful art style really make the fantasy world of Aludrant come alive more than ever before, with all the lush and detailed environments found in the game.”

…on the fundamentals:

“…fans of traditional JRPGs will find a lot to love while playing Tales of the Abyss. It by no means re-writes the book when it comes to the fundamentals, but it doesn’t have to, because it simply delivers them in a way that is accessible, comprehensible, intuitive, and entertaining – that’s all that really matters. Playing Tales of the Abyss reminded me of the time I spent playing Brave Story – an otherwise unspectacular JRPG for the PSP that was memorable solely for its solid gameplay. Again, it’s that inexplicable feeling of being “hooked” to the grinding and the leveling that this game really pulls off well – and I know that’s what all the JRPG fans out there really want these days, among the sea of Western RPGs flooding the market.”

Scores ~

Design/Concept: (8/10)
Presentation: (8.5/10)
Functionality: (6/10)
Replay Value: (8/10)

Final Score: 8.1 out of 10

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