I have to admit that Tales of Graces f snuck up on me. The worst JRPGs tend to be incredibly long and tedious affairs populated with overwrought characters and irritating mazes around every corner. Now that I have completed 20 hours of my two hour investigation I can confirm that this chapter in the Tales series drew me in with its fleshed out, well voiced characters and its neat battle system.
The familiar Tales ingredients were all there including a varied group of characters, a huge game world, an interesting plot that grew as the game progressed, a deep battle system and more in-game collectables than I could begin to recount here.
Tales had me joining the hero, Asbel, his younger brother Hubert and a likeable cast of his friends on this adventure. One of the elements that really hooked me was the inclusion of skits. These were little interactions between the characters that helped develop their relationships, added layers to plot or just humour to the game. One of my favourite occurred between Malik (Asbel’s instructor) and Sophie (a mysterious girl who had lost her memory). After winning a battle, Malik claimed to have knocked his opponents “right into next week”. Suddenly Sophie appeared at his side and deadpanned “I’ve travelled back in time from next week. Please stop throwing monsters at us.”
The hand-drawn art style made the whole game look beautiful and bright and the characters were animated quite well, particularly during skits and cut scenes. Mazes did make an appearance in this game (I think it’s required by JRPG law, or something), but for a change I didn’t find them too tedious or very difficult.
So far, I have no real gripes with this game. I also had a great time with Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube so this makes my Tales experience two for two in the ‘win’ column. If you enjoy JRPGs or even if you don’t, Tales of Graces f is quite likely to win you over with its charm.