Cris Tales PlayStation 4 Review

Cris Tales is a game that fans of the genre should check out themselves, as it tries to offer a different approach to the genre.

By RON, Posted 27 Jul 2021

The world of AAA games and RPGs is vastly dominated by Japan and the US. That’s why the release of a Colombian JRPG-inspired game comes as a surprise and a good one for that matter. Such is the case of Cris Tales, an indie RPG heavily rooted in staples of the genre such as the Final Fantasy series, the Mana series, or Chrono Trigger. A JRPG without the J? Is this game any good? Let’s find out.


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In Cris Tales, we as play Crisbell, a curious young orphan living in Narim. Crispell lives in an orphanage alongside other orphans under the supervision of Mother Superior. One day, a frog steals Crisbell’s rose and, much a la Alice in Wonderland, she goes after the animal, who happens to be a fantastic being. This frog not only talks but has a name, Matias, and will become Crisbell’s faithful companion.

Matias is also a mentor and shows Crisbell that she has magical powers over time. However, before she can understand the nature of her abilities, the town is attacked by minions of the Empress of the Ages, led by the bloodthirsty Volcano Sisters. In the heat of battle, Crisbell is joined by Cristopher, a traveling warrior, as well as Willhelm, an experienced time magician who takes Crisbell as his ward to keep the future from turning into a mess, and in the process study Crisbell's unique nature.

Cris Tales has a strong influence on the traditional JRPGs, and it shows, since the confrontations arise randomly, and we will fight in turns with no time limit. Cris moves in 2.9D environments, that is, it will normally be lateral displacement, but there is a moment where depth allows us to go deeper into certain areas. But despite being a game made in 2020 Cris Tales faces major problems that shouldn’t be present in this day and age, such as loading screens for any given random encounter. And albeit there can be only a couple of seconds long is enough to break immersion and it damages the game severely.


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The main unique element to Cris Tales is the way it manages time. In this sense, much like Dr. Manhattan, Cris can experience past, present, and future simultaneously. For example, in the first cathedral in the game, modeled after an actual Colombian cathedral, Crisbell can see the past, present, and future all at the same time in a triple division of the screen. It is not about an "absolute" future, but about "possibilities". Our actions will affect the world directly, and we can change what we see if we take the right steps.

This is better explained in an early moment in the adventure when we will have to decide which house to save from destruction by a plague, and by doing so, the house will no longer be destroyed, reinforcing that feeling of being able to modify the near future. To see the past, present, and future, the player does not have to do anything: after visiting the altar, the screen is divided into three triangular areas: the left reveals the past, the center the present and the right part, the future. Thus, if we walk in front of a character, we can see how they were when they were young when we move and see them in the center what they are like "now", and when they are located to the right, how they will be in the future or even if they died. This applies to everything: the environment itself (we can see a field with newly planted, grown, or razed roses), objects such as trees or chests, or even dialogues between characters that are only visible at one time and that will provide us with information valuable.


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But this is not limited only to the overworld, but to combat itself. Cris can manipulate time during combat to very interesting and dynamic strategies. Crisbell will be able to invoke a crystal of the past or a crystal of the future, which will send the enemy to that moment in time to our advantage. For instance, we can create weaknesses, such as if we throw water on an impenetrable shield and we send it into the future. In the present time, the shield will be soaked, but in the future, the shield will be rusty. The correct use of time gives the combats a strategic element and it will be necessary to plan the toughest confrontations properly because if we opt for the simple and plain exchange of blows, we will discover to our regret that the enemies are like sponges to which we will inflict little damage.

Another ability during combat is synchronization, which allows the player to borrow the power of a partner to do devastating damage. A rather forgotten mechanic nowadays makes its way back in Cris Tales, that of reducing the damage taken by pressing X right on a queue or inflicting extra damage by pressing the same button at the right time.

Now for the game’s world, the Crystallis region is made up of several cities and towns that we will visit as we advance in our history and that, in addition to fulfilling the typical functions of rest and provisioning, these places offer both story missions and secondary missions that will impact their future based on our decisions and the tasks that we decide to carry out or not.


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Another nod to games of a bygone era is the lack of automatic saves or the ability to save anytime anywhere, instead, Cris must reach a save point to save our progress. This adds a sense of danger while facing enemies or venturing into dungeons without the necessary caution. This shouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that the game makes us of unnecessary grinding, and leveling up is its bread and butter.

For some, the exploration factor can be a bit pedantic, but there are two main reasons why in this game you will not get bored:

First, as mentioned above, we can see the present, past, and future of each site, and we can do it at the same time; the screen is divided into three by a central triangle, which is the present and has the future on the right and the past on the left. That is to say, at all times we can be curious to know what the past was like and what the future will be like, and, if we change something to the future, what.

And, secondly, for its beautiful settings. The landscapes and sceneries of the entire installment, inspired by real places in Colombia, are hand-drawn with great care. That, mixed with beautifully designed music, gives you a reason to explore and get lost in the vast world of Cristallys.

It is a Latin-American game, but it doesn’t have to be played in Spanish. The game has been translated to a whopping 10 languages. Spanish (Latin-American and Castilian), English, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Italian, Korean, and Russian.



 

Despite his good ideas, Cris Tales carries some classic defects of the genre, which, if they had been approached differently, might have contributed to culminating an even fresher, more accessible, and entertaining game. Having to fight hard enough enemies for half an hour to level up, constant grinding, and sometimes unfair encounters don’t help at all, especially in the early stages of the game.

When all is said and done, Cris Tales is a game that fans of the genre should check out themselves, as it tries to offer a different approach to the genre while still giving constant nods to the games it is so clearly inspired by.
 

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
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General Information

Cris Tales

70/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Modus Games, Maximum Games, Mirenad
Developer(s): Dreams Uncorporated, SYCK, Poppy Works
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Japanese, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2021-07-20

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