Pre-tested game: Tales of Arise (PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, Windows
Launch: September 10, 2021
Award: From SEK 568 on Prisjakt.se (PS5)
Bandai Namco’s Tales of series of role-playing games may not be as well known (or recognized) as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but have always been there alongside the giants. In the beginning, they reminded of a hybrid between role-playing games and fighting games, and then developed further into the more action-based role-playing games we have today.
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Tales of Arise is the first, brand new game since Tales of Berseria from 2016. In a parallel world where the pandemic never broke out, we had probably tested the demo on the spot, in Bandai Namco’s booth at the E3 fair in Los Angeles. Fortunately, we still got the chance to play an early beta version through the streaming service Shadow.
A more advanced world
The theme of Tales of Arise is old versus new, technology meets old weapon art. We can draw parallels to the game’s development here, as Arise is the very first Tales of game to use the Unreal engine, instead of Bandai Namco’s own. Now we are certainly playing a very early version of the game, but we are already noticing that the world is much bigger and more open than before.
The demo allows us to explore a large, open field. Greenery is alternated with small streams here and there. Further away we also see a couple of single houses and farms. At the far end of the horizon we also see a gigantic complex and also a big city. The problem for our heroes is that the whole colorful field is surrounded by equally colorful, evil creatures who do not intend to let us pass without a fight.
The five friends and Shinnoe
Speaking of heroes, we have access to a gang of six, all complete with their very own fighting style. After having a bit of a laugh with the typical sword-wielding protagonist Alphen, we switch to his much more interesting partner Shinnoe. Unlike the rest of the gang, she attacks everything and everyone from a distance, using a sniper rifle and various types of grenades.
We just cannot say no to such an arsenal of weapons. It also feels very foreign to a Japanese role-playing game, which only makes the whole thing more interesting. At least it’s clear that her style stands out from the rest of the gang. Namely, they are based on more traditional fighting styles, such as kicking melee experts, magicians and armored knights.
Fast and flashy battles
Like many other games in the genre, battles do not start directly in the event of a collision with the enemy. Instead, we are transported to a special battle scene, where everything happens in real time. Initially, we only pepper the attack button, but the more battles we participate in, the more we discover of the Devil May Cry-like approach.
At least we get that impression, when we fire different types of ointments at the monsters, follow up with air raids that make us question gravity, to finally end it all with one of the many super attacks available. Or at least, call in one of the many team members for a special, spectacular double finish.
Of course, all special attacks depend on a particular meter. So we can not link these with each other forever without carrying out the combo attacks customary for action games. In our case, it can sometimes be monotonous, as our character mostly attacks from a distance.
To be continued
The positive thing then is that we do not have access to blockages, and must therefore always be ready to turn away every time the antagonists rush towards us. We can also, entertainingly enough, switch between the character we control ourselves, which in itself bodes too much experimentation. But in connection with this, Bandai Namco has removed the opportunity to play co-op during the battles, which is said to upset some fans.
It was also sad that we never got to experience the city that appeared on the horizon, or some of the well-publicized dialogues between characters. And if we are to be really picky, we also do not notice the next gen updates, other than that the world is a bit more open. But it may have more to do with the fact that we play a very early demo version that focuses on the battles.
And there at least the game seems to deliver. How good the game will be, however, you will read in a future review, when the game is released on September 10, 2021.