Compared with other games in the series, Tales Of The Abyss has a lot going for it. It has a pretty big world map with lots of sidequests, a well paced plot and some interesting ideas thrown into the mix. That isn't to say that it's not without it's fair share of issues. Looking back at this game, it's difficult to pinpoint any major issues really, the game just felt lackluster in some parts. Despite this, the game has pretty much everything you could possibly want in an RPG and playing through the 3DS version (considering we never got the original on the ps2) felt like a blast from the past for all the right reasons. In any case i'm going to get straight to the point.
The characters for the most part aren't very memorable... except for Jade of course though even he had room for improvement as a character, this is what i mean when i say "lackluster". The characters, though having somewhat deep character arcs feel as if they could have bee a lot better than they were and if i were to look at other games in the genre, i could probably pick out a replacement for practically every character.
The story is obviously the driving force of this game and it does it's job well and always manages to give the player plenty of motivation to continue playing as well as offerring some intense moments in the middle portion of the game. The pacing felt real, it wasn't just all joined together in a mess like Tales Of Vesperia and it wasn't a constant push through mud like... uh i don't know, Bioshock? The pacing was just right, enough to get me to enjoy the game though the characters kinda through me back at times due to how lackluster they were.
Character development felt extremely forced to the point that it was worthless, i can't stress this enough, character development for the sake of character development is a waste of time and contributes nothing especially if the character completely loses their identity post development, i'm not going to point fingers here because it could be a spoiler but i think you all know what i mean. Personally i believe character development is but one tool for making great characters, it isn't a required component as many people think, it just helps spice things up a little and i believe that character development feels a tad unrealistic and i would prefer a more mixed personality of characters who constantly evolve through game rather than a completely different change of personality and Tales Of The Abyss makes my point clear.
Anyways that's enough about the story, now it's onto the game play. Combat felt slightly lacking compared to it's predecessor (no not Legendia) Symphonia which allowed you to have a combo of 3 special moves in a chain, now it is limited to only two which is disappointing. Now to make up for this they added field of fonons AKA FOF. This allows you to perform special elemental attacks when you are in a charged area of fonons, sounds cool doesn't it. Problem is, this only comes into play during the later half of the game making the first half of the game pretty tedious in terms of combat.
Thankfully Abyss offers a more in-depth character management system, though skill progression is automatic, there are new areas which can be explored such as fs chambers and capacity cores which help you build your character how you see fit and enhance their most used artes/statistics. Equipment is pretty lackluster however as there is only room for a weapon, body and arm equipment as well as an accessory (helmets count as accessories). This combined with the lack of any form of synthesis/weapon creation (unless you count dins shop) can make character progression feel pretty lackluster (yep, using that word again), basically you equip the strongest equipment you can and stick with it until the end of the game.
Another thing about this game is that it has a lot of side content which can be easily missed due to the pacing of the game, i missed out on half of them due to the fact that they are mostly quest chains and require the player to be very attentive if they wish to unlock everything. I strongly recommend a guide for this game for this reason. There are a lot of quests that amount to nothing seemingly at first but give the player a fat reward by the end of the game but only if you managed to complete other quest chains as well.
The soundtrack is mostly standard for RPG's standards though it is arguably one of the best in the series post Symphonia at least. The battle music is great in the middle portion of the game and there are some interesting yet unmemorable music at certain points in the game. Overall though, the music is good but not great but this is the tales series we are talking about where Sakuraba seems to have a bad hangover every day he writes music for it, i believe it's due to not having the same team of composers that he does with other games or just sheer coincidence though perhaps it is the directors fault for his lackluster performance, who knows?
Look wise, the game is... good enough for the most part. The animated AMV's are stunning though the character models, particularly the faces could have used a bit of work (particularly Asch and Natalia who look embarrassingly ugly) though their skit facials are fine.
I'm sure it is Asch... i'm sure it is...
The voice acting is so-so Jade's va was a nice change of style and fit his character very well though it could have been better. Luke's voice was... unfitting, seriously Yuri Lowenthal would have been way more suited to Guy's character than Luke's due to his easy going attitude but Johnny Yong Bosch works well enough i suppose though that doesn't say too much for Luke. Tear's VA felt as if she could have put a bit more effort into it, Natalia's VA is nauseating as always and i barely even acknowledged Anise's existence due to how pointless of a character she was. Ion wins the prize of being the most gender confused character ever but considering who he really is, i believe the blame lies with science... that is all i will say. Put it this way, if he was shorter and younger, he would have easily been mistaken for a woman with that voice. The main villain himself had a strange choice of VA, i couldn't take him seriously enough due to his VA, not that it's silly, just because it just doesn't sound... evil, and there is a reason for it a guess but i would have chose somebody else.
So while Tales Of The Abyss doesn't really go above and beyond, it remains to be enjoyable from beginning to end and is quite possibly one of the stronger tales games in the series, though it has a lot of room for improvement. I recommend anybody looking desperately to find an RPG to pick it up if they haven't already but if you're looking for something mind blowing, I'd put it on your consideration list and leave it at that whilst you wait for something better.
Lifespan: Quite Long
Worth replaying: Maybe
Sorry for my lack of write ups recently, i've not been finishing many games recently nor do i have much drive to review another game at this moment, i'll try to keep things going some way or another.
- Once you head down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny... and you get dental.