Thoughts on Tales of Graces f
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Thoughts on Tales of Graces f
Jan 20th, 2013
This contains spoilers.
I just got finished with my play through and feel like there are some good and bad things about the game. My total playtime was 51:51 on the Childhood, Adulthood, and Legacies and Lineages without veering off to do any side quests (there might have been few extra things done inadvertently).
Character development is the centerpiece of all Tales games. This title is unique in that it begins when the main cast are children. The general consensus I get from reviews is that it is terrible. I have a more optimistic view of this segment of the game. It is fast, I only recall spending about 4 hours on it. It accomplishes a lot in that short period of time. You get the whole backstory for Asbel, Cheria, Hubbert, and Richard. The story in the early part of the game is largely driven by what is going on with the characters, which is something that can not always be said for the main arc, unfortunately. The downside to this segment is the combat, which is greatly hindered by the fact that you can only use basic melee attacks. It does serve as a satisfactory introduction to the changes in the battle system.
My biggest gripe with the main arc is that the story sometimes becomes disjointed and almost nonexistent. Forget about the cliche themes, because they are an inherent part of the genre and fit well with the overall theme. Whereas in most of the mothership titles the story is driven by the goals of the characters or the situations they find themselves in and most of the locations you visit will alter the situation in some way, Graces has a lot of story development based on what feels like fetch quests at times. You might wander aimlessly to defeat a certain amount of monsters, need to acquire an item, or in one part of the story exiled into finding out what purpose Asbel can find for himself. This is made up for by some outstanding characters, such as Captain Malik, who really draws circles around most of the other party members in terms of his humanity. Ironically enough, some of the most human moments of the adventure include Sophie, who makes a few interesting transformations as the story goes on.
In terms of the villain, for the first 20-25 hours it is not quite clear what the motivation behind Richard's actions are. It's quite obvious something has possessed him, but it is irritating that they never tell you what it is or why they are doing it. This game is like the opposite of Vesperia, which was full of intrigue during the beginning and middle of the game and slowly fell apart with its abrupt conclusion. The beginning and middle of Graces feels dull and it really picks up once you learn the developments surrounding the plot in the final 10-15 hours of the main arc. Once it is discovered that Lambda is not the root of all evil and had been mistreated in his upbringing, it is natural to relate it to someone with failed potential. It also made me more enthusiastic about finding out more about the past and its implications on the story.
The ending to the main arc is predictable, but following the credits you are treated to cutscene with an intriguing interaction in what appears to be the future. Luckily, this is all explained in the Legacies and Lineages portion of the game. This builds off all of the story arcs that were present at the end of the main arc and presents the world with a new threat, one that ties in very well with everything that has happened. Some of the best character interactions take place in this section, as well as some of the best parts of the battle system. The battle system in general is fantastic. I can't say I wish they would continue to use this for all future titles because I grew incredibly fond of the original system, but it really is an improvement in some ways. If not for questionable AI and some strange difficulty jumps throughout the game, it would be the best battle system of the series. It makes the duller parts of the adventure worth playing through.
Overall, I would give it an 8.1 out of 10. It is one of the weaker titles in the series, but definitely worth playing. There are some hidden gems in this adventure, providing some memorable characters and interactions that rank high in the series. The art style is pretty, but I wish they did more than upscale the graphics from the Wii version. Some parts of the game just look so much better than others. The music is generic for the genre, but it suits the mood of the game well. There are some themes that stand out, but not many that rank among the best of the series.
For anyone who has played this game, were your experiences similar or different to mine? And in what way? I know I left some stuff out, but I think the emphasis of the series is on the characters and the battle system.
Jan 22nd, 2013
I'll keep comments right now to just the whole combat system because I haven't even started the future arc yet (I need to wait until my bro comes home for a weekend as we've been playing mostly together).
This games title system is both a blessing and a goddamn curse. The game is consumed by these titles and there was always one more you wanted to grind to it's crazy. Without new game plus you probably would be grinding for eternity just to pull it off. Picking the right titles to grind makes a huge difference. I as Asbel focused a ton on CC recovery along with stat ups. My little bro played Hubert (funny thing is we have the same hair styles as both these bro in a way), and with Hubert he focused on a good number of artes and CC. The CC metre is great and changes the flow of combat, and healing is very strong in this game. No longer having to juggle orange gels is fantastic. For 90% of the game my team was Asbel/Hubert/Sophie/Cheria and I rarely needed to pause to pull out gells if you balance the playstyle right.
I was told to beat the game and then go ng+ as the future arc is a ton more grinding, which I wasn't fond of. NG+ is interesting if you go like me, 10x and 2x exp, inherit titles (but no skills), and there is one where if you already mastered a title in a previous game you level up your titles quicker (fantastic). I beat the game in 40 hours and NG+ will be about 10. NG+ has it's own sort of difficulty in that you have more titles but if you're me you're rushing through the game since you know how to do everything. With having access to a ton of skills in NG+ I ended up giving Sophie and Cheria all their top healing skills so I could rejuvenate as necessary. Also you can move faster as a NG+ ability it's good and worth doing if you missed a few sidequests.
I'll add more later regarding story but yeah another great Tales game.
Jan 22nd, 2013
Yeah, no Orange Gels was the best part of the new combat system. I played the game mostly with Asbel / Malik / Sophie / Cheria, substituting Hubbert in for Malik when I needed to go all out with recovery. I'm usually a sucker for playing with the generic close combat cast member and then picking my favorite characters to fit around. I found Malik also provided some much needed cover at times. When I would have Hubbert, sometimes they would all be running or casting healing arts while I was taking attacks from multiple enemies. I probably didn't play around with the preset controls enough, but I found myself needing to request arts more than in past Tales games.
Hourglass and Arcane Bottles were my friend in a lot of the big boss battles. The eleth gauge fills up for them much faster. Towards the end of future arc I got strategic with my timing and would use Hourglass during their eleth breaks to prevent some of the ridiculously overpowered assaults from wiping me out. The final boss in future arc is nuts with those, though the hardest boss I found was the second to last one in future arc. It could have had something to do with being under leveled. It really is a double edge sword because when my eleth gauge fills up it is sweet chaining arts and then finishing it with an assault.
Hearing what you said, it seems like NG+ before future arc is the way to go. I had several hours of difficult battles in the early portion of future arc where I would need to backtrack to the beginning of the dungeon to restock all of my items from the shuttle. The difficulty level after the main game increases, but you'll see when you get a chance to play future arc you get some sweet new tools to balance it out.
Putting everything together, I would say it has more pros than cons (making it one of the best battle systems in the series), but the cons are present enough not to make me want this system in future titles.
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