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Video Game / Cris Tales

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Cris Tales is a Role-Playing Game developed by Colombian independent studios Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK, and published by Modus Games. It is described as a "love letter to classic JRPGs", featuring hand-drawn art and turn-based combat.

Crisbell is an orphan living in the town of Narim. One day, while she was tending to the orphanage's rose garden, Matias, a strange talking frog wearing a top hat, hopped by and stole a flower. While chasing the frog, Crisbell winds up in the Cathedral, where she awakens a special power: by opening the Crystals of Time, she can see the past and the future. When the town is attacked by a group of raiders sent by the Empress of Time, Crisbell embarks on a journey to save her town.

The most distinctive gameplay feature of Cris Tales is the ability to simultaneously view the past, present, and future: the screen is split into three sections, each showing the world at a different point in time, and actions taken in the present can cause the future to change before your eyes. This ability can also be used in combat, turning foes into younger or older versions of themselves. However, this ability can also cause the player to be forced to make difficult decisions.

Cris Tales was released on July 20, 2021 (originally late 2020 before postponing) on Steam, Xbox One, Play Station 4, and Nintendo Switch. Before release, a demo version was available, featuring the introduction and the boss fights against Volcano and Galley.

Cris Tales contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Commands: The game starts with a battle, in which Matias instructs Crisbell how to use these in combat.
    Matias: Getting that second hit requires precise timing! Make sure you push the [attack] button again right as your attack hits the enemy.
  • The Ageless: Willhelm, another time mage (but one that has only unlocked one half of Crisbell's powers), uses his powers to preserve his youthful appearance; Crisbell originally mistakes him for a child when they meet. He has a good reason not to use his time powers for anything else.
  • All Myths Are True: The Lady is the focus of a religion in the world, with her worshipped as a savior. The Mother Superiors throughout the land are dedicated to the Lady. The Lady is another version of Crisbell, who time traveled to try to stop Ardo. At the end of the game, after Cris vanishes, Zas comments she and Kari will spread her message and tell the people about Cris. She wonders if this is how religions start.
  • Ambiguous Situation: What motivated humanity to drive the Rena to near extinction is never explained. The Rena scientists and JKR only speculate that the humans got greedy and decided the Rena weren't sharing enough of their research and resources with them.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only have three characters in your party at a time.
  • Arch-Enemy: Ardo and different versions of Crisbell have been enemies for thousands of years. Due to time travel, they can never quite defeat the other, with each one jumping back in time with each defeat to try again.
  • Bad Future: Each city Crisbell and the others visit will have a future in which the city is somewhere between a dictatorship (Narim) to outright destroyed (Floodside District, Cinder). It's up to Crisbell to make that future better, though the extent to which she can fix the future depends on how many side quests are finished.
    • The Time Empress comes from a bad future herself, in which she failed to defeat Ardo and escaped into the past to try again.
  • Big Bad: The Time Empress is the cause of many of the major conflicts in both the present and in the future.
  • Bittersweet Ending: To prevent the kingdom from becoming overwritten by the Rena, Crisbell opts to send Ardo's world further into the future. She sacrifices herself in the process, but the time jump was successful, allowing Ardo to return home and keeping Crisbell's own world intact.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The Trifly Royalty, who can show up in random encounters if you fail to destroy them in their cocoon form quickly enough, is more of a Glass Cannon example of this trope. They don't have as much health as some other enemies, but their attack patterns are not dissimilar to how the actual bosses fight, which is to say that they love disabling party members. They are fast enough to have multiple turns in quick succession, and they use these turns to spam unblockable poison and stun spells that ensure you'll be burning through resources.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: As the last of the Rena, Ardo can control the Witnesses. He does this to each of the 4 Witnesses met throughout the game and has them attack Cris and her party.
  • Central Theme: The damage caused by fixating on only one point in time. Nearly every villain spreads misery as a result of them being unable to see the full spectrum of time, either undoing the advancements of the present to capture their nostalgia of the past, solely focusing on prospering in the present even as their decisions bring ruin to the future, or sacrificing the livelihood of the people in the present to prepare for the future.
  • Choice-and-Consequence System: To quote the game's market description, the player will "alter the course of the future in ways that will reshape the world dynamically depending on the choices you make". An early example of this is Crisbell seeing a future where two of her neighbors' homes have been destroyed by Ash Blight, but there is only enough ointment to save one house, forcing her to choose which one will end up homeless.
  • Cold Open: The game starts with Crisbell and Cristopher in combat against goblins.
  • Counter-Attack:
    • If Enzo is ever attacked while at least one of his Hounds is active, a Hound will lunge and attack back at whoever damaged Enzo. The Hounds themselves do not retaliate when attacked though.
    • Ardo has a move called Perfect Counter in which all damaging moves done to him for the next few turns will result in him immediately sending an unblockable attack at a party member. It usually is, but not always, the one who attacked Ardo.
  • Deader than Dead: Willhelm uses up the last second of his life, that he saved from his previous encounter with the Time Empress, to save Crisbell and their companions.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Or frog in this case. After you defeat The Empress, it’s revealed that Matias, your little frog friend who was the one who trained you in your powers, is actually a man named Ardo who’s magically disguised as a frog and the True Final Boss after he revealed that he was only using Crisbell to further his plans of bringing back his race, the Rena.
  • Doomed Hometown: Somewhat subverted in that Crisbell's hometown is (mostly) fine when she leaves it to start her adventure, but thanks to her power to see the future she knows it WILL be doomed if nothing is done.
  • Early Game Hell: After the tutorial, newbies to the RPG genre are in for a rude awakening. Your characters are extremely limited in their attack and support options at the start, even healing items are fairly expensive given how little money enemies drop, and enemies do a considerable amount of damage even when you're guarding, with the early enemies even capable of inflicting nasty status effects like paralysis and poison. Things do start to balance out as your party gains new abilities after a few level-ups, and the enemies start providing stronger monetary rewards.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The DLC update pushes the ending into this as opposed to the initial Bittersweet Ending. Getting the new ending requires that you defeat Alexadre, the new DLC boss, and free him from corruption. By doing so, he and Adri will be able to save Crisbell from being erased from existence, allowing her to return to live to a ripe old age.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: After defeating the Time Empress, Crisbell saw a future vision of something called the Cataclysm, due to The Time Empress somehow manipulating the ruins scattered around the world to explode. It turns out to be the product of the Time Empress setting all of the Rena Ruins to self-destruct in order to prevent Ardo from travelling further back in time and enacting his plans anew. The resulting destruction would kill a lot of people, but it wouldn't lead to planet-wide extinction like it would have if Ardo succeeded.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The accessible areas in the game are based on various parts of Colombia, where the game was made, albeit through a very heavy High Fantasy filter:
    • Narim's basis is Villavicencio, an agricultural town that in later decades blossomed into an industrial center, similar to the track Narim is heading. Villavicencio, however, is best known to Colombians as a major battle site of La Violencia, a civil war in the 1940s to 1950s, paralleling the Volcano Sisters' invasion of Narim. Villavicencio is also home to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, just as Narim has its own major cathedral in the area, with both sharing architectural styles and a very pale color scheme. The cathedral itself, however, more resembles Las Lajas Shrine—just as Crisbell saw visions of herself as a sacred figure in the cathedral, people report of seeing the Virgin Mary in Las Lajas Shrine. It is also located in the district of Nariño, which sounds similar to "Narim."
    • St. Clarity is the counterpart to Barranquilla, a sprawling city with a hilly metropolitan area and a maritime culture. Both have a history of corrupt politicians exploiting the impoverished for financial gain, and said impoverished's districts are known for flooding as part of their water distribution systems. In addition, the cathedral bears resemblance to the city's Iglesia San Nicolás. The cannons on the pathway leading between Floodside District and the Walled City resemble the decorative cannons found in the parks around Barranquilla.
    • The Neva Tulira region draws inspiration from Zipaquirá, home of the real-life Salt Cathedral, which is also built out of a salt mine. The angel statues in the game resemble the ones found in the real version, and both the real and fictional regions consider salt in very high regard due to their local economies having been built off of them. The Neva Tulira Museum and University are likely based on Zipaquirá's Parque de la Sal (Salt Park). The Bird People inhabiting Neva Tulira are the game's counterpart to the Muisca, an indigenous people who mined salt long before contact with westerners, and the parade draws from the Holy Week processions celebrated in Zipaquirá.
    • The Cinder region derives from Tolima, a department (region) of Colombia that's home to Nevado del Ruiz, the country's most dangerous volcano, though not the most active. Ceniza is this game's counterpart to Armero, a town that got flooded in molten-hot lahars flowing down from Nevado del Ruiz and killed over three quarters of its population, reflecting Ceniza still being in ruins and its people nearly wiped out. The city of Cinder, meanwhile, analogizes to Ibagué, the capital of Tolima Department; the city is in the figurative crosshairs of Nevado del Ruiz, reflecting Cinder's volcano erupting and devastating the town. The Cathedral on the dragon's egg is most likely based on the Cathedral of Ibagué (though the real one is, thankfully, still intact). Tolima is home to the Panche people, who have long been at armed conflict with the Muisca, just as how Cinderians (the race) and the bird people of Neva Tulira don't get along.
    • The importance of rubies and sapphires in the plot of Cris Tales reflects the real-world mining of rubies and sapphires in Colombia.
    • The festival with lanterns seen when first entering Cinder, while an element of many real-world cultures, are based specifically on Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles), a national holiday in Colombia, in which people craft paper lanterns and display them outside in large quantities in every major city.
    • The major conflict of this game, the conquest and subjugation of the lands by the Time Empress, may be based on the aforementioned La Violencia, a civil war in which the Colombian Conservative Party attacked its political opponents seemingly out of the blue, and in brutal fashion. If so, this would make Ardo the game's version of Tirofijo, a revolutionary leader who turned against his comrades and formed his own faction.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: When arriving at Crystallis Cris comments that Matias is missing. He no longer appears hopping behind the party and Zas asks Crisbell what she wants to do at save points.
    • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Matias is, however, still there during battles serving as the marker for whose turn it is to attack at the moment throughout Crystallis, including the battle against the Time Empress.
  • Golden Ending: Occurs if the player successfully completed all side quests.
    • The best outcomes for each city' respective side quests include a committee to oversee St. Clarity, funding for both the university and museum in Neva Tulira, and both Volcano Sisters surviving in Cinder.
    • This also affect the overall ending with additional cutscenes showing the characters after the game finishes.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ardo, by virtue of him being the Time Empress's Arch-Enemy and the driving factor behind her actions.
  • The Hecate Sisters: The church in Crisbell's hometown has a stained glass window with three female figures who appear to represent Crisbell's past, present and future selves (given that they are literally wearing the exact same outfit, and Crisbell gains her Time Master powers immediately after, with past and future shown on the same sides as, respectively, the younger and older women in the stained glass).
    • All the stained glass in each of the Cathedrals shows an image of 3 female figures in the past, present and future.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Matias the frog presents the initial tutorials to Crisbell, mentioning things like the attack button in the process.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Crisbell, the main heroine, wields a magical sword in combat.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Happens thrice.
    • Willhelm gives up the last few second of his life to break the Time Empress' barrier, allowing the party to finally hurt her.
    • When Peter's mercenaries attack Narim, Joe, the old carpenter, holds them off so that the townsfolk can evacuate to the orphanage. Crisbell and the party drive off the mercenaries but Joe eventually dies of his wounds.
    • Crisbell agrees to help Ardo bring the Rena into the far future to avoid overwriting the current reality. They succeed, but she uses up too much power and Disappears into Light. It is not known if she is really dead, given the nature of time magic, but nobody is certain. The revised ending suggests otherwise, as it depicts an elderly woman who resembles Crisbell.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • In the first encounter with sisters Volcano and Galley, their powerful armor makes it impossible to harm them.
    • The first two fights with the Time Empress are this up to 11. Nothing you do will deliver even a single point of damage, and she'll deal wipe out the entire party on her first turn with an excessively potent attack.
  • How We Got Here: When the first battle against sisters Volcano and Galley appears unwinnable, time then rewinds back to the start of the day, showing how Crisbell got there (and what she can use to win).
  • HP to One: The Time Empress's Time Compression move brings everyone in the party down to 1 HP. She rarely follows it up with something that can take out everyone on the team at once though, and she'll only use it every few turns at most. Ardo, on the other hand, will use Time Compression at every opportunity the team isn't already at 1 HP, and he will always follow it up with a spread attack to try to eliminate the whole team at once.
  • Humans Are Bastards: According to Ardo and based on recording, the humans betrayed and led to the downfall of the Rena. How and why are unexplained, only that the humans invaded and killed many of the Rena.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of the game, K and Paulina stay in the present and do not go into the future with the other Witnesses and Ardo.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The Glass Lung for Cinderians and others. For Cinderians it doesn't kill them outright but does turn them into feral goblins. At least, this is what the Cinderians, particularly the Volcano Sisters, are made to think. In truth, the medicine the Volcano Sisters give them, provided by the Time Empress, turns them feral once they take too much of it.
  • In Medias Res: The game starts with the town of Narim being assailed by goblins led by the Volcano Sisters.
  • Interface Screw:
    • At certain save points, the options to save, use a tent or do nothing are switched around sometimes.
    • Triggots and their pupal and adult forms can create silk webbing that prevents Crisbell from breaking time crystals, locking the sides of the screens in their time periods.
    • The Virus enemies in Kestora, once activated, will not only disable certain actions for their targeted characters, but digital artifacts will appear all over the screen as long as they remain in effect, as if your screen was damaged.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: All versions of the game suffer this, but the Switch version seems to suffer the most. Users have noticed at least 8 to 10 seconds of loading per transition screen. This includes transitioning in and out of random battles, which only increases the aggravation.
  • Logical Weakness: Sisters Volcano and Galley have impenetrable defense when you first encounter them; they combine their giant metal shields, each already as tall as they are, to block all incoming damage. The second time around, your unlocked time powers mean that you can cast them into the future. Normally, this only makes them even more powerful, but Cristopher casting Water on them first causes their armor to have rusted over time, making them vulnerable to damage.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Cristopher, the male mage who is the second party member gained, carries a shield half as tall as he is. The tag-team boss of Volcano and Galley also use a massive double shield as both protection and weapon.
  • Magitek: Seen with the Witnesses. It is unclear if they are robots or magically empowered beings, or both.
  • Mana Meter: During combat, the party's stats are displayed in the bottom-left corner; the green bar is health, blue is MP, and purple (exclusive to Crisbell) is CP. Subverted with JKR-721 who does not use mana the same way as the other characters.
  • Multiple Endings: Two. One for defeating the final boss. Another for losing and choosing to give up.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Rena freely shared their knowledge and resources with the humans to elevate them. The humans evidently decided that it wasn't enough and killed them all in order to take everything the Rena had for themselves.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: There are several ways to get game over events without losing fights to monsters or boss fights you must win. One involves a hostage, another involves a bomb, and another involves incorrectly dealing with running up to the final boss. And yet another bad ending happens if you lose to the final boss and decide to give up. Getting the true ending also requires finishing all the side quests.
  • Overheating: Oh boy. JKR-721 can overheat to the point of setting himself on fire if he doesn't consciously cool off. Having him overheat near the player party is a very bad idea and can result in a total party kill if everyone's low on health. In fact, you get the "Technical problems" achievement/trophy for causing a Total Party Kill this way.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • In each area, shortly before you fight that area's last boss, any side quests not yet completed there will be deemed incomplete for the rest of the game, even if they weren't started. This also means that area's city's future will not be fully restored, though its civilians may be happy depending on which side quests were completed.
    • One particularly missable side quest, "A Memorial to the Fallen," involves Noah, a worker on Mt. Thysia. When Crisbell first enters the area, he is under attack by Wulves. Doing anything else before coming to his aid, even so much as talking to the merchant NPC by the entrance to stock up, means the Wulves kill him and the side quest cannot be started. This also means you cannot undo the Bad Future of the city of St. Clarity.
    • A crystal ball can be found in the sewers beneath St. Clarity, which is required to finish the side quest "The Witness." These sewers cannot be visited once they start flooding after defeating the Sewer Deathstalker, rendering the crystal ball impossible to pick up afterwards.
    • Completing the side quest "Setting the Basses" removes all of the enemies from Neva Tulira's Salt Mines. There are a few enemies only found there, meaning if you hadn't scanned them, you'll never be able to do so again. This aspect also creates an odd dilemma in which the absence of Salt Mine enemies also means Kari Hudo can't get a sample of those enemies without intentionally failing to complete the side quest past where it can no longer be completed.
  • Precursors: Throughout the lands there are remnants of a long lost civilization that blended magic and technology called the Rena.
  • Pun-Based Title: The game's name has different meanings depending on how it's written. If in the English way, "Cris Tales", it references the protagonist Crisbell and the many tales about her and her Alternative Self, the Time Empress, thanks to time travel. If written in the Spanish way (the game being developed by a Colombian studio), "Cristales", it talks about the time crystals that empower Crisbell and how they're the core mechanic of the game. In both spellings, the pronunciation of "crystals" can still be followed through the title.
  • Riddle for the Ages: For reasons never explained, the Trifly and Triggot Creeper are completely immune to being scanned, leaving their very nature a complete mystery.
  • Schizo Tech: Plenty of odd things abound to screw with the idea that the game is in the typical fantasy setting.
    • Narim is the pastoral starting point in the game, but at some point into the potential future, smoking factories and American-styled tractors will be the norm.
    • Heavy industry has advanced to the point where the Great Forge has an elevator and electrical switches, yet every humanoid combatant (aside from the player party members) still runs around with medieval fighting kit.
    • There are robots with advanced programming being developed in St. Clarity, but the apparent time period still seems to be something more like mid-19th century continental Europe. Inexplicably, there seems to be a sport-utility vehicle in the flood-side district.
  • Sequel Hook: Ardo returns with his people into the future, but is surprised to see someone offscreen and comments "It's you". Fade to black. Completing the Adri post-release story suggests it's Crisbell, having survived the time portal's creation for Ardo and living into old age.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Upon defeating the Time Empress, Crisbell has a vision of the world exploding in a Cataclysm. It is the Time Empress' failsafe, with the ruins around the world exploding in case of her defeat. Crisbell and co time travel to before they defeated the Empress and deactivate the Ruins, preventing it from happening.
  • Short Teens, Tall Adults: Adult characters are usually about twice as tall as teenage protagonists, and the Time Empress in particular is almost trice as tall as Crisbell.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A character named Mario decides to take up plumbing. In addition, Crisbell says at one point that " missing in the future" when she notices his absence.
    • There are characters in Cinder named Fira and Firaga.
    • The achievement for capturing all enemy souls using Kari Hudo's "Soul Harvest" skill is called "The best, like no one ever was", referencing the first English theme song of Pokémon: The Series.
  • Significant Double Casting: Kira Buckland voices both Crisbell and the Time Empress. Considering they are both the same person from different timelines, it's only fitting.
  • Take Your Time: Averted with the side quests. Certain side quests become inaccessible after completing an area, and other become inaccessible, in once instance, if the quest giver dies before saving them.
  • Talking Animal: Matias, a friend of more experienced time mage Willhelm the Wise, is a talking frog. He tends to hide around Muggles in order to avoid shocking them.
  • Temporal Duplication: A side effect of time travel. If someone time travels a short time into the past, they merge with their past selves. If they jump further back in time, it allows the 2 versions of the character to exists at the same time. Since the Time Empress is a Bad Future version of Crisbell from the far future, both are allowed to co-exists.
    • This also allows Ardo's plan to bring back the Rena to fruition without sacrificing all of humanity. He agrees with Crisbell to bring his people to the far future so they don't overwrite the current reality, creating an entirely separate planet in the process.
  • Time Master: As one might guess, time mages have powers over time. Crisbell is special, as she can look into both the past and future (such as when she sees the destruction of her neighbors' homes), and send Matias or her foes to other points in time (such as the second fight against sisters Volcano and Galley); in comparison, more experienced time mage Willhelm can only use his power to be The Ageless.
  • Time Travel: A main feature of the game. The Time Empress had previously traveled back in time to try to stop Ardo again, and Cris and her companions travel to stop a Cataclysm from occurring. The entire Rena civilization also jumps forward in time to the far future.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: The first thing Lana does after Crisbell and Cristopher repel the assault on Narim lead by Volcano and Galley is immediately jump to the conclusion that the kids planned the attack somehow and then order the city's guards to arrest them. As it turns out, Lana is actually a spy for the Time Empress.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: The order in which characters act in combat is shown at the top of the screen.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The soldiers of Neva Tulira have deep male voices, even though they have feminine body shapes and Battle Ballgown uniforms (and Girlish Pigtails hair in the case of trainees).
  • A Wizard Did It: Upon returning to Cinder with a de-aged Kari and commenting on the city's near destruction Zas tells her verbatim A Wizard Did It to write off the damage. It doesn't work for very long. It's also technically true, as a wizard, the Time Empress, did almost destroy Cinder.


Video Example(s):


A Good Future

Some celebrate, some rebuild, and some grieve in a world Crisbell helped to make a better place.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue

Media sources: