There have been many modern JRPGs released over the years, although the more recent ones are different from the games of the past. Modern RPGs are more action-orientated and are arguably easier to play compared to the older games.
Well to bring the old gamers back, Columbian game studios Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK have developed a new game that will appeal to hardcore JRPG fans from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. This new game is simply called Cris Tales which is out now for the PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch platforms.
Before I talk about the gameplay and features, the first thing you will notice about Cris Tales is its amazing looking graphics. Even though this game has been developed by smaller development studios, Cris Tales might be the prettiest looking game I’ve played in 2021.
Sure the game isn’t “next-gen” like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5, but the 2D art style is unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. While the game has 2D graphics, it’s still 3D in nature as you can explore levels and roam around the many dungeons and towns that this game has to offer.
Another notable thing about the production values is that the in-game soundtrack is immaculate too. The music in the game is both beautiful and memorable. Not to mention each area you go to with have its own unique theme song.
In terms of its story, Cris Tales revolves around a young orphaned girl named Crisbell. Crisbell is no ordinary girl because, near the start of the game, she gains access to a special crystal that can go back to the past, or fast forward to the future.
Crisbell along with a few of her friends have to save the Crystallis Kingdom from the Empress of the Ages. It’s not going to be an easy task because the Empress of the Ages also has a pair of beautiful minions named the Volcano Sisters that are a pain in the neck for Crisbell and her crew.
While the story and graphics are lovely and engaging, the one thing that somewhat ruins the overall experience is the actual gameplay. Cris Tales features too many gameplay features that I usually hated when I played older JRPGs in the past.
The one thing that annoys me most about the gameplay is that it’s littered with random battles during dungeon scenes. I dislike random battles as you never know who you might have to face, and it gets even more annoying if you’re in a dungeon and you have to face lots of enemies consecutively.
Yes, you can “flee” some random battles; although this is somewhat ill-advised because battling bad guys is the only way you can level up. I usually hate when the enemies have the first turn and there’s nothing else you can do about it other than bear the brunt of their attacks.
I like more modern JRPGs like Persona 5 where you can choose when you want to fight. Also in Persona 5, you are able to creep behind enemies so you can always have the first attack during a battle. The random battles just get very annoying and their frequency gets tiresome too.
That being said, the turn-based combat system can still be fun if you use Crisbell’s powers to control time. For example, your party can drop water on metal in the present time. If you go forward to the future, that piece of metal will be rusted. In another scenario, you can plant poison in the past and then your enemies will get poisoned when you go back to the present.
This gimmick isn’t only used for combat because it’s also a huge part of the actual story too. You need to be very strategic in this game because if you don’t understand the core mechanics, you may have a hard time completing the entire game.
Sadly, there are still other parts of the game that I do not like either. One major omission is that there’s no map for you to see or navigate through when you visit towns or dungeons. Not knowing where to go during dungeons becomes a huge nuisance especially if you get interrupted all the time with the random battles!
Your party also does not replenish magic and health points when you reach a save point. Much like older Final Fantasy video games, you need to use a tent or pay money to rest inside an inn. I just think it’s more useful for your stats to replenish every time you save. I don’t like always needing to spend too much money using too many potions all of the time!
While Cris Tales features an engaging story and beautiful graphics, the experience is hampered by some annoying gameplay mechanics. I know some of these elements were featured in older JRPGs; however, that doesn’t excuse the fact that these features are still annoying. Sadly the gameplay ruined what could have been one of my favourite games of 2021.