Why live in the present when you can live in the present and the future and the past – at the same time?
A barely teenage I fell head over heels for the pictures of Secret of Mana and Super Power. The price tag, 899 at Lekhörnan in Alingsås, made mother confirm: “I am not made of money”. Still, she paid, for she may not have been made of money but of love. Sorry, Mom. And thanks.
That’s how I discovered the Japanese role-playing games, the genre that for a few years was really “mine”. It may not be the same anymore, but I will always have a special place in my heart Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Suikoden and the others.
I’m not alone in that. Cris Tales is a love letter to the jrpg genre, but is neither Japanese (it’s Colombian) nor backward-looking. Or now I must have lied. Yes please, Cris Tales striving backwards. And forwards. And dare to be here and now. At the same time. Time travel in games (and jrpg) is nothing new, but to my knowledge, holding everything on one screen has never been done before. Uspen is not abysmal but beautifully unique.
Today, yesterday and tomorrow
Every new kingdom you come to has its own special headache, and the cure is always about looking both forwards and backwards. In Saint Clarity we see how the city takes shape on the left. In the middle (that is: now) we are forced to parry the sewage that is constantly rushing forward on the street. And in the future? There, the city’s poor areas are completely below the surface. By making decisions, following the main story and even pulling the strings, you can change tomorrow. In both large and small. It’s awesome.
Not all choices are obvious and the future is not always bright for everyone.
It is noticeable that the brains behind Cris Tales fly idea love it. That they played with it, pulled it in all possible (and impossible) directions. It flows freely through the game and now it’s my turn to pick it up. To take a risk, to dare to take a chance. Crisbell is a newly saved time magician who travels through the world in search of himself, but where it quickly becomes clear that the (time) journey is more beautiful than the goal.
Also read: Scarlet Nexus – Review
What is it?
Jrpg (though not Japanese) that lets you play with time.
Dreams Uncorporated, Syck
Pc (Intel Core i7-7700, Gefore GTX 1080, 16 GB RAM)
Also check out
Chrono Trigger, not reviewed
Random encounters tend to feel like brake pads, but here they are instead opportunities for ingenious strategies. The theme of time – the future on the right, the past on the left, the present in the middle – is repeated in the battles as well. Crisbell can also change in space of time and thereby make grown-up enemies become frail old men. If you poison a monster in the present to take it into the future, you can probably calculate the toxic effect. And yesterday’s damp armor? Of course it’s rust tomorrow.
The turn-based battles are also cheered up by the fact that with well-timed keystrokes you can get harder blows, or parry poison, magic and other things thrown at you. I like how the battles force me to think, how they often have different conditions. Crisbell plays the main role with his time magic, but this can be supported by sidekicks. Christopher (yep, Chris twice) is a fan of elemental magic.
Other faces are JKR-721, which can overheat, and Zas, which is literally totally random.
Cris Tales makes me happy, but beyond the game’s big draw, it’s not as carefree. The world map is quite meager, the design is plastic, the balance rubs and the ensemble says a lot without saying anything at all. In other words: the love letter to the jrpg genre fails with some of the jrpg pieces in the puzzle. The irony, anyway.
No, Cris Tales succeeds well much better at looking ahead to new ideas. Being able to directly see the far-reaching consequences of their actions is something special. Nor does the game need to write us on the nose as we can actually see the history of the cities ourselves just by turning our gaze to the left.
As a love letter to the Japanese role-playing games Cris Tales but as a time pioneer, it’s a beautiful little thing.
Also read: It Takes Two – review
A snapshot of time
You can run through Cris Tales, but that’s not right. Everywhere it is worth stopping to look both backwards and forwards. Sometimes it is possible to poke in space, sometimes it is just beautiful to watch. Here, Crisbell helped a fiddler get a brighter future. Solution? Money. Not so elegant, but still honest.
The jrpg bits are slightly thin, but the core of Cris Tales – wasting time – both fascinating and brilliant.