Tales of Graces is the twelfth mothership game in the Tales Series, and was released in Japan for the Wii on December 10, 2009.The fantasy world of Ephinea is driven by a magical power called Eleth, which can be crystallised and stored in a substance called Cryas. The largest of these Cryas are called Valkines, around which three great nations have been established: the arctic stratocracy of Fendel, the desert republic of Strahta, and the blossoming kingdom of Windor. For generations, the three countries have struggled over the limited supply of Cryas in the world, with their prosperity directly tied to the amount of Eleth they control.Asbel Lhant is the eldest son of the Lhant family, a prestigious feudal line who control the "Lhant" region of Windol. He used to be a normal kid who spent his days playing around and going on reckless adventures with his friends; that was, until the day one of his friends committed a Heroic Sacrifice to save his life. This tragedy awoke within Asbel the desire to gain enough power to protect everyone around him, including all of the citizens in his future protectorate.With this goal in mind he leaves home, joining the military and training to become a dedicated and respected knight. However, on the cusp of graduation he receives some devastating news: his father, Lord Aston, has died. Giving up on his dream and quitting the military, Asbel returns home after seven years to take his father's place as the ruler of Lhant. However, he finds not only a heavier burden of responsibility than he ever imagined, but that the past friendships he held so dear have shattered in his absence.Though the game was scored highly by critical publications, Graces was criticised by some for having a number of bugs, some of which made it impossible to continue playing the game. As the Wii does not allow easy patching, Namco Bandai announced a recall and free disc swap (via mail) to anyone who had already bought the game.An Updated Re-release for the PS3 called Tales of Graces was released in December 2010 (later released in America in March 2012 and in Europe in August). The game includes the usual array of upgrades like new skits, scenes, abilities and Mystic Artes. By far the biggest addition is an epilogue story called "Lineage and Legacies", which adds Richard as a fully-playable character. The party also gains an Overlimit-like ability called "Accelerate Mode," which grants unique powers to each character and gives them access to a powerful Finishing Move. Definitely worth grabbing a few siblings or friends to do multiplayer with.
This game provided examples of:
Abandoned Laboratory: Humanoid Research Laboratory, and Eleth Research Laboratory in the Lineage and Legacies arc.
Adult Fear: Lady Kerri (Hubert and Asbel's mom). Let's see: Your kids love you but are either afraid (Hubert) or slightly resentful (Asbel) of your husband. Your husband isn't helping matters any due to him generally being emotionally constipated mixed with a short temper triggered by Asbel almost daily, so in short she's the Only Sane Man. One day, you have to then ship of one of your children to another country and explain it to his older brother but before you can said oldest runs of somewhere. You then get news that both of your sons were almost killed but can only see one of them since the other has already been sent away. Your child then decides to run away from home and disappears for 7 years. Your husband then dies causing your sons to come back home. Only when they get back, they are at each others throats, the youngest son hates you and the oldest is exiled from the village. It's really surprising she didn't go into an Angst Coma.
Aerith and Bob: There are Richard, Kurt and Hubert, then there are Maliknote Arabic, but not implausible, Pascalnote French and Sophienote which may be slightly Aerith-y, as it's short for 'Sopheria', and then there are Asbel and Cheria.
After the End: The world of Fodra has been desolate for at least 1000 years at the time of the game.
Allergic to Love: Invoked by the "Guyabulous" quality. In Graces , any character wearing a piece of equipment with this quality who takes a hit from a female enemy is instantly petrified. This is a step up from the original version, where such an attack was an instant kill.
Argument of Contradictions: Pascal and Hubert have one when he tells her that just because her sister's mad at her doesn't mean that she's to blame, and she thinks that he's consoling her, but he insists that he's not. The skit is titled "Am Not, Are Too."
Artificial Stupidity: While your AI allies are normally good at keeping their distance while casting healing artes, sometimes they will start trying to heal someone while they're within melee range of enemies. Another problem is that they'll try to heal allies with only superficial damage when you have a character on screen that's KOed and really should be revived.
As You Know: Invokes the trope name in the Eleth Mixer tutorial.
Babies Ever After: Asbel and Cheria's, specifically. Sophie, who is an existence that will outlive all of her friends, tells Cheria that she doesn't mind this and her dream is to live and enjoy life alongside Asbel and Cheria's descendants for posterity.
Back from the Dead: It seems that Sophie does this at the beginning of the adult arc. In reality, she just distributed her particles to Asbel, Cheria and Hubert, and then reassembled herself later. It's also implied that Hubert and Cheria were either dead or very nearly dead after Lambda's attack, and that Sophie's particle dispersion brought them both back from the brink of death.
Background Music Override: In some battles, the battle theme will continue to play even at the victory screen. In other important battles, instead of the victory fanfare at the victory screen, the music will simply go silent.
Baleful Polymorph: In Graces , there's an NPC who gives Titles away that allow any playable character to transform into any of the other six, allowing for teams of four Sophies, Cherias, etc., provided you have created the Figures for each character (six of each doll so every character can get the title.) This is the main way of playing as Richard outside Lineage and Legacies. Apparently the developers thought of that too, and give you one of his doll for free in said arc's final dungeon.
Beach Episode: The Beach Resort town, available only by entering coordinates in the shuttle.
Beef Gate: The Uncharted Sandstretch. It's right nearby Oul Raye and the game does give you some warnings, but only if you talk to other characters, and they could be a lot stronger. Basically, going into a battle here when it first becomes available is a guaranteed Game Over. Even at around Level 60 in a New Game Plus, if playing on Chaos Mode, you will lose, though playing around Moderate difficulty can be good to do some level-grinding.
Bloodless Carnage: Richard's Berserk Button gets pushed early in the game by a Mook, and he proceeds to throw him on the table and slash him about nineteen times or so. He then calmly walks away leaving the poor guy on the table... with no sign of injury. After Richard is fatally wounded, Pascal comments about how much (non-existent) blood there was from the wound.
Body Surf: Lambda survived multiple attempts by Protos Heis to kill him by jumping to new human hosts.
The Rockgagong, which takes up half the screen, comes with a twenty-minute time limit, disables Mystic Artes and is so tough most players use a cheap One-Hit Kill method.
Graces adds more bonus bosses such as Poisson and a buffed Solomus.
Brick Joke: If Malik uses Eternal Serenade to finish off Lambda, he will say that it will be the last time he uses it. Use it again in Graces 's Lineage and Legacies, and Sophie will call him out on it.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the Magic Carta minigame, the computer's cursor can suddenly move with near-instant speed and perfect accuracy, whereas you are limited by a much slower cursor. The difficulty levels merely change how long it takes before the CPU player 'decides' on his card; on the 'Hard' difficulty, the computer's reflexes are raised to inhuman levels and success becomes a Luck-Based Mission.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: Remarkable in that the entire plot and back story of the game could have been avoided only if Emeraude wasn't a giant bitch to Lambda.
The whole deal with Asbel and Hubert trying to kill one another over the leadership of Lhant was pretty much entirely precipitated by Aston being a huge Jerk Ass to his sons. Added Irony, in that most of his actions were well-intentioned as he was trying to prevent that exact thing from happening.
Mentioned when Sophie sees nothing wrong about sacrificing herself to stop Lambda. Asbel stops her by explaining this trope and insisting on another option. This thinking becomes part of Sophie's character arc in Lineage and Legacies.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In the Zhonecage, one boss explains that "death has no hold" there, as in total defeat doesn't result in a Game Over. Instead, you just lose the item you gambled in exchange for entering the floor. Later floors require items with a value of up to 200,000 Gald. This trope is also invoked in boss battles (albeit mandatory ones), since the Game Over screen allows you to just retry (with access to the menu to adjust party setup, among other things) without losing progress.
By using New Game+ and the Baleful Polymorph titles, you can use Artes and characters you shouldn't have at certain points of the game. Two characters are given new quotes for their Mystic Artes if used before Lineage and Legacies, as certain events have not yet transpired: Asbel for his Level 4 Mystic Arte, where he summons Lambda, and Richard's latter three Mystic Artes, as his original quotes reference him being a king.
If Malik uses his Level 3 Mystic Arte to finish off Lambda, he claims that it will be the last time he uses it. Of course, he can still use it in Lineage and Legacies, at which point Sophie calls him out on it (and he responds with a stone-faced Blatant Lie).
There is a sidequest in Yu Liberte where a wealthy couple mistake Sophie as their missing daughter. If you trigger this sidequest before you go to Fodra (or even learning of its existence), Asbel will be overjoyed at the prospect of finally finding Sophie's family and learning about her Mysterious Past. If you trigger this sidequest after your journey to Fodra, where you learn The Reveal that Sophie is actually an alien robot, Asbel has the opposite reaction and tries to convince the couple that they're mistaken. The post-quest cutscene is also played out differently.
Difficulty Spike: The Ghardia Shaft is absurdly difficult compared to what came before, especially playing on higher difficulty levels. You go from "confident and decisive victories" in the area immediately prior to "wiped within fifteen seconds by the very first random encounter."
Dynamic Loading: The game loads battles before you actually get into them, so the transition between the overworld/dungeon and a battle is usually less than half a second. This is most noticeable when enemies respawn when using a Dark Bottle. Though the enemies respawn on the map almost instantly, you can't actually fight them until they're completely filled in.
Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing through the game on Easy lets you progress through the story as normal, but you won't earn any bonus experience for your levels or your titles. There's also no trophy for completing the game on Easy.
Eek, a Mouse!!: Cheria is freaked out when Sophie finds a mouse in Mecha-Asbel.
His younger brother Hubert is voiced by Takahiro Mizushima, who also voiced Rolo Lamperogue from the same anime. And like Rolo, Hubert also has a complex for his older brother.
The parallels don't stop there. Richard is very flamboyant, has heterochromia, is a prince and has a friendship with Asbel with some homoerotic elements, making him the Lelouch to Asbel's Suzaku. It seems Namco sees the resemblance, and gave us all DLC costumes for it: Asbel as Suzaku, Richard as Zero, Cheria as Kallen, and Sophie as C.C.
Fantastic Flora: The Sopheria flower, which Sophie is named after. When it blooms, its seeds glow a bright pink and rise into the air spontaneously.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Fendel is a pretty obvious analogy for Soviet Russia. It's got constant snow, a dearth of natural resources and widespread poverty, and what looks like a sort of steampunk-industrialized capital. There's also at least one active revolutionary group. The Chancellor even appears to wear one of those stereotypical furry hats.
When you first see Richard in the adult arc, notice several instances of heterochromia. You can also spot instances where Lambda takes control or drives him over the edge, especially during his infamous slashing rampage - his eye is glowing.
During one of the last skits of the childhood arc, Hubert mentions that he won't always be around to correct Asbel. What happens later? He's sent off to Strahta.
If you go to the second floor of the inn in Gralesyde, you'll find a map. Look at it with Malik, and he'll note that none of Fendel's towns are on it.
Just before you fly back to Ephinea for the final battle against Richard and Emeraude, talk to the humanoid on the far left in the docking bay. one of the things it says is "Emer....Cornell.....rking together...."
Funny Background Event: The party just finished searching around Bathus Citadel, only to realize that they can't find the material they need. They have a serious discussion about what to do next and — hey, whats Pascal doing running around in the background?
Game-Breaking Bug: The original version basically implodes on itself on repeat playthroughs. As a result, it was recalled.
Gameplay and Story Integration: Richard's win quotes can be really creepy and bloodthirsty, but only after he's been in the party for a while in the adult arc. It's because Lambda is gradually exerting more influence on him. Richard sounds pretty sane until Wallbridge - usually his win quotes change around his infamous slashing scene.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: If when playing the Tales of Graces f port, you give a gem to Marian to polish, beat the game, and then start Lineage and Legacies, she'll still be polishing it six months later.
The end-battle quotes tend to be set with the sole requirement of you having the right combination of characters, not caring where you are in the story. Causing characters to act differently towards each other than they do in the plot, or in some instances, knowing things they shouldn't. Pascal for example, can acknowledge that Richard is royalty before getting to the point in the story she would find out (where she seems genuinely surprised).
Guide Dang It: Try finding some of those titles/sidequests without a guide.
To get Sophie's Lv.3 Mystic Arte, you have to give a bunch of plushies to an Ill Girl in Fendel. However, you have to Dualize three of them using "Cashable" ingredients, items that the game explicitly tells you that you can sell for a nice sum.
Good luck finding all the skits; many of them are in places one would never think to go back to, or in random locations you would otherwise never visit again once you get halfway through the final dungeon. Still others are only available by entering an area and then returning to an area that you were just at.
Did you forget to sleep at an inn? Yes? Too bad!
Hates Baths: Fourier thinks this is true of Pascal, but Pascal claims that it's just that A.) She gets caught up in her work and B.) There never seems to be enough hot water around when she needs it. She later claims though that she fantasizes about stopping time, because she could stop time then she would never get any dirtier and she would never have to take a bath.
Heir Club for Men: The Lhant lordship, which leaves Lhant in a tough spot when Aston dies and Asbel is absent.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Everyone you know is using guns, gun-sticks, sword-gun-sticks, gloves, glove-guns, magic, magic swords, boomerang swords... but you just have to be the purist, don't you, Asbel?
Idea Bulb: Pascal gets one in Lineage and Legacies in the Eleth Research Laboratory following the boss fight when the party realizes something is wrong with Fodra's core and she's asked if she has any ideas.
Ill Girl: Cheria starts off as this but she rapidly recovers at the same time she receives her healing powers. You can also run across one in Fendel and you are rewarded by giving her plushies to keep her company.
Improbable Weapon User: Malik, who use a boomerang-sword; Pascal, who uses a rifle-pole hybrid; Hubert, who uses a twin-blade which can separate into a pair of handguns.
I Want Grandkids: Kerri to Asbel in Lineage and Legacies, accompanied by various marriage prospects. Justified, in order to continue the Lhant bloodline.
Jerk Ass: Asbel's father Aston is an massive dick to him pretty much every time they're ever on screen together, though considering he dies early on, that's not long. He also has a dose of Smug Snake and Professional Butt-Kisser thrown in.
Kleptomaniac Hero: At one point, you pass through a very poor town in Fendel. The houses are in terrible shape and you see two children (one of whom is sick) picking up cryas shards outside in the cold. The party feels bad for them and Sophie gives them some cryas shards. Then you can rummage through their cupboards and steal their food.
If you take off Malik's armour, the captain will ask Asbel why he did it at the end of the fight. Asbel swears it wasn't his own decision, but can't explain it.
Pascal wonders why there are always enemies around, and she suggests they wouldn't keep coming if someone wasn't profitting from them.
Legendary Weapon: The game has the sword of Asbel's father, Aston, which was a legendary eleth sword. When Asbel was in training as a knight, he sold the old, rusted sword for cheap to a traveling merchant called a "Turtlez" (one of many in the game), not realizing its history or potential. Much later in the game, the player can buy it back for hefty premium and take it to the Amarcian Enclave and it turns out to be the extremely powerful Excalibur.
Limit Break: Called "Blast Caliber" in Japanese, and the standard "Mystic Arte" in English.
Male Gaze: During one subevent in Lineage and Legacies, Malik and Victoria end up in their swimsuits. Victoria's suit is a very skimpy bikini, and the camera spends quite a bit of time focused on it.
Mark of the Supernatural: See Foreshadowing. Those with Lambda inside their body will have heterochromia. It's pretty obvious with Asbel in the Lineage to the Future arc, but during Richard, you have to look rather closely.
Maybe Ever After: Hubert and Pascal. He manages to confess to her, but she doesn't get it. Their final conversation, however, has her calling him Hu instead of Little Bro like she used to.
A Minor Kidroduction: The first couple hours focuses on the cast as kids, before the Time Skip to the main part of the story. It is shown in one brief scene in the opening demo. New Game+ gives you the option to skip it.
Mood Whiplash: The entire game — and the prologue alone is a good start — is littered with moments of severe solemnity immediately followed with some silliness. One notable example is towards the end of the game where you're trying to retrieve something to save a failing humanoid whose only wish is to continue living. You're too late and she dies. Then when you try to exit, you're greeted with a skit where Pascal has Sophie use her photonic powers to snap Cheria's bra strap. Yeah, it's that game.
In Strahta, one NPC talks about monsters, and mentions a "Quickie". Pascal even says that one of those things would come in handy while using Artes. In Tales of Eternia, Meredy's "weapons" are whistles, which are used to control Quickie, and later on Quickie can attack while she's casting.
Outside the Knight Academy in Barona, there's a rather epic statue of the Academy's founder. It appears to be Kratos Aurion.
One item found in the main quest bears the description: "made of fomicry."
In Gralesyde, if you bring an old woman sitting on a bench some beef and pork, she'll make you minced meat "filled with love." You can then dualize this meat with potatoes to make croquettes. Eat them with care, okay?
It's probably a coincidence, but whenever Pascal falls unconscious in battle, she says "the rest is...up to you!" with the exact same inflections that Asch uses during his death scene in Tales of the Abyss.
Aston had hoped to avoid a messy battle for succession between his sons by allowing the Oswells to adopt Hubert, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Asbel was quite content to let the more bookish and organized Hubert have the job while he went off to become a knight. Things don't quite go to plan - Asbel is infuriated by his father's actions and immediately leaves home for knight school, while Hubert is so hurt by the abandonment that he becomes a hypercompetitive soldier unwilling to settle for second place and eventually leads the military expedition to capture his old hometown. So, just to recap, not only did Aston's plan fail, it actually caused the very thing it was supposed to prevent.
Precursors: The Amarcians. Subverted when it is revealed that not only is Pascal an Amarcian, but her people actually not only live in secret (Sorta) on the continent of Fendel, but help the people of Fendel. Subverted again since Pascal was actually searching for the Ancient Amarcians. The current Amarcians were not originally from Fendel, but emigrated over generations ago, leaving behind their old structures and technology which became lost to the ages. Subverted again when it is finally revealed that the Ancient Amarcians were originally refugees from the world of Fodra, and it was just a name for a particular research group, rather than a actual race/civilization.
Prolonged Prologue: Nothing that could reasonably be called the main plot starts until roughly the end of chapter 2 and start of chapter 3 — Chapter 1 is more obviously a prologue, being a fairly lengthy sequence featuring several of the main characters as children, but even the bulk of chapter 2 is devoted to setting the scene again after the Time Skip. Most of what you earn in the prologue doesn't carry over to the main story, either. Thankfully, repeat playthroughs give you the option of skipping the prologue entirely for a measly 10 GRADE.
Running Gag: As usual, there's a number of running gags through the victory scenes. The most notable is Asbel attempting to lead a cheer of "We are... awesome!", only to have it ruined every single time.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The entire world of Ephinea is actually one big seal for Lambda in hopes of preventing him from escaping and finding another world. Subverted when its revealed that Lambda actually sealed himself away, wanting to be left alone. Played true when Lambda contracted Richard and slowly gain controlled of more and more of his psyche.
Shipper on Deck: A lot of characters of Asbel/Cheria. Which makes it all the more annoying when you consider...
Shout-Out: An entire page of these both to earlier Tales games and other Namco Bandai works could be dedicated to these, but for now:
Asbel references Goemon Ishikawa XIII from Lupin III in one of his victory quotes. ("Once again, I have cut a worthless object.")
One of the skits featuring the Mask of Barona is called "The Mask of Barona Rises". For extra points, it's the third one in the series.
One of Sophie's weapons, a pair of claws, has the description, "They weren't stolen, mind you! They were... acquired." This may be a reference to Prince of Persia (2008), wherein the Prince more or less says the same thing about his clawed gauntlet.
Veigue fights you with Siegfried's Requiem and the Requiem he wants you to find turns out to be Siegfried's alternate outfit Requiem.
There's a sidequest involving a dying humanoid on Fodra. When it dies, it says it will vanish like tears in the rain.
Stuck Items: Most equipment can be left bare, but every character must have a weapon equipped.
Super Team: The Terma Ten are trying really hard to personificate this trope, but then you find out WHO makes up the team. Frederic (Cheria's grandpa), Cedric 2.0, Emeraude 2.0, Dark Turtlez, Peepit?, Amber Hearts, Fourier, Reala, Gentle Eel, and Solomos himself.
Teleport Spam: A number of opponents do this, making it very difficult to do certain things, such as building up combos.
This Cannot Be!: Richard declares "This can't be." after his defeat at the Ghardia Shaft. In fact, let's just say that the people who made this game are apparently fond of this line, as a number of the bosses in the game use it, or some form of it.
Those Two Guys: In Lineage and Legacies, Malik and Richard have taken on a highly conspiratorial bent with each other (at least in the skits).
Timed Mission: The Rockgagong battle is this. You have 20 minutes to beat him or else you instantly die.
There's a Time Skip of seven years after the prologue.
Also, a six-month Time Skip in F for Lineage and Legacies.
Trademark Favorite Food: Most characters have one and can earn a title related to it, but Sophie's love of crab omelets and Richard's love of natto deserve special mention.
Trailers Always Spoil: The TGS Trailer has spoiled that Cornell was killed and betrayed by his own and not to mention even some part of the ending scene.
Trope 2000: The devices in the Zhonecage that generate random effects are named in this style, as Random Effect Generator 3000.
True Companions: The party becomes this and is pretty much one big family by the time Asbel adopts Sophie. Asbel and Cheria are the parents, Sophie's the daughter, Hubert's the uncle, Pascal and Richard are the big sister and big brother and Malik is the grandpa. Hilarity Ensues in the skits about this.
The Fodra Queen becomes this, making Lambda a Climax Boss.
Also, as mentioned above, defeating Solomos gives Lambda Angelus a power boost and renames him to Lambda Theos.
Try to Fit That on a Business Card: In one of the messed-up "We are..." victory skits, Hubert, Malik, and Richard each declare their full names and titles at the same time, ticking off Asbel.
Unmanly Secret: A Fetch Quest for one of the Inn Requests involves a "Young Man" who wants an item called the Feather Badge, but says he's embarrassed even saying the name and when you turn in the request, he says to be quiet about it, and that no one must know.
In terms of friendship (ormore), Pascal and Cheria or Poisson fit this.
Vocal Dissonance: Despite this being a game that spares no effort to clobber you over the head with the fact that Asbel is a lord with noble blood who is aristocratic, Asbel's voice actors make no audible effort to sound like it... in either language.
If you want to perform Blue Earth, you have to hold the buttons to get the Maxwell extension artes. Problem? They're done on you, and they all total so much damage if you screw up, you'll have a game over by Aquarius Sphere, the second one. To be fair, this is an easter-egg.
Pascal sounds like this on paper. All of her spells are centred on herself, which means her spells (with casting times!) are all melee attacks, while her standard attacks are ranged. The game even lampshades this in a tutorial.
We Can Rule Together: If you revisit the Oswell Manor in Yu Liberte after viewing the scene at the Fendel Port, then the party discovers Mr. Oswell and some soldiers plotting sedition against the president. The party swiftly takes out the soldiers and afterwards, Mr. Oswell makes this offer to Hubert, but Hubert wants no part of it.
Welcome to Corneria: There's a shopkeeper at the Beach Resort who doesn't actually offer the services of a shop and says nothing but "Welcome to the Beach Resort!"
Who Wants to Live Forever?: The major theme of Lineage and Legacies in f. Sophie is an immortal (of the ageless variety), and worries about what will happen when everyone else dies and she keeps on living. She eventually comes to terms with it after swearing to continue Asbel's dream of preserving Lhant, helping Asbel's children, grandchildren, and so on.