Tales of the Abyss Review

By Lauren Alessandra on December 5, 2011

Tales fans in the West have been waiting a while for the next title in the series and after the disappointment of seeing another Tales title release only in Japan, they've only become more restless. Showing a bit of remorse, Namco Bandai has produced a remake of one of the more notable games in the Tales series, Tales of the Abyss. This classic originally appeared on the PlayStation 2 in 2006 as the series' eighth title and has made an interesting transition from 2-D to 3-D on the Nintendo 3DS. Although the story is still the same, there are many things that set this remake aside from its PlayStation beginnings, but some of these alterations might be a bit too hard to swallow for die hard fans of the original.

Abyss follows the story of a young prince named Luke Fon Fabre who has spent a good chunk of his life behind the walls of a massive mansion. This lleaves him both naive to the world outside, but also fairly spoilt. After an incident within the mansion, Luke finds himself in a foreign land following the footsteps of a mysterious woman named Tear. Along the way he meets plenty of new friends and enemies who not only take him further and further from his home, but also further from the spoilt prince he once was.

There are plenty of twists and turns within this tale which makes it a very exciting one to follow and Luke's growth as a character is a fascinating one. Unfortunately though, it takes fairly long for people unfamiliar with Abyss to warm up to Luke as his personality is extremely unpleasant. So, if you can get past his lewd behavior, you may find yourself 30 hours in wondering what the heck is going to happen next.

Compared to the previous Tales titles of its time, Abyss makes a few changes as far as gameplay is concerned. First of all, titles, although they are still around, do not act the same way in Abyss as they do in other titles. By earning titles, a character's growth is not affected. Instead, titles can help earn you special offers like a free night's stay at the local inn or health regen boosts. Certain titles are given out after certain cut scenes, but there are a bunch which are hidden and can only really be found by using a guide of some sort. Since they don't offer much as far as leveling up is concerned, there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to really go and get them unless you are a completist.

The "˜Ex Gems' from Tales of Symphonia have been cast out this time and "˜Capacity Cores' have taken their place. There are 30 types of capacity core in all which offer unique abilities to characters. Depending on what your character's "role" is, you may find yourself trading the cores around a bit. If you use them enough, you can unlock AD skills which give characters passive in-battle effects which you may turn on and off. There are a bunch of AD skills which could help you beat bosses with ease such as "˜Free Run' which allows players to move all the way around the battle screen in order to trick enemies. However, many newcomers to the series might find using capacity cores to be a bit too overwhelming. Although it's not nearly as effective, players can instead choose to frantically run around the screen hacking and slashing.There are also the elemental "field of fonons" attacks which are introduced hours into the title. These are secondary attacks which can be latched on to AD skills making for even more powerful attacks that have a lovely hint of fire/water/etc attached. There are also the mystic artes which are the characters' special attacks dealing even damage. Fon slot chambers can be attached to techniques in order to add battle effects such as an upgraded AP and lower TP cost. These are both fairly easy to use in battle, although you may want to stick to your already habitual fighting style.

As far as weapons are concerned, every thing's pretty standard; swords, spears, bows, and staffs. At first you're given a fairly simplistic set of armor with no accessories, but as you earn money from battles and shop around a bit, you'll quickly find yourself completely equipped. Potions come in different types of gels. Depending on what type of gel, it can heal certain things. For instance, apple gels can heal you at 30 percent a pop.

In case you run out of money or are in need of certain items, there are "˜Search Points' which are vibrantly colored towers planted in certain areas on the maps. By standing in the middle of them, you can pick up a bunch of different items. Each of these towers refresh themselves each time you enter/exit a different location offering a ton of free items.

Cooking can also offer you health in case you're in a pinch and have run out of gels to use. They will cure your status effects and heal your characters post battle. However, you don't have a ton of recipes right off the bat so you will need to get them from random townspeople and side-quests. If you use one recipe over and over again, you will eventually master the recipe. While this is something that offers a ton more content, cooking is something that can be forgotten fairly easily, but it is good to have them just in case especially since most of the save points do not heal you.

After each battle, your performance will then be graded. Getting a higher grade means more points to use in order to upgrade certain skills. If you would like a higher grade, you'll have to complete special objectives in-battle like beating an enemy with full health or using mystic artes. Most of these are not very apparent so using a guide would be the only way of ensuring that you will get the most points from these gradings.Now the things that sets aside the PlayStation 2 version and the Nintendo 3DS reside mostly in presentation. Firstly, you have the obvious 3-D element added which unfortunately does not do much in order to help Tales of the Abyss look any better. Really it makes the characters rather difficult to see and completely destroys the way the environment looks. In battles, the 3-D does add a bit of depth, but it's best to just stick to the 2-D version of the game which looks a ton better than even the PS2 version. The character models are all very detailed and crisp and the environments are more vibrantly colored offering a ton more detail.

Loading times can still be a bit of a nuisance this time around. Especially when going from place to place. There's still some lag within cutscenes as well but this has improved a bit from the PS2 version. Although the "˜healing' save points are scarce in order to promote inventory management, it still can get a bit tiresome when you don't want to use up your items and there's no healing save point in sight.

There are definitely a ton of things that make Tales of the Abyss replayable. For example, there is a "˜New Game+" which players can go back and pick up items they had missed, upgrade their skills, and complete all of the side quests. However, In the PS2 version there was a co-op mode which offered quite a bit of replayability, but it's non-existent in the Nintendo 3DS version being that the handheld is only made for one person, but this definitely takes out a bit of fun in playing the game along side a friend.

Final Thoughts

The Nintendo 3DS version of Tales of the Abyss is still worth playing for those who are new to the series or perhaps have traded in their PS2's in favor of a next gen console. But for the die hard fans, this may be one to step away from. This version offers few new elements aside from the added 3-D element and, to be fair, it is not the apology fans need from Namco right now. That's not to say that Abyss is a bad game; it's just one that fans shouldn't feel like they're missing out on.

Fantastic story that keeps you gripped throughout.
Interesting gameplay which should be a nice change for JRPG fans not familiar with the series.
There’s a ton of content which makes this game highly replayable.
There isn’t really anything new this time around compared to the PS2 version.
The 3-D version suffers a lot graphics-wise making it nearly impossible to play.
Loading times can be a bit of a nuisance.
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