Tales of Graces is the 12th in the ‘Tales’ series developed and released by Namco but is only around the 7th or 8th game in the series which has been released in European regions. The reason for this is that while being a popular series among its fans, the Tales games are considered a niche series by most. Despite this reputation the series deserves more respect, particularly by anyone who enjoys a J-RPG that is grounded in years of tradition. Graces is a strong entry in the series, though not the best, and will certainly entertain fans of the series and other J-RPG fans for a long time, with the game spanning between 80-100 hours.
Story – 7/10
Story – 7/10
The story of the game follows the adventures of Asbel Lhant, the eldest son to the Lord of Lhant Village, and his friends as they get swept up in a quest that affects the whole world while trying to rescue one of their other friends. The story is very clichéd, this is not to say that it is bad but it is very predictable and isn’t anything special. Anyone who enjoys the story of games should have fun playing the game and watching the events as the cutscenes are still very entertaining and the ‘skits’ that the series are famous for are full of great humour. This is one perk of the Tales series, they feature a perfect balance of serious issues and humour and this is mainly brought about by these optional skits that show conversations between your party members. The cast of characters themselves are all very distinctive, some more annoying than others, and as such they are well-played off each other. Tales of Graces F is named as such because the ‘F’ relates to a future Arc storyline that becomes playable upon completing the main game. This feature extends the game making it even longer and adds replayability.
Gameplay – 8/10
Graces battle gameplay is officially called ‘Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System’ but this means very little in reality, it’s just a name that reflects how the battle play and follows a naming convention used by all the Tales games. The battles feature your chosen playable character and up to 3 AI controlled allies, though you can change between these characters whenever you wish. All characters have A-Arte and B-Arte techniques reflect different styles of fighting which are different for each character, this allows you to mix up your fighting style in different ways depending on the Chain Capacity (ability points) available to you. There are other abilities and techniques available, such as Mystic Artes and Eleth Burst, but A and B-Artes form the bulk of battles. As for the rest of the game, the world of the game is large and you will have fun travelling around it – exploration doesn’t become boring. There are plenty of side quests to get your teeth into and character development itself is a huge quest as characters grow and develop by learning and mastering titles – each character has over 100 with 5 abilities in each to master. All-in-all the game plays out like a traditional Tales game but with a little twist, as is the norm in the series, making it fun and reliable while featuring differences to previous entries in the series to keep it fresh.
Audio – 6/10
In my opinion the soundtrack is the weakest part of the game, its not bad but it has nothing that makes it memorable. The music is composed by series veteran composer Motoi Sakabura so it is well composed and feels rooted with Tales qualities but something just isn’t right about it – it has nothing that feels amazing, no over-arching theme to guide the music... I don’t know. As for the voice acting, that too is not bad but nothing special either, some of the characters are well voiced but others feel dull and wooden.
Overall – 7/10
For fans of the series this game is what is to be expected of the Tales games – more of the same but a little different and they will appreciate the game for this. For newcomers the game will probably be a reasonable J-RPG, one that they find enjoyable but could probably be better.
Words by Adam W.
(Version Tested: PS3)