Tales of Arise is the latest Tales of game from the celebrated JRPG franchise. The game is set on the planet Dahna which is eclipsed by another planet known as Rena. The people of Rena, the Renans, are a technologically advanced civilisation who have enslaved the Dahnans. Fast forward 300 years and matters have only gotten worse for the Dahnans as the Renans use them to fuel their whole society. Enter Alphen, a mysterious man who has no memory of his previous life. He is a Dahnan slave who protects those around him, this is mainly due to him not feeling any pain. A strange phenomenon Alphen makes his way through life trying to make things better for those around him.
His life is changed when he meets a Renan by the name of Shionne. She also has a strange affliction dubbed “the thorns”. Whenever anyone touches her magical thorns strike them and they are inflicted with tremendous pain. Due to Alphen’s ability, I guess you can call it that, this does not affect him and together they form a strange bond to bring down the Renan Lords that are enslaving the Dahnan people. Alphen doing it for all the right reasons, Shionne because of far more selfish ones.
Tales of Arise is a beautiful game. It is such a step up visually from previous entries. The colours are lush and vibrant. The game really pops when the action is going down. The clashing of the elements is outstanding. It feels like with every next iteration in this franchise the team pushes themselves harder and harder.
This is felt in the storytelling as well. The peoples of Rena and Dahna are fascinating. Watching the rise of the Dahnans against the tyrannical Renans is inspiring. It feels like it is drawing from several historical examples and because of that, the emotions of all the characters, whether villainous or heroic feel genuine. The story at times also combines nicely with the visuals at times to showcase the horrors of this story. There is a particular moment when a bunch of Dahnan civilians have strung up a Renan Lord to burn and the resulting climax is devastating. The visuals and the storytelling working in perfect tandem.
If there are any issues sadly it falls down to the combat. Nothing drastically has changed. If you’ve played one Tales of title you have played them all. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, there is a mentality of; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There is also the fact that I found the commands didn’t initiate as quickly as I pressed the buttons. There was a marked delay and it caused problems as I fought the various enemies in the game. Not only that I found the side-quests fairly monotonous and lacking in any real depth. RPGs of all kinds rise and fall on their side-quests in my opinion and this was a serious issue for me.
Burn it all down, to build it back up again
Tales of Arise is a fantastic game. Easily one of the most enjoyable in recent years. Even with the business as usual gameplay the story, the characters and the visuals shine through.