Prior to this game I had never played a game in the series. I watched someone play Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube but that was the extent of my experience with Tales. Tales of Abyss is one of the only JRPGs available on the 3DS in North America at the moment which kind of makes it special in a way to me. That’s not to say that it being a rare genre on the system makes it a spectacular game. It has it’s faults but also has alot of strong qualities.
To start off I must say, Tales of Abyss is a port of a PS2 game of the same name. Whether that turns you off or not I don’t know. It is impressive though that the 3DS barely sacrifices anything and is also in full 3D. The main character you’ll be playing as is Luke. He is a rich teen who is obviously spoiled, but has also been locked up in his castle because a few years prior he was kidnapped. The story is the most interesting aspect of Tales of Abyss and at times i’d find myself staying up late hours just to see the next part of the story. Most of the game is fully voice acted and even the parts that are not are well scripted and interesting to read. There are many twists and turns, betrayals, friendships are tested, and the story never stops engaging the player.
One fault of the consistent story though is the linearity that it causes on the gameplay. Usually you are restricted on where you go so you are always looking for the next place to go to progress, yet are never really told exactly the spot on the map. So basically alot of your excess time in the game is spent attempting to go somewhere only to be told that it’s not the way and the game will force you to go away by not allowing you entry. However, later on when you start unlocking parts of the map the game opens up more and you are free to visit any town you want to. Just know that the first 10 or so hours of the game you will be sent on a journey from place to place and can only go where you are told unless you previously visited an area.
One of the strong points of Tales of Abyss is it’s combat. It is an action RPG where you can only play as one character but you choose who you want to control in your party. On the PS2 version you could play local multiplayer but sadly in this one all of your team is A.I. controlled and multiplayer has been cut. Don’t worry though as the A.I. is actually likely better than any of your “local” friends would be. You assign them commands before battles and they will fulfill them on the fly. They will heal anyone low on health if you want them to and you can even make them refuse to use up all your healing items as well. You can also pause the action to be more specific if that’s more your thing.
The characters you use throughout all have a ton of variety in their personalities which in my opinion is Abyss’s main highlight. If you are a fan of anime or JRPGs than this game will absorb you with it’s characters alone. Some say Luke is annoying and in a way they are correct. However once you get to a certain point he really starts to change and mature. I did however find him quite hilarious in the beginning myself but I understand various people’s gripes with him. What I found so interesting is how they all react with one another. Everyone has another that they get along with or despise at certain points. It makes for a lot of great conversations and the chemistry is excellent.
What you get with Tales of Abyss is a very lengthy JRPG for your 3DS. It might be a port and have some obvious cuts and even a few faults, but Tales of Abyss is a great RPG in general. Great characters, fun and addicting combat, and a game that could easily last you 70-80 hours. It might not be the JRPG that 3DS needs at the moment, but it’s all we really have at the moment (besides Kingdom Hearts, but I don’t consider that traditional). If you have strong interests in RPGs and are looking for a game to play on 3DS I couldn’t recommend Abyss enough.