Among the most notable ones were Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia, often considered alongside Tales of Symphonia to be the best of the best.
Well, the winner of this year’s Celebrating All Things Romantic contest picked a game for me to play & review as his prize – Tales of the Abyss.
Tales of the Abyss is one of those games that comes up whenever people discuss protagonists who are unlikeable at first and change over time, because the main character is a young man named Luke who starts out as an obnoxious, self-centered jerk, but goes through a huge amount of character development as the game continues and ends up as a good person and a genuinely likeable protagonist.
The rest of the cast took a little while to grow on me as well (with the exception of Jade, whom I liked from the start and remains my favorite), but I ended up liking most of them.
Oh, and bonus points for having a mascot that didn’t annoy me. Mieu is actually cute.
The story is interesting and has some pretty intense moments, with a lot of humor throughout the game as well. It has a really well-developed world, with a lot of detailed worldbuilding and many little details I appreciated. There’s also a lot of side content and easily missable optional scenes – which I kind of like, aside from one side quest that let me get partway through even though I’d started it too late to finish it.
All of those little details, with optional scenes and mini-game and lore books about the world, make me think once more about how sometimes it feels like older games have more of a soul than their newer counterparts.
Combat has an interesting mechanic where elemental artes created essentially little elemental fields to appear briefly, and performing an arte within one of those can cause you to perform a more powerful arte instead. That confused me at first, but I liked it once I got used to it.
Now, the ending is a bit ambiguous, and apparently this is intentional. Instead of getting clarification when I looked it up, I discovered a massive debate among fans about it, so I’ll stick with my personal interpretation of the ending.
Anyway, Tales of the Abyss safely secured the #2 spot in my Tales rankings so far. It didn’t beat Symphonia for me, but what can? Tales of the Abyss is an excellent game with a great story, and I was happy to go on such an incredible journey with Luke and the other characters to watch them grow and change.---
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