Cris Tales is a turn-based RPG, developed by Dreams Uncorporated, SYCK, and Poppy Works. It was then published by Modus Games and Maximum Games, and Mirenad.
*Disclaimer: This review may contain a spoiler or two, depending if you consider some things a spoiler. But it also includes rage and some strong language. So be warned.
When you first start the game, you’re met with a beautiful opening cutscene, showcasing all the characters in the game, and Cris. You know, typical RPG fashion. You’ll then see the beautiful main menu and it’s amazing music. Sit there for however long you like. But then you click the “New Game” option…and without any rhyme or reason, you’re tossed right into combat. I sat there going “wait did I hit a button and skip something?”. So I turned the game off, booted it back up, and found out, no I didn’t skip anything. It’s meant to be like that.
So after this abrupt opening tutorial battle, you’re then introduced to Cris. A simple girl who is trimming roses for Mother Superior, and a frog happens to steal a rose. So you tell Mother Superior (no she’s not a nun), and chase after this frog through town. Suddenly you have a vision of the future and see your hometown being destroyed! What does this mean? How could this happen? Are you just dreaming? The story itself was actually quite well written. As Cris, you travel the land with all of your teammates, looking to develop your time travel powers, to find ways to save the world and stop the evil Time Empress! So in typical JRPG fashion, you find yourself in a few towns on your journey, and end up helping the people in every town, because you just can’t help yourself! I will say though, the game has a few stereotypical moments of “I’m almost done!”, just for it to be like “Ahhh, no you’re not!”. I mean some games do that really well. But to be honest, this one did not. The couple times it did it, I let out a groan of disappointment. Mostly for other reasons I’ll get into later.
As for the characters, there’s some pretty good development in them. My favourite would have to be a party member called JKR-371. He’s an android, who has lived for over three thousand years. He mentions time and time again how he doesn’t care about people or memories, because time to him is inconsequential, and he’s just around to help preserve history. But the adventures with the party really help him realize that there’s more to life than just watching from afar. Though there’s such a cast of characters, I guarantee you’ll find someone you like. Especially with all the silly writing. The game oozes charm with its writing, let me tell you. Plus it’s ALL fully voiced!
Then what’s a JRPG without dungeon crawling and combat! Right!? Cris Tales takes heavy influence from Super Mario RPG on its combat system. With that I mean it’s an active system, where you can’t just let your eyes glaze over and you pick stuff off the menu, then take a short nap while it all plays out. You actually have to engage. Press A or X or whatever corresponding button it is, when you attack to deal extra damage. Press the same button when enemies attack to lower the amount of damage you take, and my god you better “git gud” at this one. If you don’t learn how to block attacks you’ll be….how do I put this delicately…? You’ll be absolutely fucked. You’ll be a bull in a China shop, where everything is red, and you want nothing but destruction, because this game is so unforgiving! Picture it. Your character has 250 HP. You’re in battle. The enemy is almost dead. For some reason, they get two moves, one after the other. You don’t block the attacks that come at you. So they each do 145 damage a piece. Oh look, game over! If you blocked, they would’ve done maybe 30. That’s how bullshit this game is in battle! It made me rage so hard at the beginning when I was getting the hang of it!
It also didn’t help the rage, when it came to loading times! I played on my Xbox One S, and a friend played on their Switch, and before and after battle, there were load times from 10-30 seconds! BEFORE AND AFTER. Another friend on Ps5 said they got 3-5 seconds before and after. Sometimes loading times were so long for me that the battle would basically start without me, and by the time it loaded, I was already getting attacked, and couldn’t react, so there goes a ton of my HP!
It doesn’t help that the game gives you such a tiny amount of healing items at the beginning of the game, and the shop prices are absolutely ludicrous. Oh you only get 50 marbles (currency) per battle at the beginning? I’m spit balling here by the way. Well the healing options are 1,000 a piece IN THE STORE! That’s literally the price of everything in the store too. Absolutely fuckin stupid. Mana potions? 7 Thousand. A tent? 10 Thousand. Equipment you can find in dungeons? 25 Thousand! Needless to say I NEVER used the store. In a sense. You have to use the store to upgrade your weapons. That’s the other annoying thing too. You don’t find new weapons to get stronger. You upgrade your weapons in the store. You can also only upgrade like 4 or 5 times before you just can’t get them stronger. So by the 10th hour, every weapon was fully upgraded. Plus when you level up, you see your character learning a new skill once and a while, but you never see your stats go up. So it literally never feels like you get stronger. It’s annoying. When teammates aren’t in battle, they also don’t get EXP. So if you have your main crew at 30, and never used another character, they may only be, say, level 22. I hate feeling punished for not liking a character in battle. But it’s made exceedingly worse when you’re eventually FORCED to use them!
Then I have to talk about the frustrating difficulty spikes when it comes to bosses, because this is just absolutely ridiculous. About halfway through the game, there was a boss that took me about an hour to kill. The reason is because they were so frustratingly difficult. Plus there were two of them. It didn’t help they did an attack that couldn’t be blocked and would take about 300 HP from EACH party member. So after I finally killed this boss, no thanks to a skill I didn’t realize was basically necessary, I thought “oh great! The next one will kick my ass!” But I blew through the next handful of bosses, as if they were ants, and I had a magnifying glass, setting them alight. Only to eventually be faced with another boss eventually, that doesn’t seem properly balanced.
As for the rest of the “gear” that you find, you can take it or leave it. You’ll find necklaces, or boots, or rings, that do something like, “Increase your defence and HP”, or “Increase your ATK but lower your M. ATK”. But after you find a handful of decent ones to put on your characters, there’s never a reason to switch them around. The ONLY time I switched things up, is at the last boss. There were a few things I could do to bump my characters up just a touch, but considering there were only like 4 items from each category, there wasn’t much variety. It’s just not easy apparently to make a good gear system for JRPGs I guess.
Though the art style was beautiful at least. A lot of people will say it’s very anime. But as I played through it, I got a very big feel, that the art style resembled that of the art style used to depict Mexico’s “Day Of The Dead”. Throughout the game you also get a few CG cutscenes that look absolutely amazing. If the devs used the same style to create an anime of the game, I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it at all! Plus the music was somber and fun.
- Engaging Story
- Likeable Characters
- Amazing Art Style
- Bullshit Damage Numbers
- Never Seeing Numbers Rise
- Random Difficulty Spikes
- Not Getting New Weapons
Cris Tales was a game I was super excited for. But after the credits rolled, I was more happy that it was finally over, as opposed to just happy that I enjoyed a good game. The story was engaging, the art style was beautiful, but everything underneath was just not great. The combat was too punishing if you couldn’t get the timing down, the random boss difficulty spikes were a pain in my ass, and you just never feel like you’re getting stronger. Couple that with the fact that teammates who don’t participate in battle don’t get EXP, and you’re eventually forced to use them, and this is a bad JRPG.
You can find one with a better system elsewhere sadly. Which sucks, because again, the story was great! Maybe it’ll get patched somehow down the road.
Game & Developer Information
Developer Website: Dreams Uncorporated
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: Modus Games
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: £34.99 / €39.99 / $39.99
Trophy Information: 47. 1 / 2 / 11 / 33