The 17th entry in the mainline Tales series, Tales of Arise, is finally here after years of anticipation and personally as a huge fan of the series I was more than just simply excited for the release. So without delay, check out the full review below.
Tales of Arise is a very special entry in the Tales of Arise series as it does a lot of things differently to previous games in the series as well as sets a new precedent for upcoming games in the series. The game is built on Unreal Engine 4, leaving behind the series’ proprietary and aged Tales engine used in previous games. The new engine allows the developers the ability to have better graphical detail and visual quality with the Arise team targeting the level of 3D films and television media. The game was also built with the new current-gen consoles in mind, so players will notice a huge jump in fidelity compared to the previous game in the series – Tales of Berseria. As a huge fan of the series, Tales was starting to get very stagnant since Tales of Xillia so I’m personally really happy with Bandai Namco took 5 years to work on Tales of Arise so old and new fans get a new and modern take on the Tales formula.
Tales of Arise’ story is a lot darker compared to previous entries in the series as the game starts off with introducing the players to the political environment of the twin planets Dahna and Rena. 300 hundreds ago the planet of Rena showed up in the skies of Dahna with the technologically superior Renans coming down and enslaving the Dahnans. The lands of Dahna have since been divided and ruled by super powerful Renan Lords who compete for power against each other by extracting the life energy of Dahnans under their rule.
As the game starts you’re introduced to our amnesiac protagonist Iron Mask, a slave in Calagia who has no memory of himself or how he got there. He is pretty special though as he cannot feel pain and has an unremovable Iron Mask on his face, no one know why that is but on a normal day of slave work Iron Mask comes across a Renan called Shionne on the run from the Renan Knights, he saves her and upon discovering his power Shionne realizes that he might be able to help her on her mission. I won’t spoil the story any further as honestly the plot twists and story reveals are done really well compared to previous entries. The pacing especially is note worthy as the game doesn’t needlessly drag on and keeps you glued to the story by dripping in story threads at frequent intervals. Overall I felt that the developers handled the mature and political themes fairly well. Iron Mask’s frustration against his oppressors especially stood out with the range of emotion at play make you realize that this is not a normal Tales game.
The gameplay is always a highlight of the Tales series and oh my word does Tales of Arise deliver. I’ll start with saying that Tales of Arise has the most fun battle system in a Tales game yet. Its fast, smooth, flashy and so much fun. Although I’m a huge JRPG nut, I’ve never sought out battles in games I play however grinding and fighting new monsters is just amazing. As you learn new Arts and come across new enemies the battle system evolves and honestly the difference between when you start the game and the battles you go through during the end-game is a night and day difference. I also liked the new CP (Cure Points) system which makes things a bit more challenging as your health can only be recovered using CP and they’re hard to come by unless you buy a lot of gels. This balances a certain mechanic where the player can exchange their health for huge damage, so battles don’t become too easy. In Tales of Arise there is no boring grind, every battle is fun and trust me once you start chaining battles for the tier bonuses, you won’t even know how time will pass you by.
Tales of Arise is the best game in the series so far and I’m so happy with how the developers managed to modernize one my favorite series. With Tales of Arise I feel the series can finally go into the mainstream and get the respect it deserves. It does almost everything right; the story is handled well, the gameplay is amazing, the pacing is on point, the music will tingle your heart strings and the game systems will keep you coming back for more.
Tales of Arise Review (PS5)
Final Score - 9/10