Time journey has lengthy been an idea that JRPGs have beloved taking part in with. Titles like Chrono Set off and Radiant Historia oriented their tales round time-hopping misadventures, whereas video games like Bravely Default and Grandia have discovered recent and attention-grabbing methods to contain time manipulation within the circulation of fight. Cris Tales—the most recent launch from Colombian builders Dream Uncorporated and SYCK—is the newest JRPG to position time journey on the middle of its design, and whereas it generally stumbles in its execution, this stays a memorable and pleasant entry within the style.
Cris Tales follows the journey of a younger orphan woman named Crisbell, whose world is turned the other way up when an lovely little frog with a high hat steals a rose from her. One factor results in one other, and Crisbell learns that she’s a prophesied Time Mage, one who has the ability to understand the previous and future in parallel with the current. Utilizing her newfound powers, Crisbell thus embarks on a journey to avoid wasting the world from the nefarious Time Empress, aided by a band of wierd acquaintances and fellow Time Mages. And a cute frog.
Although the plot isn’t at all times satisfying, the storytelling in Cris Tales manages to persistently discover attention-grabbing methods to play with the time-hopping mechanic. Typically, there are factors within the story the place Crisbell is given the chance to vary the longer term for the higher, however she will be able to’t achieve this for everybody. For instance, one alternative early on permits you to stop rot from finally destroying a few the storefronts in your hometown, however you solely have the means to stop it for one retailer. Which one you select is finally irrelevant to the primary plot, however the ethical dilemma nonetheless creates an attention-grabbing area to pause and suppose. Your frog good friend, Matias, reassures you that there are by no means any ‘proper’ solutions when making such selections, but it’s exhausting to not suppose how such a accountability would weigh on an individual with that form of affect over the timeline.
If you’re out and about within the area, gameplay performs out as you’d count on in a typical JRPG. Roaming small dungeons is bound to web you some goodies, and there’s normally a couple of puzzles that require you to use your time-shifting powers to clear the best way. Perhaps it’s good to plant a seed prior to now so you’ll be able to develop a tree to get a particular fruit. Perhaps it’s good to push a secure below some acid, so it will probably erode sooner or later and offer you entry to its contents. The functions of your time powers are hardly ever stunning, however there are sufficient distinctive cases of puzzles and obstacles that issues seldom get stale over the thirty-or-so hours it takes to see Cris Tales by way of.
Fight has a typical turn-based construction to it, however time as soon as once more performs a giant issue right here. Poison an enemy within the current, and you may both let it chip at them every flip or push them into the longer term and have all of the injury proc without delay. For those who’re having a troublesome time dealing with the ‘grownup’ variant of an enemy, possibly attempt pushing them into the previous and combating their youthful model as an alternative. This time manipulation provides some fascinating wrinkles to fight, and it’s enjoyable to see how encounters progressively turn out to be complicated puzzles because the story progresses and Crisbell provides new time powers to her arsenal.
Along with this, there’s a timing-based factor to each giving and taking injury that pulls a bit from the Paper Mario fight system. A well-timed faucet of a button can see you doing extra injury or negating an incoming strike, though the home windows for this facet of fight really feel just a little bit off. Wind-up animations are sometimes method too brief or outright nonexistent, and whereas the display briefly darkens to tip you off when your window exhibits up, it’s typically a blink-and-you-miss it alternative. Issues are made worse by the truth that some later boss encounters all however require you to be proper on the ball along with your timing, or celebration members might be wiped in a single or two hits. It will get just a little simpler to nail the timing as you play and higher perceive totally different animations, however that is one fragment of fight that feels prefer it might’ve used one other cross in growth.
We really feel it’s additionally necessary to spotlight that Cris Tales can often really feel prefer it’s not correctly respecting the time dedication of the participant. Fight encounters are triggered randomly—and, frustratingly, very often—which may result in irritation once you’re simply making an attempt to cross by way of a given space for a sidequest and must cease each seven seconds for one more run in with the native troublemakers. Issues are worsened by the truth that there’s semi-lengthy loading display earlier than each encounter, and people additional 5 or 6 seconds earlier than each single struggle actually add up over time.
Cris Tales might be notably unforgiving with its save construction, too. You possibly can solely save on the overworld map or at sure save factors in environments, and a celebration wipe in fight signifies that you lose all progress because the final time you saved. At one level, we misplaced just a little over a half hour of progress when an unexpectedly powerful enemy encounter wiped our staff, necessitating a whole reset of our journey by way of a dungeon. The extent to which points corresponding to these will trouble you finally are a matter of private style, however simply keep in mind that there are some parts of Cris Tales that really feel needlessly archaic.
However, Cris Tales feels remarkably recent in its total presentation, which is nothing in need of astounding. The artwork type resembles one thing of a cross between a Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon and a youngsters’s e-book, characterised by sharp geometric shapes and hyper-stylized character designs. Mix this with some well-executed voice appearing and you’ve got an interesting world that completely pulls the participant in. It’s abundantly clear that the builders put lots of time and a focus into getting the presentation simply proper and it pays off, as this is likely one of the most memorable artwork types we’ve seen in a JRPG in fairly a while.
Cris Tales gives up a satisfying tackle basic JRPG tropes whereas sprinkling in some attention-grabbing new gameplay concepts and an unimaginable artwork type. Although some elements of fight might be irritating and the pacing can often really feel prefer it’s losing your time, we’d nonetheless give this one a advice to anybody on the lookout for a cool new RPG for his or her Swap. Cris Tales does simply sufficient to stand proud of the pack and assert itself as a title value including to your library; JRPG aficionados ought to positively give this one a shot.