It’s been almost an entire year since the Nintendo 3DS was launched and during that time, it’s had a wide variety of games published for it to get over its launch drought, this includes many older games being ported over to the Nintendo 3DS, Tales of the Abyss follows this trend, being a direct port from the PlayStation 2. Tales of the Abyss features a great and epic story line just as with any other Tales game. The game features an unlikely group of completely different heroes making for interesting humor to break the tension as the story line progresses with their personalities well-portrayed.
The story starts off with 17-year-old, Luke Fon Fabre, the son of Duke Fon Fabre of the Kimlasca kingdom, who’s confined to living within the family mansion since after his kidnapping seven years ago. One day in the middle of sword fighting training with his Master, Van, a young girl named Tear mysteriously invades the mansion in an attempt to assassinate Van, during her attempt, her contact with Luke leads to an explosion of some sort which ends up with them finding themselves lost alone at night somewhere in the kingdom of Malkuth. On their way to trying to reach back to the capital, they get entangled into several events which lead to tight tensions of war between the two kingdoms and then set out to prevent the war from happening as they are joined by other characters from both kingdoms along the way.
Tales of the Abyss also packs a tremendous amount of content making for a lengthy adventure. Apart from its main quest which will take approximately up to 30 hours to complete on its own, players will find that Abyss’ gigantic world to be filled with numerous towns, cities and other sites with side-quests and other special items. With so much packed in, if you plan on entirely completing Tales of the Abyss, be prepared to burn away at least a total of 65 hours on playtime.
The real aspect where Tales of the Abyss shines the most is the traditional Tales Battle system, rather than the becoming-more-common turn-based battle system, Tales of the Abyss uses a real-time battle system. Upon an encounter with a foe, the game switches into a battlefield where the player can move left and right as well as move around more freely by holding the left-shoulder button. The battle system starts off simple enough for beginners and becomes more complex as the game progresses. Players make basic attacks by pressing A, make special attacks, called Artes by using the B button, blocking by holding the Y button and accessing the menu in battle by pressing X. By using a combination of pushing the circle pad in different directions and performing a basic attack or Arte creates different combos or allows the use of different artes. Initially, beginners will find that the battle system is easy enough to get by with the basics, however, as the game progresses and the player becomes more familiar with the battle system and unlocked new Artes by leveling up, the battles becomes more complex and more enjoyable as they require more than simply attacking but a well executed strategy and combination of all the above.
Apart from a unique battle system, Tales of the Abyss implements a system that’s not in other Tales games, the Field of Fonons system. These are circles of one of six different colors that appear on the battle area during a fight, each color represents an element, by performing a character’s arte with the corresponding element on the circle, characters unleash an even stronger version of the arte to deal more damage.
In the presentation department, Tales of the Abyss does somewhat well (in some areas). The voice acting is pretty well done (better than most english animes) in most cases. Most voices sound realistic and full of proper emotion. Initially, the game’s textures and details are pretty well done with each and every area having a unique look and an extraordinary soundtrack to add a special vibe to it. Visual effects used when you execute special attacks are also pretty good and flashy.
There are a couple negatives for this game, while the game has good vocals, there are times while traveling in the game where the player will be prompted to press ‘Start’ to view a ‘skit’ of the characters having some sort of conversation which often leads to details of each characters’ background and more being revealed. While it sounds interesting, there’s no voice acting done for these skits, which means if you’re interested in finding out some of this information, you will have to read through the blocks of text appearing on the screen, not only that, if you’re the type to read fast, you are not able to scroll down or skip through the next block, the same issue comes into play for people who are slow readers. There’s no option to go back and read it or fast forward a page.
Secondly, the 3D effects are horribly done. With the ability to have 3D Visuals, you would expect something astonishing with such a good game like realistic distancing during battle, instead, the 3D effects do nothing to make the game look better, if not, make it look worse instead. What looked great with the 3D Effect off turns into ragged edges and blurs with the 3D on. One would be much better off with just turning off the 3D effect and enjoying the game as is.
While this game may be a direct port of the PS2 version and it may not make the best use of the console’s 3D effect, looking pass its small cons, Tales of the Abyss is a great JRPG with stunning visuals, a great story, unique battle system and packed in content. If you’re looking for a lengthy adventure game on your 3DS or you’re a fan of the JRPG series, this is a great game to pick up.