Cris Tales was born as a tribute to the classic JRPGs that have one of their greatest strengths in time travel. How has it turned out to be in the end? Without meaning an absolutely recommendable title, it does have ingredients that could interest fans of the genre. I explain everything to you in this analysis.
Make a good JRPG it is not easy at all. You have to come up with a good story that sticks to the end, with characters and situations (preferably memorable). It is also important to have a good exploration and a combat system that is as interesting as it is addictive. Of course, all this accompanied by a balance in the progression, with a good number of hours of play and a rhythm that encourages you to continue playing.
Cris Tales had the intention of emulating the reputed genre of the Japanese role, but unfortunately it has been left half and does not fulfill some of the aspects that I commented previously. Aside from the artistic section, which is simply a genius, and a very inspired time travel system, I think that as an RPG it is quite flat. And it’s a shame. The Colombian developer Dreams Uncorporated It is noticeable to have deposited a lot of passion, drinking from classics of the genre such as Persona or Paper Mario, but he has not managed to finish a work that remains a magnificent idea without an outstanding execution.
What has happened? Basically, I detect four problems. The narrative is not powerful enough to catch, the exploration is less than stimulating as it is highly guided, the fighting feels somewhat lacking in pace, and what has bothered me the most, there are glitches with frustrating loading screens. It is a game that in the preview made me presage the best, but in the long run the title offers inconsistencies However, they should definitely not take you away from him if you are a fan of random and turn-based combat. Read on to explain the pros and cons that you might encounter.
Playing with time
Cris Tales is the typical epic of good against evil. There is nothing wrong with that. Great sagas like Dragon Quest have relied on this resource with wonderful results. In this case, we put ourselves in the place of Crisbell, a time magician with the ability to see both the present and the future, who will have to face the Empress of the Ages, a Machiavellian being with the intention of plunging the world into a cataclysm. A lot of fantasy in an adventure that we will not do alone, but alongside a series of allies who will join our cause.
I won’t say that the plot is misguided, but it doesn’t stand out as a tribute to the JRPG genre either. There are quite a few conversations, not a few characters, some exciting situations … but I would be lying if I have missed a greater effort to get into the evil conspiracy that the narrative raises. At least I have to admit that the art used for the dialogues is sublime and that also the game is fully translated into Spanish (with more than correct voices in English).
The way to tell the story is through a fairly guided advance, in which you move through a world map It doesn’t offer too many exploration possibilities either. Usually everything consists of going to visit a key character, get a mission and visit a location or dungeon until you face some type of boss. I have missed that freedom that other titles in the genre provide, but at least such a corseted design serves to create a certain balance when it comes to raising levels of experience.
I think more attention could have been paid to user experienceAnd yes, you will have to grind (at least a little). However, the fights will not be infrequent, so you do not need to worry too much in this regard. Is about random encounters, very classic style, and I must warn you that they may be more frequent and numerous than you expect. Nothing to object to this, it is not bad in itself. However, this approach is highly impaired by some too long and frequent charging times (when you enter and exit the fighting), as well as a combative system not as refined and fluid as I would have liked.
Today, even video games as classic as Dragon Quest XI incorporate options to speed up skirmishes. Cris Tales relies so much on his target, the classic JRPG player, that he doesn’t care too much about it. Here the tolerance of each user comes into play, but it is something you should consider. So in the end all these elements make the experience not optimal and that when you have a few fights you begin to notice that everything is a bit uphill. To this is added that there is no autosave, and that the way to save is not the clearest that exists.
Overall, I think more attention could have been paid to user experience (those Quality of Life features that are so abundant today). For example, the combat system relies on turn-based attacks, with an attack and defense bonus when you press the button at the right moment: very much in the style of Paper Mario: The Origami King, for example. The game goes black for a fraction of a second to indicate the optimal moment, but it is a questionable design decision. There is hardly any preparation or reaction time. It is not intuitive on many occasions, and that is in the end something that hurts a combat system that, on the other hand, has important points in its favor.
Crisbell possesses some interesting powers like Chronmagic, which consist of be able to access the past and the future. This has implications for both exploration and battles. For example, imagine that you poison an enemy and then send him to the future: he will take damage from the accelerated passage of time and will most likely die in a single turn. In addition, each enemy has a version depending on whether he is in the past, present or future, leading to a very welcome combat depth. In this way, you can turn a wolf into its puppy version and dispatch it at will, or take a robot to a future where its parts will have deteriorated.
The travel system between past, present and future is very inspired and is the best of the game, without a doubt. In particular, I find the way the screen is divided into three stripes (past, present and future) a technical and artistic feat. Thus, you can see in real time how scenes and characters change between eras. For example, there is a place where you can see how floods and pollution wreak havoc in a future age. You will also have situations in which if you help certain characters, you will be able to be aware of how their lives change.
All of this is tremendously satisfying, although in the long run I have felt the system feel somewhat wasted. Since it is an identity key of Cris Tales, I consider that temporary travel could have been exploited more, both in battles and in exploration. I mean above all that there are not too many puzzles to solve, and also the ability to move in the past and the future is done through a small frog (Matías) with a very limited ability to move.
But removing the little fluidity of the fighting and these limitations in the exploration, we are before a game with very clear JRPG references that the creators themselves summarize in games like Final Fantasy VI, Valkyrie Profile, Bravely Default or Chrono Trigger. In particular, the game presents some narrative ramifications that depend on certain secondary activities. There are not too many, but there are enough to help a progression that is also based on get new skills and equipment. All this lasts around 25-30 hours, although a completist approach could give us some additional game time.
In visual matters it is a wonderful gameBut what was said, the best thing about Cris Tales is its artistic section, and it is not a little incentive to play it if you have been fascinated by the images you have seen so far. The game has small and occasional slowdowns that overshadow the result, but visually it is a wonderful game. The locations are beautiful and the characters have a lot of charisma in their designs, also on the part of the animations. It is inspired by the culture of Colombia, with a lot of color and tones that tend to be striking. In fact, the protagonist Crisbell is a kind of reinterpretation of the Disney princess, but in a Colombian version.
I have also had good impressions with the soundtrack, very ambient during the exploration, and very fierce when the fighting appears. In this regard, it has reminded me of the great RPGs of the nineties, which was one of the intentions that developers were pursuing. With this base, I would have wanted a better success in terms of enjoyment and mechanics, since for everything else the playable idea is powerful and truly innovative. A title that could have reached more, but still can be an alternative for those who can not miss any JRPG-style game.