Developed by Dreams Incorporated and SYCK and published by Modus Games, Cris Tales is a Colombian JRPG available since July 20 after being postponed to October 2020 on PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Stadia and Switch. The universe of the title carried by its sumptuous graphic choice had seduced many players eager to discover more. If the title is a huge love letter to the JRPG in general and offers an interesting game mechanics, Cris Tales suffers from a weak technique and a compartmentalization due to this tribute.
In Cris Tales, you play as Crisbell, a young orphan living in the city of Narim and taken in by the mother superior of the orphanage there. After meeting Matias, a talking frog. Our budding heroine gains a power allowing her to see the past, present and future at the same time. The game screen will be split into three distinct parts in order to allow you to see these three time phases at the same time. She then meets Wilhem (nicknamed Maestro) who will be her mentor to learn and develop his new powers. A prophetic adventure follows in search of the five cathedrals of the kingdom of Cristallis in order to prepare for the ultimate fight against the great Empress of Time, all sprinkled with a quest for identity for our young orphan with memories linking this antagonist to his own family.
The story we tell you, and the one we see
Nothing very original in this story which throws itself head first into the great classics of the genre… see to excess. Indeed, I had the impression of meeting only amnesic characters in this story. Although it is explained for some by the story of the title, I found it a bit cliché and overused. The title is very wordy and tends to say too much. Not only players accustomed to JRPGs will quickly see the “strings” of the scenario, but even the less initiated will quickly understand the direction taken because of the dialogues which transform the said strings into jute ropes. Beyond that, the title at different times tackles the subjects of discrimination with enough skill to underline it.
During the majority of your progress, your game screen is split into three distinct parts, allowing you to see the place you are visiting and its inhabitants during the past, present and future. Many quests (main and annexes) allow you to alter this future. You have to deal with a choice / consequence principle when sometimes deciding to favor one NPC over another. Some chests and quests require you to go entirely to the past or the future via your amphibian friend. With the simple press of a button, you can indeed send Mathias to one of the two sides of your screen to explore the area. In addition to these various interesting features, I particularly enjoyed seeing what happens to the cities and protagonists that we meet during the adventure.
A classic JRPG that is both interesting, but quickly repetitive
Cris Tales shines with its aesthetics. From the choice of isometric 3D mixed with an anime and colorful look, to its sublime OST, Cris Tales is a visual and sound treat. But once the wonder has passed, what is the title worth in length?
Allow a good twenty hours to overcome Cris Tales. If the big half of the game is satisfactory, the rest gets bogged down in many back and forths to areas already seen and opponents already fought. Cris Tale is a classic, very classic JRPG. Among the six that will make up your team, you will need to build a team of three characters. The game has a turn-based mechanic in which the management of the past, present and future is exploited. Opponents appear on both sides of your team. As during your exploration of the game, the back represents the past, the front the future. During your battles, Crisbell can split space-time and “send” opponents on the side in question to the past or the future.
Double consequence to this: not only do some opponents get older or younger and see their stats and abilities altered through the same means, but also some of your team’s abilities play with this notion of time. You will quickly find combos of attacks from members of your team to be able to best beat your opponents. I found this mechanic very pleasant, being able to play with this space-time and have fun mixing each other’s attacks gives this JRPG a welcome “skill” side.
Especially since Cris Tales is demanding, even difficult for unaccustomed players. Indeed, enemy attacks cost you a lot of HP. Even if the game allows you to parry each of the opponents’ shots via the press of a key at the right time (a mechanic that brings a little rhythm to this game a bit slow), each bad choice or bad management of your attacks can be fraught with consequences. In addition, healing items are expensive, especially tents (allowing full recovery of your health and mana). If you get multiple items from the chests scattered around the explored locations, you’ll likely checkout to complete, and stay alert for their uses (at least initially).
Small personal flat, since considering the great possibility of strategy, the relatively large panel of allies, and the fact that Crisbell, as a heroine of the story, is stuck in your team, I would have found it relevant to ” increase the number of effective members in said team to four. I also found boss fights to be much simpler and less interesting than random fights, which is probably due to a more scripted aspect of them.
You will have time to discover all the intricacies of the Cris Tales combat system, because you will have combat. Indeed the title is very generous in terms of random clashes, some will even think that there are too many. Personally, it was not so much the amount of clashes as the waiting time to start them that bothered me.
Big technical issues
Because Cris Tales has long loading times, very long. On Switch, I was able to wait up to 15 seconds between the start of the load announcing a fight, and the start of it. Add to that the large number of random fights mentioned above and you will understand the frustration felt and the feeling of slowness of the title. The game also tends to “row” during combat or when exploring places. Already the little Crisbell is not the fastest when moving, the fact of being slowed down during the game is very annoying. Without these problems, the game ends up not being fun. We breathe when a confrontation takes place, and we spend the dialogues too lengthy for “things to progress.” “
Cris Tales spoils its charm in a set of technical flaws that do not make you want to continue. I sincerely hope that a patch will reduce or even correct all these problems. If this is the case, it is obvious that your adventure in Cris Tales will be much more pleasant, even memorable. Without being extraordinary, this title announces a promising future for the two independent studios which will be able, I hope, to offer us a more solid and ambitious title in the future. Even if Cris Tales has an enchanting graphic style, a sympathetic combat system and a more than appreciable OST, the title fishes by its technique. The more the hours of play pass, the more it becomes difficult to enjoy it due to too many loading times, a sometimes soft scenario, multiple futile round trips, and a general slowness of the title.