Title: Tales of Crestoria
Developer: Bandai Namco
Release Date: July 16, 2020
Reviewed On: iOS
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Gacha JRPG
In recent years, the Tales series has found a special place in my heart, given that they are some of the few JRPGs that I actually beat. The series well known for its gripping stories, lively and relatable characters, and action-based combat. Now, Tales of Crestoria is Bandai Namco’s latest endeavor to make a gacha game based in this beloved universe. While it manages to bring all the emotional story beats and memorable character fans expect, it made me wish that this was a full-fledged console experience.
Tales of Crestoria places you in the shoes of Kanata, a bright-eyed young boy from a small village who believes in the good of people and bringing justice to wrongdoers. Everyone born in this world is given a Vision Orb from birth. These orbs act as a sort of police camera and form of communication to otherworldly beings called “Enforcers.” If enough people pray hard enough to these Enforcers, they will appear and basically kill any criminal without a fair trial.
Kanata soon learns through his own actions that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge others. However, this is only after he commits a crime, and without proper context, he’s immediately condemned to death by the Enforcers. From there, he sets off on an adventure with what I felt is one of the stronger Tales cast of characters. Vicious, “The Great Transgressor,” Misella, the overprotective love interest of Kanata, who also has a bigger appetite for beef than myself, and Aegis, the blind follower of justice, are just a few of the well-written characters met throughout the story.
This isn’t a typical journey of “let’s go save the world since we’re all good guys” kind of adventure. It borders on a more anti-hero delivery, especially when the group is confronted with various trials. Thankfully, the Tales storytelling “skits” also make a return, which is always a fun time to help develop relationships between characters and provide great comic relief segments.
Throughout the journey, you’ll occasionally run into characters from other Tales games who will join you as a temporary party member when it pertains to the story or side-missions. However, the inclusion of these characters is ruined by the game’s lack of explanation as to why they are there in the first place. Typically, there would be some portal or reason they ended up in the universe, but here, it’s explained that they were all simply born in the world of Crestoria. It ends up hurting some of the more significant motivations these characters had, such as Velvet from Tales of Berseria and how she got her demon arm or what happened to her brother, Laphicet.
Gameplay includes a fairly standard JRPG turn-based system against a few familiar monsters from the series. One interesting option is that you can pick your favorite Tales character from any series to receive as a free SSR for just beginning the game. This was great for me because I didn’t have to freak out about having a weak team from a bad first gacha pull. However, the gems needed to pull extra gacha characters are a little too much. You can play the game to receive gems, but you need 2,500 for a ten pull, and that requires quite a bit of playtime since gems are acquired through the main story and achievements. If you want 2,500 outright, you will have to pay $40. Most other gachas charge $32 by comparison.
Tales of Crestoria’s campaign develops slower than what veterans of the series are probably used to, but this ends up working as a mobile experience. Each character has a basic attack, two Artes, and a Mystic Arte. After a few attacks, the Mystic Arte meter charges to unleash an attack familiar to what fans have seen in other entries of the series. Attack animations insanely fun to watch, and the Mystic Arte all have console-quality visuals. Thankfully, there isn’t too much a barrier if you don’t grind, and most battles through the campaign are easily approachable, which I appreciated since I didn’t have to worry about equipment and other things to level up.
Tales of Crestoria‘s items revolve around having the proper materials to level up your character, skills, and Memoria Stones. These stones essentially act as your main accessory to boost your team’s stats. There’s also a sub-stone menu where you can arrange stones of certain types to give an additional stat boost to your current team. There’s also some PVP/PVE options with Arena battles, which ends up begin borderline pay-to-win, along with raids, a guild function, which creates a well-rounded JRPG experience for mobile devices.
Sadly, all of this is hurt by the game’s technical issues that players have been experiencing since launch. Many of these issues hinder the overall gameplay experience. Things like the chat function not working, or a glitch that locks you in the tutorial. Throw in extremely long loading screens from menu to menu, and massive frame drops during battles even on powerful devices, and the game’s positive experience takes a dive quickly.
Other strange features are raids being automatically sped up to compensate for the other players, which is fine, but there were still choppy frame rates as my phone began to overheat. These issues and more have plagued the game since launch, which is why we delayed the review in hopes they were fixed. This makes me wish that the game was postponed longer to ensure that fans received the best version available. Now, it’s as if we are still waiting since it desperately requires a patch. Bandai Namco hopped on multiple maintenance updates, but it’s a bit difficult to gauge if anything has improved. Thankfully, the load times seem to be improving.
Tales of Crestoria has a lot to offer fans through its cast of characters and plot that could rival other series’ entries. However, the technical issues will leave you stuck in a loading screen as you experience constant frame drops during every battle. It ultimately made me wish the game was just released on console because, as of right now, I don’t find these unfair gacha systems appealing enough to warrant sitting through the game’s technical complications.
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