PS3A Writer’s GOTY: Tales of Graces f
As a huge lover of Japanese Role-Playing Games, it only makes sense that my game of the year choice is a JRPG. Tales of Graces f is a game that I had been interested in for a long time before I actually purchased it, and I wish that I had bought it earlier.
Although this was an extremely hard choice to make, hopefully I can explain to you, and myself, as to why I love this game so much.
When I picked up Tales of Graces f, I expected a much more simplistic JRPG, but what I found shocked me – in a good way – as I had stumbled across something truly brilliant. The characters are well fleshed-out, the story is engrossing and compelling and the battles, exploring and worlds remind me why I love JRPG’s so much.
Whilst the characters may come across as standard at first, with the young spiky-haired protagonist and his colourful party consisting of an excitable girl, a masculine man, an innocent young girl and a female best friend who wants more than friendship, there is so much more than first meets the eye if you can see past the JRPG cliche’s you’ll be introduced to.
The topics covered in the game are deep and meaningful including death, betrayal, loyalty and friendship, and I was touched by Asbel trying to explain the purpose of graves to the unaware Sophie. As an amnesia sufferer, Sophie requires explanations on even the simplest of things on how the world works, leading to emotional and humourous discussions as things are explained to her. These usually occur in an optional in-game scene – similar to ATE’s in Final Fantasy IX – where you see the characters talk amongst eachother and what they are thinking about. These will keep you entertained on your 40+ hour quest.
The gameplay itself is solid, reminding me of another of my favourite JRPG’s – Eternal Sonata – and has a heavy emphasis on special attacks called ‘Artes’. These attacks allow you to unleashed special moves at the cost of CC, something which is easily gained by evading and attacking with the standard moveset, and have special attributes so that you can tactfully fend off enemies by finding their weaknesses.
You are able to guard and side-step enemy attacks which adds a layer of depth which is relatively uncommon in JRPG’s. As you get further in the story, you’ll realise that being constantly on the offence will not benefit you and that mastering the evade system will be vital to your success against harder enemies and bosses.
I love the anime art style although I wish the characters were capable of more facial expressions during in-game cutscenes, but the costume and character designs are wonderful and so is the world they are in. As it’s an expansive adventure, you get to go through lush forests, snowy mountains and quaint villages so that you never feel as if you are going through the same area to the point it’s repetitive. Even the boxart is eye-catching, standing out from the many generic covers that we see today such as the popular ‘man walks away from explosion with gun in hand’ art.
The music is gorgeous and fits the game well, knowing when to play a melancholy tune or a more up-beat tune. One of the most important things for me in a JRPG is to have a adrenaline-pumping boss battle theme to really make that fight feel important and that it must be won, and fortunately, Tales of Graces f has a brilliant boss battle theme as well as a standard battle theme. Also, luckily for me, I got the edition that comes with the soundtrack, an artbook and the behind the scenes DVD and whilst I haven’t had a look at the making of yet – that would mean getting off the game – I very much look forward to watching it.
I love how games like this are completely capable of pulling me in to their world, being engrossing to the point that I will stay up until the early hours of the morning just to see what happens next and Tales of Graces f does an outstanding job of creating a bright, colourful, fantasy world that I love spending time in with Asbel and co.
If you love games like Final Fantasy, Eternal Sonata and NIER, then I fully recommend that you play this game as it’s amazing and will keep you captivated until the very end.
I adore this game and I hope you do too.