Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review

tales_of_arise_splash Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review

Tales of Arise is shaping up to be one of the best entries in this beloved JRPG franchise.

  • System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
  • Release Date: September 9, 2021

Tales of ARISE - Launch Trailer

Who it Caters to

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With more than 15 games and over 25 years of history, Tales of is one of the most influential JRPG franchises still alive. Just like Final Fantasy, it always tells different, unconnected stories, so it's never too late to play the latest entry and, if you enjoy it, go down the rabbit hole. If you like long anime role-playing games and convoluted stories, you can't afford missing Tales of Arise!

What to Expect

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In all honesty, Tales of games are known for featuring amazing yet convoluted stories that more often than not blur the line between good and evil. Nevertheless, Tales of Arise is fun to play because of the gameplay variety, not its complexity.

In this game, you will find everything modern single-player JRPGs have (sidequests, crafting, cooking, skill trees, outfits customization, bonding mechanics) plus a wonderful story that starts small but ends with a bang. Oh, and it all comes with very decent graphics!


tales_of_arise_splash Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review
Tales of Arise may be a visually stunning game, especially if you're playing it on PS5, Xbox Series X, or a beefy PC, but it's hard to say it looks much better than other anime games from Bandai Namco (like Scarlet Nexus). Still, we love the character design, especially some DLC content like Shionne's Noble Ash costume and SW-IVY hairpiece. That being said, enemies' design feels lazy at times, with unoriginal monsters and even some reskins, and the same goes for some uninspired maps and landscapes. Thankfully, cutscenes look amazing, and that's great considering a big portion of the story relies on them.

Sound, Music

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If you ever played a Tales of game, then you already know they always come with a killer soundtrack. Tales of Arise is no exception, and if you're a fan of Japanese role-playing games with orchestrated music, you'll have an eargasm with this one. Still, what surprised us the most was the English voice acting.

In JRPGs, there's always at least one cringy voice actor/actress delivering weird-sounding lines and trying to imitate how Japanese actors sound in their high-pitched voices. Unfortunately, Tales of Arise is still guilty of it, but, at least, most characters sound more natural than the average JRPG heroes and villains.


tales_of_arise_splash Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review
Although Tales of Arise allows us to control several players throughout its fantastical adventure, the main protagonists are Shione and Alphen. Shionne is a rebel high-class girl from planet Rena, with a curse that causes excruciating pain to whoever touches her. On the other hand, Alphen—aka Iron Mask—is a slave from planet Dahna who can't feel pain and has no memories. Along with several valuable allies they'll make along the way, the unlikely duo will fight against the 5 lords that oppress planet Dahna and its inhabitants...but sharing the same objective doesn't mean they have much in common.

One of the best things about Tales of Arise is that it starts with a pretty cliché plot, but there are enough twists to keep things interesting until the end. Of course, Tales of games are known for being narrative-heavy adventures with several interconnected stories, so it comes as no surprise. To be fair, there are a few predictable things here and there, but nothing game-breaking from a narrative point of view.

tales_of_arise_splash Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review
Shionne's curse only serves narrative purposes, and it doesn't really affect the gameplay—she uses a gun as her weapon of choice, so it's not like you can run around touching people and monsters (zeugles, as they call them) to electrocute them. In fact, in battle, you only control Alphen, who uses melee attacks in combination with astral artes. Honestly, combat mechanics can be a little complex to understand, especially because there are too many of them, and it's hard to remember when or how to use them correctly. This doesn't mean you can master Tales of Arise's combat; it just means that every time you get used to your combos and learned skills, something new unlocks and forces you to rethink your strategy.

Skill Points (SP), which you gain by defeating enemies and completing quests, can be used to change the characters' moveset and improve their stats. Unlocking the right skills is essential as it allows you to chain more artes, deal more damage, etc. Unfortunately, it's not that easy to farm SP, so if you want to give your characters a perfect build, you'll have to spend a lot of time.

A larger Cure Points (CP) pool will allow for more healing and reviving skills to be used in battle. Outside of combat, you can still heal your party and even random people you find, but sacrificing CP is also the only way to open some secret paths using Alphen and Law's abilities. This makes things interesting because you never know when you may need extra CP, and the only way to recharge is by using items or resting at the campfire/inn.

Tales of Arise is not an open-world game and uses an instanced combat system. Every time you enter a fight, you are forced to move within a small portion of the map, and there are no obstacles between your team and your enemies. It also uses a party system, allowing you to combine Alphen's skills with those of his friends, triggering some devastating combos when the time is right. Outside of combat, you must explore maze-like maps and find treasure chests, sidequests, and item-giving owls (always hidden in the most remote places). If you want to chill, you can spend time gathering resources and looting zeugles, which is helpful once you get access to crafting. Gameplay-wise, Tales of Arise never tries to reinvent the wheel, and veteran JRPG players will get the hang of it in no time.

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Another thing we love about Tales of Arise is that being a narrative-driven adventure, it always finds a way to make you connect with the protagonists. Sure, most JRPG games want you to feel for a protagonist, but all characters in Tales of Arise are likable and important in their own way. Take Zephyr, for example; he's just an idealist dude who leads the resistance and sees Alphen and Shionne as tools, but how can you not care for him once we learn his whole story?

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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Tales of Arise doesn't bring anything new to the JRPG table, but it just proves that one of the most important franchises of the genre is still alive and capable of surprising us with its powerful stories. Also, if you like getting lost in a vast anime JRPG, it won't disappoint you!

Honey's Pros:

  • Compelling characters, and enough plot-twists to make this adventure even more interesting.
  • Most of the time you can run past your enemies, so no need to worry about endless encounters while trying to get from point A to point B.

Honey's Cons:

  • Some "filler" mechanics that most people won't even care exploring.
  • Any mob above your level (even if several foes are just 1 level above you) could easily kill your whole team if you're not careful enough. We love challenging enemies, but some casual player won't be happy about it!

Honey's Final Verdict:

It will take you around 40-50 hours to complete Tales of Arise, but it could easily turn into a 100+ hours gig if you feel like exploring every nook and cranny. Although it starts very slow (as any other JRPG), and the gameplay can get very repetitive, Tales of Arise is definitely one of the best—if not THE best—game in the series. And remember, every entry tells a new story, so it's a great opportunity for newcomers to discover such a fantastic franchise!

Tales of Arise is now available on PC (Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/Y, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

tales_of_arise_splash Tales of Arise - PlayStation 4 Review


Author: Rod Locksley

Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...

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