The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Tales of Graces f follows the story of Asbel, his childhood friends,
and a mysterious amnesiac girl he found on a hill near his hometown. You
begin the game as a child, and after a terrible incident which will
remain vague in the interest of avoiding spoilers, Asbel jumps forward
seven years to pick up the story as a young adult, living with his
choices. It’s this jump forward in time where the story begins to get
interesting, but it takes about eight monotonous hours of gameplay to
Thankfully, the story never becomes a journey to collect seven parts of a
crystal to defeat an evil monster or anything like that. Later in the
game it even begins to dip heavily into science fiction. I wasn’t
expecting this, but I happily accepted it.
The world feels small compared to other RPGs, which is both a blessing
and a burden. On one hand, there are plenty of opportunities to learn
and appreciate the world and its fictional cultures. On the other hand,
you are visiting the same locations frequently to perform simple tasks
that involve no more than talking to specific people.
The combat feels similar to other Tales titles with its lock-on mechanic
that limits 3D movement. You have your standard base attack, but mostly
you will use special attacks that are activated by holding the left
stick in a certain direction and pressing a face button. Graces is all
about identifying enemy weaknesses and exploiting them. You can easily
check what enemies are weakest against, and even change your special
attacks mid-battle to compensate if needed. You do have some limited
options in controlling your partners – for example, the ability to set a
character to focus exclusively on healing abilities – but for the most
part they work on their own.
Along with the standard equipment and weapon collection RPG tropes, you
can also gather hundreds of titles for all of the characters. These
titles offer assorted bonuses and sometimes even new attacks that can be
unlocked over time as they are equipped. You can deal with the titles
manually or, thankfully, have the game intermittently change them out
Like many Japanese RPGs, Tales of Grace f takes 10-15 hours before it
starts getting good. It moves slowly and never reaches a level of pacing
beyond walking from point A to B. I found myself snapping my fingers at
the screen telling these people to move it along while they explained
the meaning of friendship and how much they care about each other with
melodramatic dialogue. I like these characters, and I can sympathize
with their plight, but there is never a sense of urgency in their
There is something here for you if you’re willing to stick it out, but
you have to commit without rolling your eyes at all the melodrama to
truly appreciate it.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.