Tales of Arise is easily my most anticipated game release for the remainder of 2021. After playing the demo, this has only been amplified, albeit with some minor concerns that I doubt will hamper the enjoyment of the full experience.
The demo begins with players choosing their character from among the main cast for the duration of this short gameplay period, though they can be switched regardless. The only major difference from this choice is the scene at the end of the demo. Each character battles uniquely with their own central perks used in the midst of combat.
For instance, the main character, Alphen’s perk, is Flaming Edge, an ability that sacrifices his own HP to perform a powerful strike with his enkindled blade. These perks grant lofty gameplay variety with who players choose to control aside from just their Artes.
Combat itself is delectably smooth with a consistent frame rate and overall performance. If you’ve played any other Tales game before, you will be familiar with the mechanics, UI, and general systems in place. There are slight tweaks and additions to make combat feel fresh for even the veteran crowds.
The demo has numerous readable tutorials accessible from the main menu explaining the intricacies of combat in thoughtfully digestible ways, striking an appreciated balance of guidance and freedom. Without going too in-depth with the mechanics, my general impressions are positive. The perks, synergy skills between the party members, and the perfect dodge evasion technique coalesce to create an undeniably fulfilling experience. I greatly enjoyed myself and tried my hardest not to play too much, given how close the full release is.
However, one slight concern I have with the combat is how tanky the enemies are. This could just be a part of the demo, but some enemies were unquestionably tanky, even when on Normal mode. Part of me wonders if this was purposefully done to grant purchasers a grander window of battle availability to experiment with all the tools. Still, I sincerely hope that the actual game lacks this point.
Map exploration is another component of the demo, and it genuinely blew me away. Tales of Arise somehow manages to be an actualization of the next-generation Tales experience I’ve always wanted, thanks to these beautiful landscapes. Items can be gathered from specific sections of the maps, and enemies can be seen on the overworld, providing a lite strategy for traversal. Honestly, though, I often found myself standing still to bask in the world’s gorgeous lighting, textures, and general aesthetic.
Skits, a Tales staple, make their return. There is a surprisingly decent amount to view here, and they are all equally humorous and endearing, depicting the engaging character banter I have always loved the series for. I do wish the UI on the screen alerting the player of a new skit was larger, though, since it is minuscule and can be easily overlooked. Accessory creation, camping, and cooking are all doable too, so there is a generous degree of content players can learn more about in the demo’s 30-45 minute playtime if they are uncertain whether or not to purchase the full game.
Tales of Arise is shaping up to be a new age JRPG definer, and I, for one, can not wait for its full release in a few weeks. Regardless of if it matches up or surpasses prior Tales titles, I am just glad to finally be receiving a brand new, original entry in this beloved series, with new characters and a new world.
Tales of Arise is launching worldwide on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC on September 10, 2021.
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