Tales of Arise is the latest in the long-running series that has always had the makings of superstardom and yet always manages to just miss the mark. Thankfully, Tales of Arise looks to have shed the old-school trappings of previous games and is actually as good as it gets for a modern action RPG. Alphen and company are going to demand a good 50-60 hours of your attention over the next couple of months, so there are some things to know before starting your journey.
5. Save Points are Gone
Yes, despite over 20 years of being trapped in the ancient system of Save Points, the Tales series has finally shed its old ways with Tales of Arise. Instead of desperately seeking out the next Save Point as your health dwindles shortly after a tough battle where you just acquired a shiny new item, Tales of Arise respects your time and lets you save just about anywhere in the game. This is a huge improvement and allows you to play the game at your pace and not the predetermined pace that the developers want. This means if you want to jump in for 20 minutes, fight a few enemies and then hop out, you’re completely free to do so. Purists may argue that this makes things too easy, but trust me, turn that difficulty up to hard and tell me this game is too easy.
4. Combos are Back
The previous installment, Tales of Berseria, focused on you building up a meter in order to unleash your most devastating Arte attacks. The problem there was that if you ran dry on that meter, you could barely do any attacks at all. Tales of Arise remedies this by adding in a basic attack in addition to all of your Artes. This combo string starts off modest, but as more skills unlock, you add attacks onto your basic moveset which means the ability to juggle opponents in the air for an absurd number of hits is very available for you to do so if you please. Wait a minute, did I say juggle in the air?
3. Air Attacks are Vital
Although you’ve always been able to knock your enemies into the air in previous Tales games, never has the system been expanded upon like it has in Tales of Arise. To start, you’re given an entire set of Artes that are only usable in the air. This adds a literal whole other dimension to the combat as you can deck your characters out with movesets that quickly launch your opponent sky high, which then allows you to immediately launch into a set of basic attacks or an Arte attack that will keep your enemy suspended in air, opening them up for further attacks.
2. It’s Darker than Most
The Tales of series has generally been lighthearted a lot of the time and even though there are moments of darkness throughout the series, there has always been an uplifting theme to each game. Tales of Arise is something completely different. You start out as a slave with an Iron Mask grafted to your face for example, and from there you see the horrors of war, betrayals, kids lamenting dead parents, and worse. This is not the Tales games of old and while you will see your usual anime tropes appear from time to time, for the most part, things are awfully serious this time around.
1. It Feels Next-Gen
That may not seem like all that much to write home about as most games that come out these days should feel that way, but the Tales series has always had a way of feeling just a little bit behind the times. Even with Tales of Berseria, there were constant textures that reminded you of a PS3 game and other trappings of old-like visible boundaries separating area to area. All that is gone with Tales of Arise as the game looks simply incredible, with a cel-shaded/anime vibe to it that simply doesn’t have a precedent. Environments are incredibly detailed, character animations are outstanding and there are even entire anime cutscenes dispersed throughout which makes for one hell of a visual package. Combat also feels much more modern thanks to an awesome dodge system that rewards timing and enemy attacks will no longer just home in on you as you can actually jump and dodge away from them now. The bar has been set for all Tales games going forward.
Tales of Arise feels in so many ways like the game that will finally turn the Tales series into a mainstream titan. It has always been slightly overshadowed by its contemporaries like Final Fantasy, but with this release, the tables might finally be turned. It’s a more mature game than its predecessors and clearly wants to stand among the giants of the gaming world. Everything I’ve seen in this game says it’s ready for that.
Tales of Arise is available September 10th, 2021 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.