It’s taken years, 20 long years for gamers who have been there from the start, but finally Tales of Arise has taken a step forward.
Before doing this review I read that in less than a week of being released on September 10th, Tales of Arise had sold over one million copies - making it the fastest-selling entry in the long-running series.
For those of you who might not know, the Tales Series dates all the way back to the original game - Tales of Phantasia - which was released on December 15, 1995, on the Super Famicom (nostalgia alert!) which was known to you and I when it arrived on these shores as the Super Nintendo.
Fast forward 26 years and the hotly anticipated Tales of Arise has landed on the next generation of consoles promising to breathe new life into Bandai Namco’s action role-playing game.
Somewhat staggeringly this is the 17th main entry in the Tales Series. But fans have been made to wait for it after it was delayed a year due to “internal quality issues” and the ability to launch the game on more platforms.
As a big Japanese hit, that marketplace is understandably usually the first to get Tales games. But for the first time in the series Tales Arise had a simultaneous worldwide launch earlier this month.
Not everyone will be aware of the series so let me fill you in. The game follows a man and a woman from the opposing worlds of Dahna and Rena and their journey to end the Renans' oppression of the Dahnan people.
The game is built using Unreal Engine 4 and as continues to be one of the standard bearers for action role-playing game.
The basic framework of the Tales battle system - known as the Linear Motion Battle System - is still in place but in Arise there is a big focus on evading and countering. According to reports the developers took inspiration from the 2009 entry in the series, Tales of Graces, which was rightly praised for its combat.
The big thing to state early on is that there is no multiplayer mode in Arise. Instead the development team decided to focus on the interactions between characters in combat, as well as the addition of the "Boost Strike" feature which allows multiple party members to perform destructive attacks together under certain conditions.
Aesthetically Arise is jaw-droppingly stunning with graphics which truly make the game world unforgettable.
The added focus on the characters is clear for gamers whether you are a series veteran or new to Tales games. The way they interact, make fun of one another and converse is engrossing and beautifully done.
Action is fast, thrilling and never dull with battles having you on the edge of your seat as you look to use your character’s unique role and abilities to your advantage.
I’m an old hand when it comes to Tales games. But I can imagine newbies may struggle - at first - to get to grips with the combat which can at times be so frenetic it has the potential to overwhelm.
The story is great but a touch confused at times too.
Not only did Tales of Arise come with the pressure of rediscovering the series’s je ne sais quoi, it also had to carry a certain weight of expectation given it is the first major original JRPG on new consoles.
It is perhaps the game’s crowning achievement that it manages to do both, and sets a benchmark for other titles which they will have to go some to match.