Tales of Arise is a massive RPG adventure, with a rich story and a compelling story-driven progression system that will captivate you for hours on end. The only problem is… well, there is no problem. Until you encounter the very real threat of the enemy known as the “Dakim”, who ascended from the mist to wreak havoc in the world of Aielle.

Tales of Arising is a brand new online series from the creators of Tales of the Abyss, the acclaimed anime series. The series is set to arrive in 2015, but here’s your first look at the characters.

Tales of Arise: Heroes of the Twin Star is a new PC/Mobile strategy game set in a parallel world where the gods and goddesses of Japanese mythology have risen from the sea. Tales of Arise: Heroes of the Twin Star is a real-time strategy (RTS) game that lets players take control of powerful heroes from across Japanese mythology and adventure them in a parallel world based on the popular mythology of Japan.

It’s been five years since Bandai Namco launched Tales of Berseria on PlayStation 4, a significant gap in a schedule that typically sees a Tales game released every two years or so. I spent a few hours with Tales of Arise’s first chapter ahead of the entire game’s release on September 10th, and I can confidently declare that the gap is the finest thing that has happened to the series.

The protagonist of Tales of Arise is amnesiac. A strange young woman enters his life with a goal to overturn the status quo, and the two of them are thrown into a political war between two civilizations. He can’t feel pain, has just one taste, and works with other Dahnans, enslaved people who gather energy through stones lodged in their bodies for a controlling society.


The first 30 minutes of the game are dripping with references to earlier Tales games, particularly Symphonia, Berseria, and Abyss. Arise is partly commemorating the series while also leaving aside some of its now-too-familiar tropes for something more ambitious, at least for the first chapter available in the preview release. 

Every well-known trope has at least one substantial tweak to keep it fresh — and even useful — in the story. The first chapter left me with a slew of questions and an eagerness to get the answers that few games do, especially so early on.

This is true not only for Alphen and Shionne, who may easily become the series’ best characters, but also for the larger story Bandai is portraying. 

The first act of Arise is an uprising story, and a very good one at that. It’s no spoiler to tell that the Dahnans eventually rebel against the lord ruling over Caliglia, who is profiting from their suffering, but the execution (pun intended) is surprisingly strong.


That’s fine!

Although Alphen and Shionne’s stay in Caliglia is brief, the Dahnans’ sadness is felt at every turn. Environmental storytelling and sub-quests all contribute to telling the oppressed’s story, and when combined with some excellent voice acting all around, it’s nearly impossible not to become caught up in the freedom fighters’ quest for liberty. 

It’s this kind of tale and storytelling that elevates Arise above its predecessors as an epic fantasy. 

That move is also noteworthy in another aspect, one that may not be as well received by some. Even without the skits, there’s the possibility to recreate the series’ customary comedic tone — my Alphen donned Shiba Inu ears to the climactic battle with Balseph, Calaglia’s overlord — but there’s no denying Bandai Namco is focused on conveying a more serious story with Arise.

Calaglia is, of course, a fortified area separated from the rest of the world by a physical wall of fire. It’s a large world out there, and my primary fear is whether Arise will be able to retain its opening quality, good tempo, and compelling tale.

Even if part of that fails later, there’s always combat to fall back on.


So far, Arise’s fighting is equally refreshing, and it’s the largest improvement since Tales of Xillia put a greater emphasis on skills. Berseria’s point-based system returns, allowing you to charge your TP and chain skill combos with conventional attacks, but it also introduces new layers of complexity and several unique twists. 

One is interruption attacks, in which a party member jumps in with an extra move after satisfying certain requirements. It’s useful for dealing extra damage and essential for confrontations with specific opponent kinds, including bosses.

Another significant change is healing, which Arise separates from TP and connects to a new pool of points. You’ll use the same pool for other crucial tasks, and while it’s essentially the same as shepherding TP in other games, the new system alters your battle strategy more than you may expect.

That’s before we get into how Aries creates different skill trees based on titles earned in the main game and other activities. It has the potential to be a large system, yet it will still be distributed in simple ways.


The presentation of Arise is, of course, another immediately visible contrast between it and other Tales games. Even with only being limited to the region of fire, sand, and death, Arise is certainly one of the best-looking anime-styled games around. Although several character models lose some detail when the screen is crowded during sequences, this isn’t a major issue.

With its boring, empty, and outdated-looking overworld, Zestiria disappointed, yet Arise has so far avoided that fate. Calaglia’s wastelands are bereft of life, but not of interest. 

Everything from flowing water to ruins, and even the sound of Alphen’s boots or Shionne’s heels, to say nothing of the items you’ll find in the wilds, has been meticulously detailed.

True, most of it is conventional fare, such as gathering materials for cooking or gathering items for a later quest, but exploring always feels like a worthwhile way to pass the time – something that cannot be said of every Tales game.

Tales of Arise surpassed my expectations at practically every turn in roughly three hours. It’s a more full and ambitious product than most of its older siblings, and it may have the foundation to pull it off and land among the greats, despite being daring enough to tackle a new sort of storytelling after two decades.

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