Reviews: Tales Of Symphonia

One Of The Best RP Gs I\'ve Ever Played

Tales of Symphonia is a RPG that really changed the Tales formula and undoubtedly contributed to the way RP Gs are made today.

The story takes the archetypal hero's journey and injects elements of realism that slowly carve away the romanticized myths and lore. The main adversaries, the Desians were originally a discriminated race that had endured such suffering, that they feel the only way they can feel liberated is through force of arms. The standard fantasy setting is an enforced Medieval Stasis. Small details start to add to a much greater plot that carries through after the first third of the game. However, what truly makes this game great is that after the first third, it is the characters that drive the story. There isn't an ancient prophecy telling them what to do, no age old mentor to guide them. The characters have rely on each other to resolve the plot and piece together the rules of their world in order to create a world they desire.

Which plays into the game's main strength which is character interaction. I don't think this game would be nearly as dear to me, if it didn't have good character interaction. Even in the more conventional beginning of the game, how the characters interact is diverse and multidimensional. The elf character, Genus, secretly hates the ignorant human masses yet strains to maintain his relationship with his childhood friends who are both human. The chosen hero, Colette, gradually loses her human qualities to become an all powerful savior. When the situation changed drastically, Lloyd steps into the role of leader, and finds himself fighting the personal demons of his friends just as much as the enemies that want him dead. The scenes offer much variety as well from late night confessions to cold-hearted betrayals, the game has many memorable dramatic moments.

Gameplay-wise, tactics and positioning are just as important as stringing together combos. Symphonia is admittedly one of the easier entries but some of its late game and bonus bosses can be brutal if not decently prepared.

Symphonia remains a classic of the RPG genre. It experiments with fantasy plotlines, it challenges fantasy archetypes, and it possesses truly great scenes of drama and suspense. It's quality justifies its spot as one of the hallmark titles of the Tales series.

Somewhat Dated but Still Worth Playing

Tales of Symphonia is the second Tales game that I have played in the series. I have to say that while I do think the game shows its age at times ,I still think it's a good game and worth playing. I'll talk about the strengths and flaws that this game has in this review.

The strengths this game has lie in its combat system, story and characters. First, the combat system is quite fun. I love being able to use the different fighting moves and attacks that this game has. Enemies and bosses are always great and the fun is finding out what attacks and strategies will help you the most. While the combat can seem like all you need to do is button mash, it requires some strategy and you will die a lot if you're not careful. Overall, the combat is quite good and a lot of fun.

The story is another strength this game has. At first glance ,it seems like your stereotypical "save the world" story and for the first several hours, it seems that way. Everything's so happy and idealistic and you think the game remains like that all the way through. However you would be very wrong. There's a big twist near a third of the game that changes everything about the story. Soon, the game starts dealing with some pretty heavy issues such as racism, discrimination, revenge, human experimentation, and such other things. What I liked about the story was that even though it could get pretty dark, there was still idealism in it. That made the story quite intriguing.

Finally, the characters were why I liked this game a lot. While I liked some characters more than others, I found most of the characters to be quite likeable and fun to watch. I really like the fact that all of the characters got development and changed. I also liked the fact that the characters were willing to help each other out. This made for some really great scenes. If I had to pick my favorite characters, they would be Raine and Kratos. The former for being a wise, intelligent woman who helped out the party and gave advice when dealing with tough situations and the latter for being a Badass with an interesting past. Overall the characters were another reason why I liked this game.

While I really liked Tales of Symphonia overall, it still had some flaws that prevented it from being perfect. One flaw is the art style. The art style definitely shows that this game is from the early 2000's. The lips don't always sync well with the voices and some of the designs of different characters can border on the uncanny valley. Another flaw this game has is that the combat system, while fun, isn't as polished as later games in the series. For example, there's no free run meaning you can't avoid enemies and you have fight them head on. Finally, while the story is good, the pacing could've been better. Certain parts feel a little slow at times and it can be a little hard to follow what's going on at times.

Despite these issues, I enjoyed my time with Tales of Symphonia. It's a good game and worth playing.