Reviews: Tales Of Graces

Tales of Graces f: Decent But Kind of Disappointing

I am no stranger to the Tales series. Ever since I finished Tales of Vesperia last summer, I have been getting my hands on whatever Tales game I could find and playing the hell out of it. I've enjoyed the games I have played(being Vesperia, Symphonia, Xillia and even Dawn of The New World) and I decided I wanted to try Graces out. I heard some pretty great things about it and I wanted to play it to see if it was as good as people claimed. Well, in my opinion, Tales of Graces f is a decent but flawed game that comes off as kind of disappointing compared to the other games I played.

I'll start off with the flaws. I feel like Graces probably has the weakest story compared to the other games. I didn't feel as interested as I was in the other games. The story is a little cliché for my tastes and it feels like your standard JRPG story. The power of friendship is a theme that can be found in JRP Gs but I feel as if Graces kind of shoves in your face a little too much to the point where it becomes a little annoying. Seriously, the way this game does it makes the other Tales games I've played look subtle by comparison. Also, the pacing isn't the best. It can sometimes feel slow but at other times it can feel sort of rushed. Overall, don't expect a great story if you play this game.

Another flaw I found while playing the game is that some of the environments can feel like a chore to get through. Some of the environments are filled with convoluted pathways, annoying enemies that can kill you if you're not careful and even more annoying puzzles that can take your up time. This is especially bad in the final part of the game. I got frustrated to the point that I considered quitting the game and playing something else. You can't imagine how happy I was when I finally reached the final boss. It meant I didn't have to deal with that crap anymore.

Finally, the character development, in my opinion, isn't the best. While some of the characters got some development and changed quite a lot, others basically stayed the same. What I like about the Tales series is that by the end of the game, almost all of the characters aren't the same as they were at the beginning. I wish the characters all got development instead of only a few getting it.

Now that I'm done talking about the flaws of Tales of Graces, I'll talk about the strengths. I really liked the combat this game has. While it could feel a little button mashy at times, I was hooked on it. I l loved linking combos together to beat an enemy. I also liked using mystic artes and I was glad that I didn't have to unlock them by doing some task. Some of the mystic artes were also quite pretty to look at. The combat was one of the things that Tales of Graces did quite well at.

The humor and art were pretty good. I was laughing a lot at certain scenes and the art for this game is quite pretty to look at.

Overall, Tales of Graces f was a little disappointing but not a bad game.

The happiest JRPG I've ever played.

Let my just get this out of the way first: this game falls VERY heavily on the "Idealistic" sice of the sliding scale of idealism vs cynicism. If you are alergic to such things, you might not like this game. But in a world where bittersweet endings are the norm, I personally find it refreshing.

This might be spoiling things a bit, but I'll just say the ending is quite possibly THE most unambiguously happy one I've ever seen in a JRPG. The ending credits theme compounds this. If you want to feel really good at the conclusion of a game, I highly recommend this. It also stands as a perfect example of how Deconstruction does not equal "Darker and Edgier". Not to spoil too much, but the usual Tales series deconstruction is here applied to JRPG final boss cliches, in a way that makes the plot uplifting rather than tragic.

As for the plot itself, it's simpler than the usual Tales fare but makes up for it with great writing, good pacing and memorable characters. Really the characters are a huge strength of this game, though be warned: they're almost as eccentric as the cast of your average Ace Attorney game. And that's another strong point of this game: humor. I'll just say this: the translators clearly had a LOT of fun writing the item descriptions. And some of the skits, especially in the Playable Epilogue (I disagree with this term, it's more like an additional chapter set after a Time Skip) actually made me laugh out loud, something games rarely provoke out of me.

The main flaws would be in gameplay. Firstly, unlike Xillia, there are some characters here who are just too awkward to use (Pascal, Malik) or are much better left to the AI (Cheria) that I don't really feel the need to play as them. There's also an imbalance when it comes to party healers (namely Cheria >>>>>>>>>>>>>> eveyone else, to the point where there's never any reason not to have her in the party). My main issue though has to be the weakness system, which is incredibly convoluted. Basically, every single standard attack (each of the 7 characters has 20) has a unique set of weaknesses it hits, every enemy has a unique set of weaknesses, and the game expects you to memorise them all. You get bonues for hitting all an ememy's weaknesses in one combo, but in practice that rarely happens outside of random chance. Glad later games went with a standard elemental system.