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Tales of Graces f Review

Tales of Graces f Review

For fans of Namco Bandai's Tales series outside of Japan, the wait for Tales of Graces f has been a long time coming. With the last game in the series released nearly three years ago and a on-again-off-again relationship between the fans and the company regarding the fate of the series, Tales of Graces f has been understandably hyped by both the fans of the series and Japanese RPG players alike since its localization reveal early last year. Good things do come to those who wait, however, as Graces f is easily one of the best titles in the series thus far and in the genre this console generation, even if it does still have some faults.

Unlike most JRPGs which throw you right into a storyline with futuristic settings and adult characters, Tales of Graces f begins in the small, rural town of Lhant where the local lord's two young sons, Asbel and Hubert, are your typical boys getting into all sorts of trouble. The two head out to an area called Lhant Hill to find a meadow where it’s said that the flowers bloom all year long. They come across an amnesiac girl who they name Sophie and take her back to Lhant in an attempt to find her family. They end up running across their sickly childhood friend Cheria and even befriend Richard, the young prince of the nearby kingdom of Windor, during their journey. This ties them together but also tears them apart as events that unfold in the opening chapter's final moments proceed to tear them apart leading to a time skip where the game picks up seven years later.

In terms of the series as a whole, this style of story is quite unique as it is the only one thus far which takes place during two distinct times of the lives of its characters. Because of this, it allows Graces f to sidestep the common pitfall most JRPGs fall into as the time skip provides players the opportunity to see the development of the characters from their child years to how they develop as adults seven years later. Compared to games such as Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Symphonia, which dredge up pieces of each character’s individual back stories when deemed necessary, getting to experience them firsthand is what makes all the difference.

Despite the strong premise, there are some issues with Graces f's narrative, however. Often times the player will realize a future plot point ahead of time - especially if they are genre-savvy - and the game will drag on for a bit before said reveal due to instances where two or more dungeons are placed back to back. It results in some unnecessary padding. That isn't to say there aren't parts where the game does provide some genuine surprises, but if you prefer story over character progression you might be a tad disappointed.

Bar none, Graces f's shining moment has to be the newly revised battle system. After multiple instances of the Free Run Linear Motion Battle System that originated in 2005's Tales of the Abyss, Graces f utilizes a new system which eschews the traditional mana bar-based TP system in favour of a new CC (Chain Capacity) system. It takes the form of a number next to each character’s battle portrait that determines how many attacks they can make before they need to recharge. Of course, the more powerful the attack, the more CC it will require to be utilized. But additional CC in the way of equipment and stat upgrades happens at a reasonable pace so the player never feels restricted by the system.

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