I have been playing Japanese Role-playing games (JRPG) since Secret of Mana, and have found few that bring satisfaction and not frustration when playing. I recently picked up Persona 3 and I will not dive too much into it, but it did not suit my JRPG addiction. So when I heard Tales of Graces f was being released soon, I made sure to pick it up the same day. I tampered with Tales of Vesperia whenever my ex-boyfriend would be away from his Xbox, but never got the chance to thoroughly play. Watching the trailers, I defiantly thought it was well worth trying out; I am so freaking happy I did!
Gameplay: The story follows the protagonist Asbel Lhant, heir to the Lhant Manor and town, as he is about 6 years old with his younger brother Hubert and his secret admirer Cheria. The children find a strange girl named Sophia whom has no recollection of her past. The next addition to their “posi” is Prince Richard whom Asbel and Sophia perform a “friendship pact” to strengthen their bond. To reduce the amount of spoilers, a stir of events occur where the children’s friendship is tested as well as a depressing circumstance, which results in every one of the children being separated.
Seven years later, the story continues with Asbel in his teens, the children, now teenagers, are reunited but their friendship is faulty and broken. Prince Richard’s throne is in jeopardy, but this results in the world in jeopardy by an alien entity named Lamba threatening to destroy the world via an unsuspected twist. Two additional characters are added to the group, and most of the time I was impressed with how the story could actually keep me in suspense to what will happen next. Many times, the most unusual crisis would occur, where I would find myself eager to defend. The story revolves heavily on the idea of friendship, so much so that it made me sick to my stomach. However, the story kept me interested enough to actually not give a damn about it; eat my blade of friendship!
The free-battle system within the game was what I admired most. I fought almost every monster in the areas I traveled to just because the fighting system was amazing. However, I needed skills and tactics to get through this game. Simply hacking and slashing the enemy was not going to ensure my victory. Quick guarding, dodging, skills setting, equipment, and titles were crucial to beating some of the bosses. Sometimes I would honestly recommend taking breaks since at times the challenge was driving me insane. Another great aspect of the game is if your tired of being one character you can easily switch to another with different abilities and skills.
Upgrading weapons is done via dualizing where you take a weapons fuse it with a shard and then equip it to temper it until it is matured and then dualize it with other weapons to form crystals that can be used to increase stats. You can also dualize or “cook” food to create different dishes that range from reviving characters to increasing stats. Dualizing items create inventions that you can submit to accomplish quests, complete special events, or unlock costumes and ultimate weapons. You can also purchase more costumes on PSN. There are also “prank weapons” each character can get and even though these weapons are kind of hard to get, they are worth the challenge.
Controls: The control takes some time to get use to, but once you have figured it out, the game has a way to test and improve your skills and mold you into a better player. Using the analog stick and either X or Δ. You can execute basic to powerful attacks with finishing blows to defeat enemies
Graphics: The graphics are breathtaking with a mix of anime style cinematography, facial expressing avatars, and stunning animation. The environment and landscape of the world within the game is vibrant with colors and details. It makes the game just as good to watch, as it is to play.
Overall: (5/5) The game may seem childish because it focuses a great deal on friendship, but it also deals with plenty of mature topics like real poverty, death, illness, revenge, misuse of authority, corruption, and loyalty to code of honor. There are times you are asked to fight your teammates as they request to see your resolve which can be frustrating if you beefed up your fellow teammates, yet the encompassing ideal of the game is loyalty and the strength to fight for just causes. I love every aspect of this game and would recommend it to not only fans of JRPG, but also anyone looking for a good JRPG to test out.