Originally released as a Japanese exclusive for the Wii, Tales Of Graces has made the trek to North America. Renamed Tales Of Grace F, this is the first Tales Of game that North American Playstation 3 owners can get their hands on. Fans of anime or traditional Japanese Role Playing games will find a lot to like here.
The story of Tales Of Graces F centers around a group of companions and their efforts to protect their Kingdom and eventually to save humanity. Plot wise there isn’t anything terribly original here. It’s your standard anime/jrpg story but that isn’t a bad thing since it’s very well done. The main theme of the game is about friendship and how that bond will help carry you forward. It’s a bit cheesy but I’m sure a lot of people will be able to relate to the theme. The story can get melodramatic at times but thanks to the fantastic and endearing voice acting performances, things never get too sappy or over the top.
Battles occur in real time and are very fun and action packed. Once you find an enemy on the field and go to them, you’ll be transported to a battle area that’s separate from the field. Your attacks are combo based, with one leading into another ect. There are two modes of fighting. A-Artes are melee based attacks while B-Artes are magic based. You can mix them up as you wish and you can also dodge attacks which will let you continue combos uninterrupted. As you successfully land attacks, a meter on the left side of the screen fills up and when it tops out, you can then perform devastating super moves. Combat feels a bit button-mashy in the early parts of the game but as you get better and learn more Artes, things will become more strategic and fun. Regular enemies are generally pretty easy but bosses are extremely hard and will really test your combat and strategic skills.
This series is known for letting you cook and Tales Of Graces F continues that tradition. Meals that you cook (by combining foods you find in the world) are mostly helpful for giving health but they can also provide you with stat or combat boosts or immunity to certain effects. Foods are not the only things that can be combined however and you can augment your weapons or equipment with certain items. Combining attack shards with your weapons will make them hit harder while combining defense shards with your armor will make them give you more protection against attacks. There are a ton of different attributes that shards and items can have and the game gives you so many that you are free to experiment without worrying about creating the wrong items. Everything that you create is helpful in one way or another.
The world of Tales Of Graces F is both big and small. It’s big because there are a lot of cities and towns to visit but it’s small due to the limited amount of exploration you can do in any given area. This must be a byproduct of it being originally on the Wii but there are a ton of invisible walls everywhere which can get a bit annoying. The one good thing about this is that it’s very hard to miss something out in the field due to the limited space you can explore. Dungeons are more spacious than the overworld thankfully and there are numerous side paths to explore. The level designs, while simple, are very logical and you won’t get frustrated by getting lost in a particularly complex dungeon.
Although the world of Graces isn’t as expansive as that of other games, it makes up for it by being pretty. For a game that was ported from the Wii it sure does look good. It isn’t up to the standards of truly HD games but considering that the art style is anime in nature, there isn’t that much need for super detailed graphics. The character designs and the colors all make for a very eye pleasing experience. The music is serviceable but uninspired. It’s good but will feel very familiar if you’ve played these types of games before. The only real downside with sound is that the dialogue sounds a bit compressed. Again, this is probably a result of the game being a Wii port. It’s not a deal breaker but it’s noticeable.
Like any good RPG, Tales Of Graces F is a time vacuum. The main story will take about 60 hours to complete and the add on epilogue Lineages And Legacies will add another 12 hours to the count. There are sidequests that you can partake in but most of them have you delivering items to inns. These are items that you either find on the field or create via dualizing. Getting trophies isn’t particularly hard but you will need to play the game at least twice to get them all.
To this day there is a shocking lack of traditional JRPGs being released on the Playstation 3 so fans of the genre should definitely pick this game up. No new ideas are brought to the table but that’s okay since the overall game is so well crafted. The old adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” definitely applies here. For fans of old school JRPGs, Tales Of Grace F is a winner.
•Fun, fast paced combat
•Small world with little room to explore
•Severe difficulty spikes on bosses
Tales of Graces F was developed by Namco Tales studio and published by Namco Bandai. It is available now exclusively for the Playstation 3.