RPGs are known for their turn-based or live-action combat. Not many mixes these elements together, but there has been a handful that made it work. Cris Tales is one such game, which mixes turn-based combat with this real-time element.
Cris Tales tells the tale of the orphan girl, Crisbell, who has just discovered her powers. Forced into a journey by the actions of the wicked Time Empress, she must now bear fruit to her powers and rewrite the horrid future the Time Empress has cast upon the land. The decisions you make throughout each kingdom in the game will affect its destiny.
The game’s story and characters are quite something. The story may not reel you in and tug on your sleeve to keep you engaged early in the game, but the satisfaction should come knocking on your door at some point. You’ll find characters with strong personalities and plot twists with this one. It’s been a good ride where the optional side quests encourage their completion for the best outcome.
As the newly awakened Time Mage, you’ll have to go from kingdom to kingdom to visit each cathedral. Each kingdom will have a handful of characters that will need your help. Offering them assistance changes their unsightly future and alters the ending you’ll get. These optional side quests sometimes involve going back and forth; however, this back and forth gameplay has never gotten annoyingly terrible.
Past and Future
A unique aspect of Cris Tales is how you view the world from three perspectives: the past, the present, and the future. It also takes it a step further by allowing you to time-shift to either the past or the future while exploring the various cities in the game. The ability isn’t for show, either. It’s a critical part of the game to advance with the story. You’ll need to utilize this power at several points in each kingdom and it’s usually clear when it’s needed; therefore, there are no annoying guessing games to be played.
Combat in the game is turn-based and timing matters the most. Although it may not always be a life or death situation, perfectly timing attacks can help you dish out more damage towards your foes or survive enemy fire longer. It’s an interesting twist to the turn-based combat we know and love; however, it hasn’t been greatly implemented in this game. I’ve found myself mashing the A button more times than I’d like to because of not clearly knowing when some attacks will land. It’s through trial and error that I’ve come to learn when to press the A button to succeed in my endeavor.
Despite the above, there are many skills and an acceptable number of characters to use. Each character’s combat style is different and deserves praise for their different mechanics. You’ll get an idea of the strategic combos you can execute straight from the beginning of the game. Nevertheless, the key to it all lies with the protagonist’s unique ability to change the enemies to their past or future selves. It’s an intriguing concept and the battles aren’t too tough, but there will certainly be some boss battles that’ll require specific methods to overcome.
While battles can be enjoyable, the long loading times are not. The game suffers from long loading times before and after a battle on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. It does not help that enemies are not visible in the overworld. This means you won’t be able to make an attempt at avoiding them—not until you’ve acquired an item midway through the game. It’s a hindrance that’s hopefully patched in a future update of the game.
Your adventure to save the orphanage calls for exploration. You’ll be traveling through kingdoms and meeting new characters along the way. A hint button and a quest log prove useful whenever you may feel like you’ve lost your way. Unfortunately, the lack of labels has been a bit discouraging. Muscle memory will be essential in remembering everywhere and everyone you’ve encountered. Names of the faces or places you’ve forgotten will require you to search from top to bottom in order to find them. There is some good news, though. Areas are small and there aren’t many you can enter in each kingdom, so finding the right place isn’t too inconvenient.
While traversing these kingdoms won’t usually be an issue throughout the entire game, I just wish there was a late-game item that would have made the protagonist move faster. Most of the explorable areas aren’t large so the slow movement speed is normally not an issue. But there’s a chance you may become irritated by the slow movement speed late in the game when you must walk down a long route multiple times.
Graphics and Bugs
Bright and colorful hand-drawn graphics are what to expect in Cris Tales. The character models look fantastic and their battle animations are smooth. The cities are absolutely gorgeous and properly portray the beauty of the game. However, the same cannot be said about the outer world; this is because of how plain it looks with nothing worth catching the eye besides the next destination’s entrance.
The flow of water in certain parts of the game isn’t fluent when finishing its downstream. It instantly vanishes into thin air and feels abnormal. But these graphical abnormalities aren’t the only hard-pressing issue. There are some bugs that are hopefully ironed out at some point. The water flow in a specific city looks out of place and is triggered frequently upon entering. Another is a major spoiler, so it will not be said in this review. But the worst of them all is how the game became unresponsive during a boss battle that I would have rathered avoid replaying at that time.
Soundtrack and Voice Acting
The game has an absolutely stunning soundtrack to accompany its gameplay. Not only that, but the voice acting is phenomenal. You’ll be hearing the marvelous English voice acting throughout the game. I can’t remember a time I had to read dialogue from any of the NPCs besides the shopkeepers. Games ordinarily don’t go all out like this, so it’s been nice to observe it in Cris Tales.
Cris Tales takes you on a fantastic adventure clocking in about 25-30 hours. It’s a colorful game with magnificent voice acting, but it seems to lack that magic touch during combat when it comes to timing attacks. Still, combat is fun and not too challenging with the proper strategy. There’s only one major drawback and it’s the long loading times. It’s now up to Modus Games to leap into the future and find the proper fixes to patch up these long, less desirable loading times.
Cris Tales gets an 8/10.