Namco Bandai Games Europe is set to be a prominent name in the arena of role-playing games (RPG) at the tale end of the current-generation, with a number of unique and interesting projects coming for high-definition (HD) formats. One such project is the long awaited Tales of Graces F, and with a release set for next month, fans of RPGs certainly don’t have too much longer to wait.
Tales of Graces F tells the tale of a civilisation founded on the use of Eleth, a substance found in a material called Crius that has lead to prosperity for the three kingdoms; Windor, Strata and Fendel. However, as greed runs rampant throughout man, the three kingdoms are unhappy to stand side-by-side, struggling against one another for dominance of the world through harvesting Eleth. Within the Windor town of Lhant resides Asbel, a teenager with ambitions of becoming a knight. Asbel is the son of Baron Aston, and is forced to give up his dream when his father passes away. Asbel is now the Baron of Lhant, and with that comes an adventure unlike any other. In terms of design, Tales of Graces F sits somewhere between the traditional RPG structure (more recently labelled as the ‘JPRG’) and modern, westernised RPGs. While its structure and story delivery leans cleanly towards the familiar, its combat takes on a unique format even for a series famed for its action sequence innovation. Featuring an overworld map through which the players adventure, animated character portraits during story sequences and a separate battle screen, Tales of Graces F may sound much like any other Tales of title, but of course there’s more to it than first appearances reveal. Much more, in fact.
Tales of Graces F uses the Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System used in previous Tales of videogames, however this time around it’s seen a significant overhaul. As is tradition, players will control one of four characters on the battlefield, with the others operating automatically based on preset instructions. Additionally, for the first time, the Style Shift Linear Motion Battle System allows players to change attack style depending on the battle situation.
The core mechanic of the combat is the ‘Chain Capacity’ (CC), a statistic that denotes the number of actions a character can perform which recharges over time. A special meter, the Eleth Gauge, determines use of more exaggerated manoeuvres, and when filled grants the character unlimited CC along with other additional bonuses. This results in a very fast-paced combat sequence wherein players must learn to play to the strengths of their characters while preventing the enemy from engaging their weak spot: leaving a character defenceless without CC while attempting to charge the Eleth Gauge is a risky strategy, but one which can pay dividends if executed perfectly.
Set in a beautiful, brightly coloured world with the usual array on anime inspired cliché characters; Tales of Graces F is promising to deliver everything the fans have been clamouring for since the videogame’s initial launch in Japan back in 2010. And of course, in now typical Namco Bandai Games Europe fashion, those who express their interest early will receive a number of special bonuses in the ‘Day One’ edition of the retail package. At present, Electronic Theatre can see no reason why Tales of fans wouldn’t want to ensure that their name is down for one of these packages while they last, as Tales of Graces F looks set to be the most defining RPG release of the summer.