If you enjoy JRPGs, I highly recommend Namco-Bandai’s Tales of the Abyss. This is one of the better RPGs I’ve played in recent memory. In fact, I think it must stand – if we do not include any western RPGs – as second only to Kingdom Hearts in my tally.
The plot of Tales of the Abyss is fairly standard for RPGs of this type. A young boy with a shadowy past must save the world. However, Tales of the Abyss doesn’t simply follow standard, worn out procedure when it comes to executing this plot. The character development in the game is excellent. In fact, I’d say that the character development is second only to Final Fantasy X out of all the games I’ve played – and it may very well surpass even that gem. There is no dark and brooding hero to be found in Abyss. Nor is there a damsel in distress to be saved. The plot, although seemingly standard at first, evolves into quite the epic tale – albeit of a somewhat standard mold. Of course, when one is dealing with epic tales, the definition is something like “save the world,” so there is only so much variance that can be introduced to a game and still maintain the coveted designation.
All this babbling aside, Abyss was an excellent game. It has inspired me to take a look at Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Legendia. I’m also attempting to talk Mandy into letting me name one of our kids “Vandesdelca Musto Fende,” but I don’t think she’s going to budge on this one.
As I think back over the fifty hours I spent playing this game, I’m continually amazed at the amount of character development they were able to include. They also managed to give it an excellent ending that left me satisfied yet not overly so. An impressive feat since I’ve found few games that can manage that – one of the more notable exceptions to this rule was Kingdom Hearts 2, which had an excellent ending. So, Tales of the Abyss receives high praises from me. The graphics are a little dated for a game that’s note quite a year old. Certainly no competition for Final Fantasy XII, but then again Final Fantasy XII lacked something for me, and Abyss has managed to really capture my imagination. I’m also a fan of real time battles in RPGs, Star Ocean: ‘Til the End of Time introduced me to what a real time battle system could be like, and I have to admit that I’ve liked them ever since (with the exception of FF12, which basically played itself). I still like turned based battles, from time to time, but I think real time adds some action to the game with the downfall of taking away some of the strategy.
At any rate, if you like RPGs with an interesting plot and major character development, and you can tolerate some slightly outmoded graphics, then go pick up Tales of the Abyss.