Into this world sustained by the Score, a stone has been thrown. The ripples will soon try to instigate a gigantic change.
The eighth mothership title in Namco's Tales Series, and its tenth anniversary title. It was released in Japan for the Playstation 2 in 2005, and in North America (but not Europe) in 2006.Thousands of years ago in the fantasy world of Auldrant, the Songstress Yulia Jue used her powers to read the memories of the planet itself. She detailed her findings in a vast prophecy known as the Score, which promised unlimited prosperity and wealth for the entire world at the end. In the centuries since then, two great nations known as the Kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and the Malkuth Empire have fought over the scattered Fonstones upon which the Score is written. Between them lies the Order of Lorelei, a religious order dedicated to the safekeeping of the Score, who act as a neutral arbitrator.Tales of the Abyss follows the adventures of Idiot Hero, Jerkass and Sheltered Aristocrat Luke fon Fabre, a Kimlascan noble who has never been allowed outside of his manor since he was kidnapped from his vacation home seven years previously. Due to the trauma from this incident, he developed retrograde amnesia concerning his entire existence, and had to be taught everything again from scratch, even basic skills like how to walk.His mundane existence changes dramatically when mysterious White Mage Tear Grants breaks into Luke's manor with the aim of killing his swordmaster, her brother Van Grants. Upon touching Luke, she and Luke are accidentally teleported halfway around the world, landing right in the middle of Malkuth. Together, they try to return Luke home while gradually unravelling the secrets behind his status as The Chosen One of legend.In true Tales Series fashion, it doesn't take long for the first game-changing plot twist to hit.The game has an Animated Adaptation produced by Sunrise. The first episode aired on October 3, 2008 on TOKYO MX; in addition, another channel had an hour long special the following day, showing both the first and second episode. The anime adaptation was released on October 11, 2011 by Bandai Entertainment in North America, albeit sub-only, even though the video game has an English dub.The game was originally released for the PS2, and a port for the Nintendo 3DS was released internationally. It was released in Europe on November 25th, 2011, marking the first time the Old Continent gets to officially play it. The 3DS version was released in North America on February 14th, 2012.Tropes Include:
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The anime suffers a lot from this. Some situations are not properly foreshadowed or even explained, so they come completely out of nowhere and/or don't make any sense to people not familiar with the video game. Case in point: It's never explained why Ion dies if he reads the Planet Score. He just does. In the game, this was explained properly, specially in skits.
Another example: After the first battle against Van, Jade and Guy say that Luke knows how to use his hyperresonance, something that was never brought up until that moment. Guy just makes a brief Hand Wave, saying that "he's being practicing in secret". In the game, this was explained in a whole sub-plot in which Tear teaches Luke how to control his power, we learn Tear's past as Legretta's pupil (another sub-plot barely shown in the anime), and she and Luke grow closer (making their romance more believable).
Adults Are Useless / Competence Zone: Averted by Jade, who is twice the age of the rest of the cast but is often complimented on his ability to keep up with the younger heroes. Lampshaded by his occasional comments about how his joints ache in his "old age" (he's 35), usually giving him an excuse to get out of manual labor (IE crate-moving puzzles; ironically, when he does have to push a crate around, he does so with one hand, the other remaining in his pocket).
Aerith and Bob: There are names like Luke, Natalia, Jade, Guy and Anise alongside monikers like Mystearica (Tear for short), Gailardia Galan Gardios (Guy for short), and Vandesdelca (Van for short).
An Aesop: People can change, not only on an individual level (e.g. Luke), but the ultimate conflict between the heroes and the Big Bad is over whether society can adapt to a world without the score or whether it is doomed to fall back into its previous ways.
Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Done interestingly near the start of the game, when Jade, an older and far more experienced character, kneels down before Luke, who technically outranks him socially, in order to ask for help with accomplishing his mission to reach the king of Kimlasca. Luke's immaturity in even asking this of him, and Jade's graceful acquiescence, is what allows Jade to keep his dignity in this situation, and the fact that he's willing to go so far underscores just how important their mission really is.
Akashic Records: The Score, which predicts everything from national histories to what an individual person is going to do that day. Additionally, Sync has a Mystic Arte called Akashic Torment.
The wolf matriarch you kill in the beginning of the game. Only because of the required cute creature in your party burning part of the forest down do you even have a reason for killing her.
Arietta. What makes her death especially tragic is how...sudden it is. All the other God Generals the party kills are at least able to give a moving Final Speech before succumbing to their wounds. Arietta, however, barely even has time to form a single sentence before dying.
She's also the first human boss you actually kill, not counting battles that end with someone falling to their "deaths" only to turn up alive later. And she's a little girl. And her desire for revenge is completely justified by this point.
Largo. He dies after discovering his daughter is still alive, but is in fact an enemy princess.
The older girls in the Order, who did their best to make Anise's life miserable, mocked her parentage, and insisted she was incapable of being a good Fon Master guardian.
Happens to Van and Tear while they are watchers in the Qliphoth. The other soldiers were jealous of them because they came from the Outer Lands and are descendants of Yulia.
All Your Powers Combined: Nebilim. She has the best Strike and Fonic Artes in the entire game. She also has Mystic Artes like Rending Saber, Mystic Cage, Indignation, Innocent Shine, and Fortune's Arc.
Allergic to Love: Guy is afraid of women, to be specific, although that doesn't stop him from hitting on them and then running the hell away. It's also suggested that he doesn't entirely know that he's turning women on, as seen when he compliments Tear on her appearance.
Anime Theme Song: "Karma" by Bump of Chicken — the vocals were removed in the English localization. It was even recycled for the animated adaptation.
Anti-Frustration Features: A few parts, the plot demands you to go to a town that's half way across the map. The game gives you an option to immediately warp there if you want to.
During the stealth section, you have to sneak the party past a large regiment of guards. If you get caught enough times, the game will give you the option of just brute-forcing your way through by fighting the guards in normal battles.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You only fight with four characters, while you have a total of six; complete with Hand Wave as to what the other characters are doing while your main party is fighting.
Arc Number: Everything seems to come in sevens: seven fonons, seven fonstones, seven fonic hymns, seven years since Luke lost his memories, seven Ion replicas, seven playable characters (though that one might be coincidence) and various other examples.
Spinoza, after the death of his colleagues due to his betrayal.
Mieu is also an atoner since he's been exiled from his village because of his actions. He is just a small child, but his playing around lead to a horrible fire that killed several of his kind and started a war with another species that is now dominating and terrorizing his people.
Awesome, but Impractical: Luke's, Guy's, and Anise's second level Mystic Artes, which become available in a New Game+. They are a pain in the ass to learn how to use, and either require a particularly unfavorable HP level to activate or have a high cost associated with them (-20,000 gald for Anise). Also, Luke and Anise's only be used once per battle.
The extensions to Final Fury (Dying Moon) and Radiant Howl (Ion, which can only be used if Ion is with the group) add extra damage, can be used an unlimited number of times, AND count as two separate Mystic Artes (meaning more GRADE), but at the cost of your spellcasters being unable to cast. This means Jade and Tear cannot use their Mystic Artes until someone else uses one with no extension, and nobody can cast a fonic arte. There is also a risk that Anise's can lock up the game (if there are no sound effects for Dying Moon, your game will freeze).
Tear's second Mystic Arte, Fortune's Arc, also follows the trope (being hard to unlock), while Jade's Indignation averts it (as his AI can unlock it easily), though neither have high costs to use (100 TP); both require certain artes to be used a certain number of times (Thunder Lance 200 times, all Fonic Artes 50 times minimum +Judgement being the spell used to start the Mystic Arte). It should note that Indignation CAN be cast after Ion or Dying Moon (or Fortune's Arc extension), as it doesn't require a fonic arte to cast. Both can only be used once, however. Fortune's Arc also has an extension, which deals extra damage and gives status buffers.
Big Bad: Vandesdelca Musto Fende (AKA, Master Van)
Bilingual Bonus: Of a sort. The Fonic Language, if you can learn to read it, will provide you with a lot of these, usually in the form of Shout Outs to other Tales games.
Bishounen: Majority of the male cast fit this trope.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Anise. Sugary sweet on the outside, utterly cynical on the inside. Mind you, she's not all that bad on the inside when the chips are down, being ultimately something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. She is also The Mole working for Grand Maestro Mohs and has been giving him information about Ion and the team since day one.
Bittersweet Ending: Depending on who the red haired person at the end is, Tear or Natalia will be very sad.
Break the Haughty: Pretty much everything that happens to Luke in the first half of the game. Also, for Natalia, she subdues a bit when she joins the party, realizing quickly that fighting in real life is much different from practice. The real kick for her, though, is when she discovers she's not really a princess, and her real father is one of the God-Generals.
The Call Has Bad Reception: After completing the Absorbtion Gate, Lorelei warns Luke and Asch that Van survived and is trying to imprison it. The problem? Lorelei used the ancient Ispanian translation of Van's name, "The one who would seize glory". If it had just used his normal name, Luke and the party could have started to head out and foil his schemes a whole month earlier.
Calling Your Attacks: Everyone in the main party and Quirky Miniboss Squad does this with their artes. Luke, Guy, and Asch will yell out a phrase to accompany their Field of Fonons Artes, e.g. "Blade reveal your fury! Dragon Tempest!"
Cannot Spit It Out: Luke and Tear. This goes on for about a third of the entire game. The rest of the party easily knows that they have romantic feelings for each other, but Luke can't spit it out because, well, he's seven years old and his fonons are seperating, so, by Luke's logic, why tell her how he feels when she'll just be brokenhearted when he disappears, and Tear can't spit it out because she's textbook kuudere.
Chance Meeting Between Antagonists:There is a scene where the protagonists are going to visit a scholar who have knowledge pertinent to their quest. When they arrive, the Big Bad is already there, reading up about the same subject. The two of them have a bit of a row, but out of respect for the scholar (an old friend of his), the Big Bad leaves without anything coming of it.
Character Development: The entire main party goes through different levels of this, but Luke more than anyone else in the game.
Chekhov's Gunman: The Dark Wings are mentioned near the very beginning of the game and finally show up a while after.
Childhood Marriage Promise: Natalia and Luke made one, which became one of the defining points in Natalia's life as it contained the ideals to which they would strive to as future monarchs. Luke doesn't remember making it, so Natalia reminds him about it at every opportunity and dreams about how romantic it would be if his first recalled memory was of the promise. It's revealed that she really made the promise with Asch, which leads to much guilt on Natalia's part for forcing her dreams onto Luke, and forms the basis for her own personal struggle to differentiate Luke and Asch.
The Chosen One: Luke. But it's not as simple as that. Asch was the original Chosen One, and Luke was created as a mere decoy. But both Luke and Asch's individual actions coincide with those of The Chosen One, as predicted in the Score. The simplest explanation is that they are both "The Chosen One".
Combat Medic: Both Natalia and Tear can alternate as a long/mid distance fighter or the healer, depending on which kind of healing you prefer (Gradual area-of-effect spells from Tear, or concentrated single-target artes by Natalia)
Combination Attack: the "Field of Fonons" thing. Whenever a character uses [Technique A] which is (say) Fire-elemental, it leaves a circle on the battlefield charged with Fire. Stand in that circle and use [Technique B], and [Technique B] will turn into something new (and generally Fire-elemental).
Compressed Adaptation: This is most notable in the CD dramas, though the manga suffers from this as well. Many things are left out of the CD dramas, including the Albiore, an important vehicle that you spend several quests and subquests in the game acquiring, reacquiring, and powering up. Also left out of the dramas is Mieu, though some would say that's a good thing.
Conditioned to Accept Horror: Tales of the Abyss not only has Ion go to his death with a smile because he can't grasp that his individual life has any meaning besides what he can do with it. Instead of resenting it, he is honestly happy that betraying him and causing his death helped The Mole. While he's an extreme example, the entire population of Auldrant qualifies.
Luke's own father and uncle are willing to send him to die both [to set off a war they'll win and because the Score says so: it's not until fairly late in the game that they seem to realize that this was a cruel thing to do to Luke and Natalia and it would have been not just ok, but good for them to not want to do it.
Grand Maestro Mohs sees nothing wrong with a genocidal war, since the Score was made to bring prosperity to Auldrant, so it's obviously for the best. He actually doesn't even qualify as a Well-Intentioned Extremist on Auldrant. His is the moderate faction, containing the normal, sensible members of the Order who just want the best for Auldrant, like Tear.
Almost everyone reacts with shock and horror to the idea of revealing a Score of death, especially if doing so would save someone's life and go against the Score.
The Big Bad. When Luke asks him if he cares about Luke at all other than as a living weapon he honestly doesn't understand the question, mistaking it for an existential one. The Big Bad was brought into the world as a Laser Guided Tykebomb, in accordance with the Score with parents who were aware of this the entire time and only thought about him in terms of that function just like how he regards Luke. Oh, and as a babysitter for their 'real' child. The people who used him to destroy his homeland and as an excuse for performing deadly experiments on civilians who were going to die anyway considered themselves fully justified, between the Score and using him as a scapegoat. It was okay to hook him into a machine and destroy Hod for the greater good, and he's doing this to allow humanity to survive the Scored end of the world.
The Start of Darkness for most of the loyal god-generals was when they ran into a horror that they could not accept. Largo's daughter was kidnapped, causing his wife to kill herself and he could not have justice. Legretta suddenly fell in love with someone she went after in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and the knowledge that this was likely Scoredmakes her skin crawl. Sync, like Ion believes that he can't have value other than as a tool and hates this.
Convection Shmonvection: Played straight, and lampshaded in a skit. (See Exposed to the Elements, further below.) Heck, even touching the magma isn't that bad. The characters can be completely submerged in magma with only a couple hit points missing to show for it.
Corrupt Church: It gets better as the story goes on. Only the actions of Grand Masetro Mohs fits into this category.
Cosmic Deadline: Funny how you pretty much do nothing different in fights with the Big Bad, and he finally decides to die for good after roughly 60 hours.
Crapsaccharine World: Auldrant seriously is one hell of a world as you progress throughout Tales of the Abyss. After the peace of Engeve, you come to learn that an entire nation of people were literally sacrificed to appease an ancient prophecy, the world itself hangs on nothing more than energy pillars to escape the hellish sea of poison and mud that lies below its true surface, you experience the first hand hardships and horrors of war, both gameplay wise AND even storywise, and amongst all of the political and social hardships and issues that plague the world, EVERYONE on this world STILL has to deal with the bloodthirsty monsters and thugs that lurk outside every hamlet. Thankfully, the game helps uplift things to show that it can be a World Half Full.
Mieu: But master, I'm a boy! Luke: You sure don't sound like one!
Crutch Character: Jade, before he conveniently has his powers sealed to the same level as the other party members. And slowly works through said seal, conveniently gaining power at the same rate as everyone else.
Cryptic Conversation: A subversion. The conversations with Lorelei, and the Score itself, are considered cryptic and become hard to understand not because they're metaphorical or mystical but because people expect them to be. 'Light of the Sacred Flame' is not a metaphor, it's a translation out of the language the Score was spoken in of Luke fon Fabre. Miner's City is also not a metaphor or poetic description of Akzeriuth: the city didn't have a name when Yulia read the Score because it hadn't been built yet, so Lorelei just called it what it was. Because of this, the characters seem to assume that Scion of Lorelei is another metaphor or that Lorelei is saying something mystical when he tries to explain to Luke that the reason Lorelei is speaking to him is that they're one and the same entity, and Luke needs to know certain things to save them both.
Cutscene Incompetence: Your party is surrounded by a bunch of Mooks that you've already beaten a hundred times over, and they decide to surrender. Meanwhile...
Cutscene Power to the Max: ... Tear can put an entire house to sleep, jump off a roof, and nearly kill someone without breaking a sweat. Though in another cutscene near the end of the game, she strains herself heavily just putting eight people to sleep, claiming that she never put that many people to sleep before. While it may be arguable that she only attacked the people that were currently in the courtyard of Fabre mansion at the start of the game (and only made Luke, Van and Guy kinda groggy, at that), it's somewhat unlikely that every knight in Natalia's palace was pretending to be asleep, though they'd probably do it if it meant that Natalia would be safe. It's worth noting that Tear was already feeling weak from the miasma before she put that band of replicas to sleep.
Anise, to a degree, who has the most dark-based magics of the playable characters.
Dark Reprise: Van has two leitmotifs: The first, titled "Van", is a majestic, heroic-sounding melody. The second, titled "Van — Truth", which plays when he shows his true colors at Akzeriuth, is a variation of the first melody, which is played in a minor key and which sounds more menacing.
Death Seeker: Played straight by Asch, subverted by Luke. Interestingly, there are snake-like enemy mooks that are actually called "Deathseekers".
Deconstruction: Although it's not as big as the game's Deconstructor Fleet attitude towards destiny tropes, the game still takes a stab at the Marty Stu cliche through Jade by showing just how dangerous a Marty Stu-type character would be. When it comes to fonic artes and science, nobody can match Jade. Period. He created the first replica at an improbable age (nine!) and mastered artes adults found difficult without any hassle. However, while brilliant, he's also a complete sociopath with no emotional attachment to the world. Jade reflects on this later in the game when he realises that, despite having the most incredible mind in the world, he considers his lack of consideration nothing short of inhuman and comes to believe that his intellect has been nothing but a blight on the planet. This culminates in him expressing a wish to go back in time and kill himself as an infant.
Luke's Lost Fon Drive Mystic Arte is usable only when Luke has less than 15% HP.
Story wise, he is also only able to use it at the end of the game, when his body is (quite literally) falling apart.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Usually, you want to have Luke and Tear in your party when you fight Van for the last time, and to listen to what they have to say to him, but by changing around your team, and getting rid of Luke/Tear, or both. The lines spoken are different, and the conversation will be whoever the current party leader is, and Van, while the scene shows The party leader running in. This was later returned in Tales of Vesperia.
While playing a New Game+, changing Luke's title to one post-Important Haircut will lead to Guy having an extra line in his introduction scene at the beginning of the game.
On the first playthrough, it's more or less impossible to see both of Sync's mystic artes in his first costume unless you're at a higher difficulty. However, he has cut-ins for both when he uses Harrowing Gale. Likewise, it's possible on a second playthrough to get Luke's first mystic arte from the start, and there is in fact a different cut-in.
Disc One Final Dungeon: The Absorbtion Gate takes place about 3/4 through the game, but if you experience the build up and the seemingly resolution of the entire plotline up to facing the Big Bad, not to mention the kickass music when you fight him, it's a safe bet to say the developers wanted players to think this was the last dungeon.
Disc One Nuke: By exploiting a Good Bad Bug, it's possible to get the Vorpal Sword, a near-endgame level weapon for Luke and Guy, the first time you can run around on the world map.
By exploiting the trade item system correctly, the player can get very powerful weapons for all of the party much sooner than that they would otherwise, making much of the first half of the game or so a joke, including beating the Hopeless Boss Fight against Asch the first time without hardly trying.
Well, sort of. After you fight the Big Bad the first time, he throws himself off the ledge and into the planet's core. Everyone thinks he died, and he himself was expecting to die, but he actually survives. When he dies for real, you kill him.
Distressed Damsel: Fon Master Ion, a rare male example, and further supported to his extremely girly appearance. (And female voice actress.)
The Ditz: While not being a full blown example like Colette Brunel, Natalia has her moments of profound stupidity. While in the Shurrey Hill Sephiroth, Anise convinces Natalia that Van'sbeard and eyebrows give him special powers. In a skit in Daath after the party has spent significant time in a desert region, everyone remarks about how sweaty they are. Instead of being worried about whether or not she may actually be a real princess, Natalia is more concerned about smelling bad.
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: During the Contamination Sidequest, Dist feels sorry for Jade and tries to make him feel better with amounts to a platitude since Luke is doomed to become Deader than Dead and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Jade is unamused, both since Asch having Luke's memories won't make him Luke any more than the Nebilim replica containing Professor Nebilim's memories made her Professor Nebilim and when Dist pities you, that's when you know you've really hit rock bottom.
Doomed Hometown: Inverted: Luke's hometown isn't destroyed, the Big Bad's is, and it's one of the reasons he hates the Score.
Dying Moment of Awesome: You have to admit how cool it was how Asch died. Unarmed at first, he manages to fight off dozens of soldiers but then ends up stabbed in the back. The sword goes through him, another three swords get stabbed through his body. He kills the last remaining soldiers, remains standing and pulls one of the swords out before his strength leaves him and he falls to the ground and tells Luke that it's all up to him as he gives the last of his power to him.
The Empire: Averted, but Mohs tries to convince King Ingobert VI of Kimlasca that Malkuth is this and is trying to mobilize forces to invade Kimlasca, only for the heroes, who had actually seen the country with their own eyes, met a colonel in its military, and visited the locations supposedly gathering forces, to run into the throne room and inform the king of the truth even taking the colonel in question, Jade Curtiss, along with them.
The Evils of Free Will: A war that was destroying the world was stopped by the creation of the Score which set the future in stone and is repeatedly stated to make individual choices mean absolutely nothing. Since the Score is the optimal future, the one that creates the most happiness and prosperity trying to fight it even to save someone's life by telling them their Death Score is considered an evil action. Of course, it's all futile anyway, since replicas are the only ones with free will. If the Score is the best future, then entities that have no place in that future must be evil, or at the best 'not good.' This explains Mohs' opinion of them.
False Flag Operation: Attempted by Van and Friends. Subverted in that their intended target doesn't fall for it. (Well, Natalia does. But she at least has enough common sense to ask the other side about the attack before pushing the big red "TO WAR" button.)
Friendly Enemy: More or less everyone but Mohs and Asch. Almost everybody has had professional relationships in the same military before the fighting starts, and the lack of real animosity is palpable.
Friendly Fireproof: Annoyingly hand waved by Jade, who says at one point that he can't use artes to fight back, because there were too many civilians around without friend-or-foe markings.
It might still be hand waving, but a book in Grand Chokmah explains 'marking' and how it pertains to preventing friendly fire. It's better than no explanation, at least.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Both in-universe and out of universe, there's Guy's fear of women. It's played for laughs, up until it's revealed what caused it. Almost everyone in the party felt horrible for having made fun of him for it, and it's probably safe to say that a lot of fans instantly felt bad for laughing at it.
Gainax Ending: Wait, so, um...Why are Luke and Asch shining like that? What, are they melding or something? Why did the screen go completely white? Why did Asch's hand just twitch? Why are the credits rolling right now without answering those questions?! Oh, good, there's a after-credits stinger. And he's back! Wait, his hair is long again. But his sword's sheath is affixed similarly to Luke's. But his hair is long and Tear seems more surprised than relieved and "I promised someone" could refer to either Tear or Natalia, not to mention that Jade's the only one who would know about the Big Bang Effect (the reason it would be Asch instead of Luke) and he looks like someone's killed his puppy—GAAAAAHHH. Some people think it's obviously Luke, some people think it's obviously Asch, and there's a stack of evidence on both sides. But for those who don't think there's any reason for a controversy to exist, Word of God says that you're SUPPOSED to decide what the ending means for yourself. Who would say that about anything if there were an obvious, straightforward answer?
Gainaxing: Have Tear as the displayed character and start running. Also, a number of cutscenes.
Also Lorelei, who is given a rather deep and masculine voice.
Generation Xerox: A Laser Guided Tykebombborn specifically for the purpose of destroying a city ends up defying the Score in order to save the world from utter destruction, gathering a group of allies, one of whom was originally out to kill him and another of which betrays him. Also, his friend Ion dies and he's helpless to save him. There are several more ways in which Van and Luke fit this trope.
The Ghost: In Daath, the player can find a book listing all of the higher-ups of the Order and Oracle Knights. Of all the names, one of them, 6th Division Commander Cantabile, is never mentioned or seen anywhere in the game (though she does eventually make an appearance in Tales Of Fandom vol. 2, as part of Tear's backstory.)
Goggles Do Something Unusual: Jade's glasses don't do anything to correct his vision (which is, in fact, above average). Instead, his eyes are where his ability to use magic is concentrated, and the glasses act as a Power Limiter.
Gold Digger: Anise. Justified in that she is trying to shovel her parents out of debt. Nonetheless, it's slightly squicky to see this thirteen-year-old girl trying to twine herself around Luke. Or, say, Peony, who is thirty-six.
The Squick isn't as strong if you take Luke's age at face value (17). However, it's worse if you go by his real age (7).
Good Is Not Nice: Asch is trying to accomplish the same thing you are, to stop Van from destroying the world and replacing it with a Replica world, but that sure doesn't stop Asch from passionately hating Luke and threatening to kill him.
Graceful Loser: Largo, his last words are praising Natalia for landing the killing blow so effectively, giving Luke some advice and then saying goodbye to Natalia, who is his daughter.
Van, oddly enough, he says goodbye to Tear, tells Luke not to call him master and asks his subordinates to forgive him as he dies for good.
Harder Than Hard: Unknown. All enemies stats are increased fourfold compared to what they were on Normal. Mystic Artes can and will destroy you. Bosses have such incredibly high defense that you're essentially forced to spend millions of Gald on a potential Game Breaker sword for Luke and Guy in Chesedonia if you want to do more than one damage per hit when said bosses easily have over 70k HP even in the first chapter of the game.
The US version reduced the multiplier of Unknown difficulty to 3.5x, but boosted the first boss' stats, ironically making it one of the longest and most tiring battles in the game if you play on Unknown since the beginning (and maybe also one of the hardest, due to the lack of resources you have by that point).
The second boss fight in the game is actually considered the hardest boss fight on Unknown by most people: unless you're above Lv30, you'll hit 1 damage on every hit, when she has around 10000 Hit Points. That, and she can already use her Mystic Arte by this point on Unknown.
Have a Nice Death: If you die on a boss battle, you can view a small skit that helps you exploit the enemy's weakness.
Heir Club for Men: Heavily implied in regards to House Gardios. Mary and several other people gave their lives to save Guy in large part because they considered protecting the heir to the family to be more important than their own lives. Guy was only five at the time, yet Mary, his older sister, was clearly several years older than him when she died. It's possible that there were other, more complicated reasons for passing the torch to Guy instead. But given how young Guy was at the time (and thus how hard it would be to tell just how good he'd do at his job), this trope is a VERY likely explanation.
Actually, it's not implied that way at all; it's actually far more likely that the Score simply stated otherwise. Sure, the Score also stated that Hod would fall, but there was probably something in the Score read at the wedding of Count and Countess Gardios about how they would have two children, and the second born, the son, would be the heir to the Gardios name. After all, he did become the heir, if only by default because everyone else died for it. This is the more likely explanation, given what we see in the universe for how leaders (and, well, everything else) are chosen. He was chosen because the Score dictated he would be the heir, not because he was male. After all, that's why King Ingobert is the ruler of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear, and not his sister and/or brother-in-law, despite being ineffectual. Ingobert proves that competence and talent for being a ruler don't matter. Peony was picked for the same reason over the rest of the options, but he's by far better at his job.
Heroic BSOD: Luke, after he commits an act that makes everyone in the party hate him, even though he's the main character, exacerbated after he finds out he's a replica.
Further exacerbated by the fact that he had been post-hypnotically manipulated into doing it by his beloved master who also gave him a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness speech at the same time, and that his father and uncle knew that they were sending him and his party to suicide bomb a city so that they could use it as an excuse to start a World War, and that the destruction of Akzeriuth destabalized the entire continent, leading to potentially thousands more deaths. And did we mention that Luke is one of the few RPG main characters that absolutely hates killing people, had a BSOD the first time he killed someone, and still has nightmares about every person he kills?
Everyone in the party except for Jade has one at some point.
Well, one could argue he has one shortly before the second trip to the Tower of Rem because Jade doesn't want to send Luke off to die. It's one of the something like four times Jade ever shows how he feels. He also has one in a skit where he says, in all seriousness, he wishes he could go back in time and kill himself as a newborn because of what he has invented. He gets over both very, very quickly, but nonetheless.
Ion. Asch repeatedly attempts this, but never quite pulls it off. He eventually dies because he wouldn't accept a weapon from Luke, in a great aversion of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
Also, after he realizes what a complete ass he's been, Luke slowly begins to develop an inferiority complex and think the only way to redeem himself is through this. He appears to do this in the ending, but it's not made clear whether he does or not.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: If you read Luke's journals toward the end of the game, you'll realize that he decides against telling Tear how he feels because his body is going to disintegrate soon anyway and it would just break her heart.
Subverted; see what happens after Akzeriuth in this scene. (only the first 55 seconds is relevant)
Forget Akzeriuth. Remember the thousands of technical infants that Luke and Asch sacrifice in order to obliterate the miasma in the second half of the game, after Dist tore a bloody swath through them in order to prevent them from sacrificing themselves in that manner in the first place? Not to mention all the Replicas that Luke and company had to have blown through in the final dungeon, or how Ion (and thus probably Synch) was only two years old.
Informed Ability: Van taught Tear the fonic hymns, and we get referenced to him using them, but we never hear him sing like Tear.
Informed Flaw: Jade says several times that he doesn't understand what death means. This is from a guy who as a child used the still very experimental Fomicry on his Professor in a desperate attempt to keep her from dying (with disastrous results) and comes to greatly regret the suffering and death that his creation of Fomicry has caused. Yeah, that definitely is the sign of an amoral sociopath.
Innocent Innuendo: Anise's suggestion to Florian that they sleep together. Luke is understandably squicked by this until Anise clarifies that she means the whole group.
Intergenerational Friendship: It's pointed out many times how much older Jade is than the rest of the group (particularly with Anise, of whom he's close to three times her age). Not that he wants to admit that they're friends.
Irony: in the Cheagle Woods storyline, when Luke is telling Mieu to breathe fire all over the place, he is warned that Mieu's doing so could cause another forest fire. Luke simply responds that, if that were to happen, it would be all Mieu's fault, disregarding the fact that he (Luke) was giving the orders. At first, this appears to be yet another example of Luke's stupidity and irresponsibility, but It becomes both this trope and a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when Akzeriuth is destroyed.
It Gets Easier: Subverted with Luke who never gets used to killing people. Jade even mentions that he knows that Luke doesn't sleep at night, because of the nightmares he has. Played straight with Natalia though.
Luke at the start of the game qualifies as well. For a seven year old member of the highest levels of nobility with the life experience of a toddler, he's surprisingly down to Earth and his rudeness is tempered by his extreme aversion to killing and desire to protect people.
Luke, before he realizes what a complete ass he's been and gets an Important Haircut.
Sync is the game's most triumphant, unrepentant example, however. Any sympathy from his Freudian Excuse is negated by him kicking the dog at every opportunity.
Jiggle Physics: If Tear is your on-screen character, her Gag Boobs bounce when she runs. This can be noticed in certain cutscenes as well, e.g. a scene that involves Tear walking towards the screen with her entire body in clear focus.
Can be averted. If you take too long to save Ginji and the Albiore I, he really will fall to his death.
Oddly, though, the game is playing this straight at the exact same time: the entire reason you're trying to save Ginji and the Albiore I is to save the people remaining in St. Binah before it sinks, which conveniently takes long enough for the party to go halfway around the world and engage in a Fetch Quest. The anime adaptation rewrites things to make more sense: the party doesn't take part in the first-mentioned act at all, and Noelle happens to arrive at St. Binah with the Albiore Just in Time.
Karma Houdini: Sooooo many, but the largest offenders are everyone who joins your party except Natalia! They all hid something from Luke that might have stopped everything that happened, yet while Luke has to suffer for it, the rest just waltz merrily on like they were innocent. Of note is Guy, who was working with Van, Jade, who figured out the most important hint early but was to lazy to give a damn, Ion, who also figured it out but felt the need to keep it to himself, and Anise, who outright betrayed them, loses her excuse due to the fact her hostage parents could have been saved multiple times. They all owned up to it, but they didn't even get half what they should have for their treatment of Luke. As spoiled as he was being, he WAS merely a child in an adults body, and now they ALL knew it. He was not a young adult relearning things, he literally is practically a newborn who was just betrayed by the person he trusted most.
Then there's Asch, While everyone was busy guilting Luke, no one seems to mind that he tried to kill him at least twice, the first time while he was helping the other God-Generals slaughter the 140 crew members of the Tartarus. Doesn't go under Easily Forgiven, because they never seem to even remember it at all. Not to mention that they forget him possessing Luke's body and forcing him to attack Tear for kicks. They also ignore the fact he could have stopped Van's entire plan if instead of attacking someone as much an innocent dupe and victim as him, he co-operated with them and explained what was happening.
Plenty from villains all around; the most overt would be Sync's blow below the belt towards Anise.
Legretta's slaughter of Belkend and Sheridan's Class I and Class M tech-heads was pretty horrific too.
Kissing Cousins: Natalia and Luke. Subverted: while Luke's mother is Natalia's father's sister, Luke as you first know him from the story is actually a clone, and Natalia was adopted from another family when the real princess died in infancy. Double subversion because the two of them are royalty, meaning it's practically mandated.
Kleptomaniac Hero: There is something amusing about having Luke steal 100 gald from his parents' room right at the start of the game.
Likewise, if you equip one for the first scene with Guy will have a few extra lines of dialogue (as will Tear when he cuts it). Guy's dialogue has more if you equip Luke's bathing suit costume, mentioning his attire. These don't work if you equip Dragon Buster? or Abyss Red, though.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Subverted in that Luke isn't really an amnesiac; he's actually a clone of the "real" Luke: Asch. The game makes it clear that clones are a complete blank slate; Guy recalls Luke having to learn to walk.
Law of Cartographical Elegance: A particularly egregious example, as part of the plot involves going to the North and South Poles... which are right next to one another when traveling on the Field, even though the cutscenes makes it clear that Aldurant is a globe.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When having the party run around in their bathing suits, some say that somebody must be forcing them to wear them.
Princess Natalia is the textbookexample, and to a lesser extent, so is Luke.
A bit of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as when either Natalia or Luke are actually used to make meals for the party, they're no more likely to fail at it than any other member of the party.
While Jade is a decent chef, according to skits he uses his cooking as "non-lethal" experiments on the group. It's usually mild things like putting in disliked ingredients or testing their tolerance for spiciness, but it probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to have him cook while you're in Mushroom Road.
You don't even need skits to know what Jade is like at times- look at what he adds to some of the food in the optional ingredient section, or read what he makes when it tells you; for instance, when asked the make pizza after he gets his first or second star on the recipe, he makes Potato Pizza, provided you have potatoes on hand, as they are his choice ingredient for this one.
Forced upon the party during the first trip to Absorption Gate. A platform collapses and separates the party into three pairs: Luke and Tear, Guy and Natalia, and Jade and Anise.
Happens twice more: first during the Timed Mission in the Meggiora Highlands, and again when the party attempts to warn the civilians and military as the Shurrey Hill area is about to fall. At least during these, you get to choose who goes in which party; the former has you choose between Guy and Jade, and the latter between Natalia and Jade (again).
Actually, you don't HAVE to pick between Guy and Jade- you can leave them with Tear and get three skits about being worried for Luke, and take Anise and Natalia if you want. You can still split the teams as you desire there. The latter, however, does force you to choose.
Let's You and Him Fight: Subverted in that, although Asch is working towards the same goal as the party, he hates Luke personally, and would gladly kill him if given the opportunity. To be fair, he has every reason to, thought it isn't the reason you think...
Literal Genie: Aside from his tendency to translate names out of Ancient Ispanian and say Light of the Sacred Flame when he just means Luke fon Fabre, for example, Lorelei is a well-intentioned example of this. The Score is a fairly straightforward list of historical occurrances in chronological order. For instance, the war will certainly bring prosperity to Kimlasca... until the plague kills them all. A pity that part was on the next fonstone. There are two times in the game where Lorelei saying something fairly straightforward is turned into a Cryptic Conversation because the listeners expect him to be crypic and mystical when all he's trying to do is tell them some piece of vital information in simple terms.
Loads and Loads of Loading: The load times after a battle on the world map are generally bad, but become far worse if you're in the Zao Desert. It's particularly bad in the Inista Marsh because the game treats the area as if you're still on the world map and not in an actual dungeon like any other area listed in the dungeon listing of your map. This issue was greatly improved in the 3DS version, in which load times got considerably shorter than in the PS2 version.
Locked Out of the Loop: Jade figures out early that Luke is a replica of Asch but doesn't tell him... it's not like its an important part of the Big Bad's plan or anything.
It's worse than that; everyone except Natalia is keeping some kind of secret from Luke and all the others when the game starts:
Guy has been conspiring with Van for years to kill Luke in front of his father as revenge for his own family's death at Duke Fabre's hands, although he is unaware of Van's other plans.
Anise is spying on them for Grand Maestro Mohs, reporting on all their actions, and is basically the reason the God-Generals always know where they are, because Mohs has her parents hostage so she can't disobey him.
Lost Technology: Used to make the Sephiroths, and the entirety of Yulia City. Modern-day residents of Yulia City have no idea how it even works or how to make more of it.
Anise, Arietta and Ion, despite the fact that none of them can spit it out. This game makes a kinda cruel variation: Arietta was in love with the original Ion, since it was him who protected her and taught her everything when she was separated from her monsters family. Anise, on the other hand, falls for the replica Ion, who is the only one she got to know. Of course, neither of the girls know about this.
In a skit, it is implied that, if Asch had not appeared, Luke, Tear and Natalia most probably would have ended up in the same situation.
Low-Level Advantage: If you're on a New Game Plus and you carried over your Capacity Cores, it's recommended to fight as few battles as possible until Ion gives Luke his first Capacity Core in the Cheagle Woods.
Largo is Natalia's true father. He didn't particularly care to tell his child about this, though...
Although technically, Luke has no father, Van could be considered his father because he created him. Jade could also be considered his father as he invented fomicry. Neither of them though, uttered the famous words, despite Anise attempts to invoke it with Jade.
Magic A Is Magic A: The game's physics are unusually consistent, affecting not just the overall plot but battle mechanics, cutscenes, and even character development arcs.
When Jade is fon slot sealed, his stats decrease because stats are measurements of various types of fonons and fonic power. In the same way Jade stores his spear, everyone uses fonons to enhance their abilities, growing better it with experience.
People aren't hit by friendly fonic artes because fonists can mark their allies' fon slots. The fact they can only protect a few people at a time not only justifies the entire party not participating in battle and why they can't be swapped out during the battle (the markings would need to be redone), but is actually mentioned in a cutscene, where Jade reminds Tear that she can't use an arte around that many unmarked civilians.
The scene where they discuss the nature of Lorelei and the nature of a fon sentience seems like it's just general background info and an excuse to poke fun at Luke's ignorance but a piece of information there is a Chekhov's Gun. The definition of a fonon sentience is a sentient pure clump of the fonon with the sentience's fonon frequency. And Luke is a replica, pure seventh fonon, with Lorelei's fonon frequency. Lorelei later states that Luke is another aspect of himself and this explains why replicas aren't included in the Score despite being seventh fonon: they're not under Lorelei's jurisdiction.
The entire Contamination Sidequest revolves around how Auldrant's laws of physics are as unforgiving as our own, when Jade has to come to terms with the fact that despite all his determination and genius it's simply not possible for him to save Luke any more than he can bring back Professor Nebilim.
Tear's best abilities are her fonic hymns, which require her to sing.
Musical symbology is rife in this game. In the Japanese translation, "fonic artes" (magic) is rendered as "tone magic". When Jade uses his "Mystic Cage" arte, he says (in English), "Oh admonishing melody, arise in the name of the Necromancer. Mystic Cage!" And all the titles in front of Order-of-Lorelei ranks (Ionian, Locrian, etc) are all music-theory terms. And let's not forget that the "fonons" manipulated by magic are basic particles of sound.
To say nothing of the fact that the world is governed by a Score and several of the levels have giant floating music staffs in the background.
The several of the teleport pads in the Absorption Gate look like treble clefs.
Most of the Capacity Cores and shops have music-term names (Marcato is a Core while Virtuoso is a shop in Baticul, for instance). Largo is also a tempo of music.
Man Child: Luke, because of his complete amnesia (complete—he had to relearn how to eat) seven years ago. He's basically seven years old. Can be seen as a Deconstruction, as his childish acts eventually piss everybody off before he gets his Character Development.
Here's a fun thought, Luke is technically seven years old with a mindset to match and only has the body of a seventeen year old, while Tear actually is sixteen years old. Tear knows Luke's real age and yet by the end of the game both of them love each other. Sorta weird on Luke's part, kinda creepy on Tears's part.
Not to mention Anise/Arrietta and the current Ion, who is * two.*
Might count as Gratuitous German, as "Asche" means the same and is only one letter away as well.
Also, Luke himself: the name actually does mean "Light".
Also, Sync is a clone; Largo is really big; "Vandesdelca" means "one who would seize glory"; Guy is afraid of women (gynophobic); and most of the God-Generals have musical names which ties in with the overall sonic theme of the setting.
Legretta is really quick. Legretta's name is actually an example of Spell My Name with an S. While not incorrect, a better translation would be Regret. Kinda makes sense. May also be a Woolseyism to maintain the God-General's musical theme naming.
Natalia is a double whammy. First off, Natalia means birthday, and that comes into play when Luke finds a locket with that date inscribed on it. It's Largo's prized possession, to commemorate the birth of his daughter Meryl, who is actually Natalia. Secondly, Meryl means shining sea. Natalia birth mother committed suicide by drowning in the Sea of Baticul when her newborn daughter was taken from her to replace the original Natalia, who was stillborn.
Lorelei. Interesting to give the fonon sentience of healing the name of a singer that lured people to their deaths. The Score is literally Lorelei's memory, meaning Lorelei has to die to destroy it, according to Van, and the only way to do that is to destroy Auldrant itself. The Score is described as a tempting drug that lures people...
Many of the important place names are taken from the Kabbalahnote Grand Chokhmah, St. Binah, Daath, Chesedonia, Hod, Keterburg, Malkuth, Qliphoth. Qliphoth, for instance, represents the evil spiritual forces, while Malkuth is the lowest of the sephirot, seperating them from the Qliphoth. Malkuth literally means "Kingdom".
Another interesting one is Keterburg, because it refers to God's will to create - Keterburg is where Jade played God and created the first replica.
A Mech by Any Other Name: The enormous "dolls" Anise rides and fights with during battle. Tokunaga being the nominal mech in question.
Mercy Mode: In the game's brief stealth section, you're supposed to have your party sneak through a forest, while avoiding soldiers and guard dog patrols. If you're caught, you return to the start of the area. However, if you get caught too many times, the game will let you brute force your way through, fighting the enemies and not bothering with stealth.
In the anime, all it took was one minor scratch to his chest to make the final boss of the Absorption Gate declare himself defeated, and throw himself over the edge to (presumably) his death while giggling like a maniac. Not the case in the game, however, as it takes quite the boss fight first to defeat him there.
Same goes for Sync. Once his mask is broken (if that can be called an injury) and his identity is revealed he goes on a spiel about Cloning Blues and promptly jumps into the abyss. Keep in mind, he was kicking everyone's collective ass up to that point.
There's also Natalia's real name; Meryl. It originally belonged to Meryl Adenade, who taught her daughter Mint everything she knew about healing.
In Tales of Symphonia, one of the after-battle conversations was "Our weapons are love!" "Justice! And-" "...Hope." In this game, one after-battle conversation is a decidedly less moral version of that:
Spoilers here for Tales of Symphonia. There's also the unbelievably creepy replica in the Daath cathedral, who, for some reason, takes a Mythology Gag and makes it Nightmare Fuel. This one line led to a lot of Epileptic Trees, especially since it relates to what is technically Symphonia's non-canon ending.
Never My Fault: Luke absolutely refuses to accept that Akzeriuth his fault in the immediate aftermath. His eventual admittance that it was his fault, and his desire to atone for it, are major points in his Character Development.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The party manages to solve many of the world's problems only to create new problems instead, the biggest example being when Luke sunk Akzeriuth. Most of these also result in other pseudo kabooms.
Not Quite Dead: Dist. Dist. Dist. He really is as "tenacious as a cockroach."
Oblivious to Love: Luke just never really seems to put the pieces together that Tear feels the same way.
Obvious Beta: Surprisingly, the initial release in Japan. Because it was rushed to come out at the end of 2005, it had an abnormal amount of cut content. Among them, Guy and Natalia's second mystic artes as well as cut-ins for the mystic artes used by the cameo team. (Yet ironically they still use them.)
Off Model: When Malkuth and Kimlasca go to war, there's a fairly lengthy cutscene showing the bloodshed. The problem? All of the soldiers are ridiculously off model, something that never occurs before or after that moment.
Older than They Look: Though all the characters are at seemingly young ages, it was stated in the game that a year on their planet is 765 days long, meaning that everyone is actually twice as old by our time. More than likely though, the humans of that planet age at a slower rate than we do, evening it out.
Physical God: Luke and Asch possess the power of Lorelei, a power that can destroy anything, teleport the user, control people's minds, heal, ressurrect the dead, control the future, etc. According to the game's physics and Lorelei himself, Luke is also a physical incarnation of Lorelei, making him the setting's real Crystal Dragon Jesus.
Luke is particularly guilty of this (even Jade says that he should have told them when it came to what happened at Akzeriuth).
Though this is used just as often against Luke to keep certain information from the player. This leads to several maddening instances in which the other characters berate him for not knowing anything while intentionally keeping him out of the loop.
Also, whether he understood it or not, Luke should have known better than to hold back any messages from Lorelei. They could have had a whole extra month to foil the Van's plans during the second half of the game, if he had told anyone in his party about the message he received about "The One Who Would Seize Glory." Though it's a mystery as to why Lorelei didn't just say Van or even Vandesdelca, since it is quite capable of using proper names...
Anise. True, Mohs had her up against the wall, but she kept the entire situation hidden from the group, and Ion ended up being killed as a result. They could have very likely saved both her parents and Ion, who she was supposed to be guarding in the first place.
Luke hides that he's dying which he wouldn't be if Asch hadn't done the same earlier, admitting he wanted to go to the Tower of Rem because he was dying anyway. Asch hiding that he was dying starts to kill Luke. Of course, it's then subverted by the Contamination Sidequests, since Asch would have survived and Luke died no matter what happened at the Tower.
Things would have gone differently very early on if Luke and Tear had specified what city they wanted a stagecoach ride to instead of asking for passage to "the capital" (since they didn't realize what country they were in).
Power Limiter: Jade has 2. The fon slot seal Largo used on him early-on in the game to even out his level with the other characters, and through an easy to miss sidequest, you learn that his glasses prevent the fonons gathered in his eyes from destroying himself and whatever happens to be nearby. The first one justifies his leveling up as him slowly breaking the seal by himself, which is described as breaking a lock whose combination is constantly changing while underwater wrapped in chains and weights. It's implied that he's actually grown stronger over the course of the story, as the skit where he finally breaks the seal doesn't appear until around level 50; Jade was level 45 when the seal was applied.
The Promise: Subverted and Deconstructed by Asch who pointedly states that he thinks making promises is meaningless. Unfortunately, he never keeps his promise to Luke at the end of the game.
The tune that's associated with Asch's death is even titled Promise.
The Psycho Rangers: Though they may just be Evil Counterparts, The God-Generals are all related to a member of the main party, and often use the same skills and abilities. Luke/Asch, Tear/Legretta, Anise/Arietta, Jade/Dist, Natalia/Largo, Guy and Ion/Sync.
Guy and Sync aren't counterparts, although the game spends a lot of time making one think that is going to be the case. He singles out Guy for his curse-slot, and Guy is the first one to see the face under the mask; his shocked reaction makes one think Guy knows him. Both turn out to be red herrings. Rather, Sync has more in line with Ion and Anise. His Akashic Torment attack is the same as Ion's Daathic Fonic Arte (seen in Luke's Radiant Howl extension), and a number of his hand-to-hand artes mirror Anise's moves, including Stone Dragon Ascent. Meanwhile, his role in-story has him mirror Ion and antagonize Anise.
Meanwhile, we find out that the actual counterpart to Guy is Van himself. Both are survivors of Hod who swore revenge, but Guy, having let go of his hatred, represents a rejection of everything Van wants to achieve.
Fortunately, quirky only in name. Every battle against the God-Generals is usually the toughest boss at that point in the game, and the last battles are usually tugging on some heart strings somewhere.
It was more for the bratty attitude than the aforementioned spoiler. It was mostly Jade and Anise who were the most vicious, and they backed off when it became apparent that Luke was making an effort to be a better person. Not to mention that he was carrying a HUGE amount of guilt.
Regional Bonus: The North American release included some extras the original Japanese version didn't have. The Nintendo 3DS version is based on the North American version as a result and is the first time Japanese players have access to them.
Only Nebilim fulfills the emotional aspect, though. While the Big Bad's ultimate plan might qualify, all the clones encountered during the game were created for far more pragmatic reasons than filling an emotional void.
Rescue Romance: General Frings and General Cecille's sidequest starts from this.
Rock Theme Naming: While a minor example, Jade and Nephry's names are derived from two minerals called 'jade': jadeite and nephrite. Also, Saphir is very likely taken from 'sapphire' and his last name Gneiss is a type of rock.
Royally Screwed Up: Kimlasca-Lanvaldear is riddled with incompetence. Malkuth, on the other hand, has many competent leaders, and it shows if you talk to the people of Grand Chokmah. They'll say things like, "Well, if Emporer Peony says so, then I'll believe him." People don't talk about King Ingobert like that, but they do like Natalia. In fact, every time they say something good about their country, it's something Natalia did, and she's not even the real princess. Duke Fabre and King Ingobert are both fairly incompetent for a large part of the story.
Rule of Symbolism: Just about everything in the game is named after elements of the Jewish Kabbalah and the Sephiroth (though not always translated correctly). And everything that isn't is probably Musical Theme Naming.
Rule of Three: Though you have six playable characters, three are nobles, the other three are military (insofar as a Fon Master Guardian can be considered military.) You also have three warriors and three spellcasters, three males and three females, and three groups of two in regards to origins (two Kimlascans, two Malkuthians, and two members of the Order of Lorelei). You even fight each member of the God Generals, including their leader, thrice (with the exception of Asch.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: What the Score ends up being. A lot. The most egregious example: it's implied by Lorelei in one of the final scenes that the success of Van's plan—one that was designed to avert the Score—would have been the "destruction of humanity" predicted in the original Score Of Destruction.
In the scene at Yulia's grave, Tear suspects that Eldrant is what Yulia planned all along and Van knew it from reading her journals. Without Van trying to create Eldrant, all of Auldrant would have collapsed into the miasma, it would just have taken a little longer. Eldrant would at least allow replicas to survive. That would make this an attempt at a Prophecy Twist by the maker of the prophecy. Luke reassures Tear by claiming that since Yulia was Lorelei's friend she wouldn't have done anything he didn't want, an argument that holds no water when Auldrant collapsing into miasma would have killed Lorelei anyway, so what Lorelei would have wanted was for something to live on, just as Luke soon demonstrates that he's perfectly willing to die for his friends to live on. This makes it something of an Either-Or Prophecy.
Every single one of the Anise-only accessories that change Tokunaga's appearance are a Shout-Out to something. Most are from the Tales Series, but some are from other series, such as KOS-MOS and Heihachi.
At least in the English version, one resident in St. Binah laments the fact that he "lost the election to Mc Govern."
The are are two games in the area with the Kowz and Ant Lion Men on Nam Cobanda Isle- Dragon Buster and (if you can read the Fonic Language) Zevious (there is no X in the fonic language). Xevious is the game where you hit all sorts of objects with Mieu Attack/Fire to get points.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: An epic example at the end of the game. During the final confrontation with the Big Bad, each member of the party gets a turn at proving the villain wrong. They basically prove to Van that his logic is flawed, twisted, and ultimatly hypocritical. He then concedes that they may be right, but he has gone too far down this path to turn back, then weapons are drawn and the cool music starts. They overpower him and he is forced to resort to his One-Winged Angel form. The fight is hard, but midway through, the heroes note that Van is losing control of his power while the party shows no sign of stopping (storywise at least). Finally, they push him past his limit and are able to remove the source of his power and defeat him. To sum up, they essentially pick apart his logic and reasoning (through words then violence) and reveal him for what he is: a man whose hate ultimately made him him into the thing he hated; a slave to the Score. You could say that the entire final battle is one large, epic Shut Up, Hannibal!.
Interestingly enough, Luke delivers the most prominate rebuttal just by simply being there and standing up to the Big Bad. He is also the one who pounds in the final nail by delivering the killing blow.
Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: The Kimlascan royal family is known for their red hair and green eyes. This becomes important to the plot twice. First, the Score identifies Luke by these traits. Second, the fact that Natalia is the only member of the royal family to not have these traits is used by Mohs as evidence that she is not the King's biological daughter.
Van has some of this as well, due to his his martial strength, and twisted conviction that he is doing the right thing. While he is not smug, he is somewhat arrogant. His defeat the first time at the hands of the party (particularly Luke) defiantly knocks him down a peg
Snow Means Love: During the first visit to Keterburg, the party stays at the inn and the girls talk about how romantic Keterburg is, with Ion included in the group, to further cement his status as a girl. Their options are rather limited because Luke is wondering around complaining about the cold (worring about his tummy frezing), Guy is scared of women, and Jade is, according to Ion, off walking the town with someone. (Presumably his sister, Nephry who previously thought he was dead.)
In fact, unlike the Tales' series normal Snow Means Love scene, Tales of the Abyss' takes place in a desert city.
Spoiler Opening: In the anime: Natalia joining the party, the fact that Van is a villain (implied by him showing up with other antagonists), Asch's face (he goes on as The Faceless for awhile in the show proper) and the fact that he and Luke have some kind of connection, and Luke's Important Haircut. And that's not even getting into the lyrics themselves...
The opening of the game is barely any better. Aside from showing that Natalia was a playable character, we see Luke switching between being short and longhaired.
The english manual is just as bad. It features Luke with short hair and depicted with the second Mystic Arte Lost Fon Drive shot. He's first introduced with long hair, but the Status Screen screenshots picture him with short hair and being called Luke Fone Fabre.
The japanese manual avoids all spoilers by having all the screenshots depicting Luke with long hair.
The anime also lovingly tells you exactly where certain God Generals are set to die.
Stalker with a Crush: Dist the Rose Runny Reaper spends an awful lot of his time trying to get Jade's attention.
Stealth-Based Mission: The forest outside of Grand Chokmah is a section of forced stealth. Thankfully, though, if you screw up enough, you can just choose to fight the guards.
Stupid Good: Anise's parents are a brutal example: their mindlessly obedient piety and compulsive charity lead them to give away money they don't have, putting them deeply into debt, and because they rely solely on The Score for support and never plan for the future, their fourteen-year-old daughter takes it upon herself to pull them out of debt by any means necessary.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dist pulls this by saying in his letter that the hoverdrive was certainly not in Daath by any means. Most certainly not Daath.
Sword Beam: Luke's second Mystic Arte, Lost Fon Drive, involves Luke slashing the enemy about eight or nine times and then firing a massive beam of fonons at the enemy.
Take a Third Option: The Score describes all Auldrant dissolving into miasma. There are various hints that Eldrant was Yulia's plan to allow a new world to live on instead of everyone dying. Auldrant will either be replaced by Eldrant or a big ball of miasma. Lorelei tells Luke that he never imagined Luke could find a way to prevent Auldrant's death.
Talking Is a Free Action: Typical boss fights have a lot of banter that goes on even while the characters are hitting each other.
Talking to Himself: Replicas = same voice actor, thus highly justified. There's also an in-game example, when Lorelei possesses Tear to speak to Luke. As he says in the scene, they are the same person or at least the same fonon sentience.
Team Pet: Mieu, though Luke is the one that technically "owns" him.
Team Switzerland: The Church of Lorelei would not at all benefit from a war started between Kimlasca and Malkuth. Even though there are factions within this Team Switzerland.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Nebilim's Fragmented End on higher difficulties. On Unknown, this Mystic Arte can hit for over 100,000 damage. The HP cap for each member of your party is only 9,999.
Naturally, Dist survives taking one of these in the face.
Nebilim also has Mystic Cage, Indignation and Big Bang, all of which usually deal well over 40,000 damage on Unknown, though these can't kill when used in you (but they do leave your whole party knocked down with 150 HP open for attacks).
Three Act Structure: Not as blatantly as its successor, but it's definitly there. Act 1 goes from the beginning to either Akzeriuth or when Luke cuts his hair, Act 2 goes from there to the Absorbtion Gate, and Act 3 begins after the Time Skip and runs to the end. Each act is marked with a change to the battle and world map music.
Title Drop: The bonus dungeon, Fomicry Research Facility The Abyss.
Too Dumb to Live: Asch, who insists on not working with the party. Not only is pretty clear he could never take Van, but even when look at his stats as a boss, the other God-Generals are stronger then he is.
Well, while not taking advantage of the ridiculous amount of resources and skills that could be gained by joining a party made up of some of the highest ranking and most badass officials of the three global powers is pretty damn stupid, he did manage to clear a hard dungeon by himself while still injured from his battle against Van and thus save the day at the end of the Disc One Final Dungeon. Though a lot of the second half of the game could possibly have been cut out if he was able to just sit down and talk with Luke's party for a few hours. Probably an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation as by that point Luke should be around Jade's unsealed level in terms of combat skills according to one skit, and Jade was able to more or less oneshot Largo and easily hold Arietta hostage at the start of the game. Having a one-on-one battle against a Sync level boss would probably be a lot more annoying than entertaining when you don't have the rest of your party to whittle away at him and use healing magic. Besides, going by the damage he was causing in the game's opening, the fact that he was the protege of the most skilled fighter in the world, and has full control over his hyperresonance, then plotwise he's probably one of, if not THE strongest God-Generals. Though there's no excuse for him not learning at least some healing artes in the past seven years.
He was going to die anyway due to fonon separation, which was by no means his fault.
The people of Akzeriuth. When their mining exposes and results in their town filling with poisonous miasma, they decide just stand around and to continue digging instead of simply getting as far from the town and thus the miasma as they can. What's worse, even when the protagonists show up and they reveal that a path out has been cleared, they still do this. The result? Luke and Van sink the town and the area around it into the miasma and everybody dies.
Ok this one is totally justified and explained in-universe, in that the Score predicted it, so the Order of Lorelei was there to make sure that those who were supposed to be there on that day were, and kept them there. Furthermore, they were trapped; it's stated that Deo Pass is unpleasant territory due to monsters and the threat of rockfalls, as well as being in disrepair, and that miasma was keeping them locked in anyway. They were essentially trapped on an island surrounded by shark-infested waters without a boat.
Trademark Favourite Food: Everyone has something they favour to add in the 'extra ingredients' part of the recipes, although Jade specifically has curry itself. Guy seems fond of fish, adding it to nearly everything he can, such as spaghetti, sandwiches, pizza, and curry. He also uses fish instead of chicken for the fried chicken recipe, and is the one who specifically uses 'seafood' in rice balls. Natalia adds cheese to many dishes as her personal touch. Anise likes beef, adding it to her meat dishes. Jade seems to have some affinity for potatoes and tofu, Luke seems to favour chicken above the other meats, as well as shrimp.
Truth in Television: When Tear confronts Luke about how his fonons are separating, Luke admits that he didn't want anyone to know because he thought that everyone would treat him differently. If you think about it...this is like people with terminal illnesses.
Uncanny Valley: A rare example of when this is invoked and more worked into the story. When the mass replicas show up, people are scared, freaked out, or otherwise disturbed because Anyone would be too if say, you were at your loved one's funeral and suddenly someone who looks and sounds exactly like them shows up speaking in a Creepy Monotone and without basic social skills and is clearly not them. While this isn't exactly a player reaction to it due to the game's heavily stylized graphics, it still fits the purpose of the Uncanny Valley because the replicas look just like their dead loved ones.
Uncle Pennybags: Astor is the leader of the Chesedonia Merchant's Guild, and is very likely the richest non-noble (if not person overall) in Auldrant. He's also one of the nicest characters in the game, if a littleweird.
Underground Monkey: One of the worst offender, you will fight tons and tons of pallete swap bats, wolves, plants...
The NTSC-UC version of the game is this to the original JP version. During the conversion, the developers polished the whole game and added in several new features, including secret Mystic Artes for all the main characters.
The Nintendo 3DS version varies on how updated it is depending on region. In the Americas, it's pretty much the same game with modified graphics. For Europeans, Australians, or New Zealanders who imported the North American version due to having English as their main language or, in Europe's case outside the British Isles, having studied it as a second language, it would be the same case, though non-importers get to place it for the first time. The updates are a different experience to the Japanese than people from the United States and Canada — the above was such a step up that the upcoming 3DS version is a localisation of the American version.
Now the first game in the series to make the other leap into 3D
Waif Prophet: Ion often collapses whenever he uses his power.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Half the villains in the game. Van in particular: he is attempting to destroy the Score because he knows that it predicts the complete destruction of humanity, and since the people of Auldrant take the Score's word as law....
Wham Episode: Several in the game, among them Luke's failed rescue attempt in Akzeriuth leading to it's destruction, finding out that Van had planned said failed attempt by manipulating Luke the entire time, Luke finding out he's nothing more than a replica that was supposed to be the scapegoat that had outlived it's usefulness once Akzeriuth was destroyed.
Tied together with Player Punch, there's also the helpful citizens of Sheridan and old folks that had given you the Albiore II being slaughtered. And that little boy who was floating on debris in the Qlipoth after Akzeriuth's destruction, stuck underneath his father's corpse and drowns in the miasma because your group can't rescue him in time. This game's point is to make you feel bad.
What Happened To Tear's Pendant?: In the first episode of the anime, Tear offers her pendant as payment for boarding a stagecoach. She does it with a very sad look on her face, stating that it was a very precious possession to her, but the pendant never appears nor is mentioned again in the anime. In the game, however we learn that it was a memento from her late mother, and there's a complete side quest in which Luke recovers it for her.
Wing Dinglish: The Fonic Language. Weirdly, at least once it's in Spanish rather than English ('El Cilion', which is odd because Elion is the owner of the shop. Possibly makes him an example of Known Only by Their Nickname). You can actually download the Fonic language as a font.
With Friends Like These...: Let's recap the truthworthiness of the party from the perspective of Luke by the time they reach Akzeriuth: a strange woman who tried to kill his beloved teacher and won't tell him why while openly working for and defending the honor of a guy who seems to have Big Bad written all over him, a smartass who constantly insults him, his best friend who trusts Van explictedly but originally just wanted to get revenge on Luke's family, a spacy kid, a creepy gold digger, a disliked childhood friend who literally blackmails her way into the party... That's not to mention that Guy was completely unaware that his best friend growing up was being used for horrific experiments and so much more.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: After a fonic glyph is used to grant Mohs the ability to control the seventh fonon despite not being a seventh fonist, things don't turn out quite right and he completely loses his mind.
Worthy Opponent: Largo says that Luke is his before the final battle against him.
Wutai: Despite its architecture bearing more occidental features, few Japanese type weapons, like the Katana and the Hamayumi, are said to have been made exclusively on the fallen island nation of Hod. Guy's Sigmund Style of swordsmanship also somewhat exemplifies this as well, as his style appears to prefer backswords and agility like samurai.
Believed by most of the world. Although it emerges that it's possible to Screw Destiny, this later changes when it is revealed that everything is guided by the planet's memory. But by the end, they manage to Screw Destiny anyway. Another noteworthy example is that the Score said Fon Master Ion was supposed to die, and the original thought that creating copies would defy the Score. He was wrong.
On the other hand, Van unintentionally subverted this by creating Luke, who was supposed to take the original's place in dying at Akzeriuth. Both the original and the clone survived the incident, in contradiction to the Score. The party later points this out to Van in an attempt to convince him that the Score can be defeated, Van merely passed it off as an insignificant detail.
And then we have the Tower of Rem. The place was originally a mining city like Akzeriuth, and Asch planned to sacrifice himself there, while Luke was trying to take his place. Both survived again. Partially, at least.
Youngest Child Wins: Tear makes Van vulnerable to the killing blow using a lullaby he taught her as a child.
Luke vs. Asch.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The part just before the Absorption Gate dungeon has "Ending" written all over it, you apparently kill the God-Generals, the Absorption Gate itself seems like The Very Definitely Final Dungeon... And then, when you're watching the supposedly final cutscene, you see a completely new area of the dungeon, with a treasure chest in it, just to make it clear that you're going to be able to go there. There's actually a bit of Foreshadowing if you look carefully - if you bring up the map in the Qlipoth, there's this area in a corner of the map that appears to have not sank into it. When you go there, you find that it's got a landmark that you can't enter yet. Even more apparent in the 3DS version, since the the map can be perpetually open on the bottom screen.