Tales of Graces F is a port of a Japanese RPG that originally debuted on the Wii for the PlayStation 3, which includes extra hours of gameplay, High Definition graphics, and extra costumes and bonuses. For fans of the Tales series, this game delivers what you would expect in a Tales game, but for newcomers to the series, Tales of Graces F struggles to differentiate itself from other JRPGs in the market.
The game follows the story of Asbel, a boy from royalty who is on the verge of becoming the new king of his hometown, and his friends who meet a strange amnesiac girl on a hill near their hometown. You begin the game as a child and follow the story as an adult seven years later after a series of unfortunate events occur during Asbel’s child years. When you finally become an adult, the story starts to pick up, which became the prime motivator for me to continue playing, but takes a long time to get to the juicy parts of the game. You’ll have to endure about five to eight hours of tediousness before reaching the meat of the story.
But even with its slow start, Tales of Graces F gets better and rewards you for your patience. The story doesn’t become a predictable mess and won’t have you search for a bunch of different items to take down a final boss like in other games (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy). Instead, the story deviates into science fiction, which caught me by surprise, and becomes enjoyable and well worth enduring hours of grinding and repetition.
When in battle, the game does enough to keep the player engaged. Instead of going through dozens of menus and issuing commands to party members like in other RPGs, you control the main characters on a 3D plane and hack and slash away at enemies using a lock on system that focuses on your opponent. You can move left and right, up and down, dodge and sidestep, and rush and evade attacks while performing artes, the game’s version of magic and special abilities, to create different kinds of combos and attacks. You perform different kinds of attacks depending on how you combine the control stick, the attack button, and your pacing between your attacks.
If you keep mashing the attack button, the game will punish you for it, so do not think this is your average hack and slash RPG. Tales veterans should feel right at home with the game’s mechanics while new players will quickly catch on how to perform devastating attacks against foes. The game also includes a four-player co-op mode of sorts where other players can control other members in your party when in battle, which is a lot of fun when playing in higher difficulties.
The game also mixes things up by including a ton of titles that you can equip to party members that grant different kinds of attacks and abilities. You can switch up attacks depending on which title you have equipped and also permanently learn attacks and abilities from a title so you can always have access to them even when you switch between different titles. The game includes a way to automatically switch between titles so that you can ensure that you are always learning new attacks and abilities for your characters, which is great since it prevents going through a bunch of menu’s to switch things up manually.
You can also dualize items, weapons, and armor together to create new items and equipment. Dualizing plays a major part of Tales of Graces F as almost any item and piece of equipment can be combined together to create unique weapons and items that can be used in battle. Part of the fun dualizing items comes from creating recipes from ingredients to create different kinds of healing items. For example, you can combine rice, an ingredient found in the game, with seaweed to create rice balls that can be used to heal your party member’s hit points. Combining different ingredients together to see what you make is a lot of fun, especially when the possibilities are nearly endless.
Graphically, the game looks colorful and sharp on a HD display, but becomes quickly apparent that this game was not made with the PlayStation 3 originally in mind. Some of the graphics look outdated and blurry and lack the detail found in other RPGs. The game’s overall aesthetic also looks awfully similar to other JRPG’s in the market and does little to differentiate itself from the competition.
Still, even with its flaws, Tales of Graces F is an enjoyable JRPG that has something to offer for everyone. If you can look past its JRPG cliché’s and, at times, repetitive gameplay, you’ll still find a story that will push you forward and gameplay that gets better the more hours you invest in the adventure.
Final Score: 8/10