One can ignore this game thanks to its floral cover design but Tales of Graces f, released March 2012 by Namco Bandai, really blossoms into becoming one of this generation’s best RPG’s. It has a great story with satisfyingly difficult gameplay and a fantastic leveling up system.
You follow Asbel Lhant, the eldest son of a lord, who disregards his father in every way possible. When he travels to a hill he was forbidden to go to, he finds a girl named Sophie in a bed of flowers asleep. Asbel soon finds out that she has lost her memory and the 11-year-old boy takes her back to his hometown, Lhant. He tells his father that he’ll look after her but his plans do not go so smoothly. Seven years later, he is a knight-in-training in a desperate attempt to become stronger rather than accepting his lordship. The story is well told through brilliant voice work and writing. The voice acting, led by Bryce Papenbrook (Asbel), is stellar and drives the beautifully crafted story forward. Many scenes of Graces end up in tears, heart racing moments and laughter. A hallmark of the Tales of games is that it is focused on character development and the developers use mini cutscenes called skits. Gamers will learn of the character’s thoughts, moods and casual talks during these “skits.” They also lead to many laugh out loud moments along the way and immerse the player into the plot. It’s refreshing to play through a light hearted story without apocalyptic worlds or super serious plots like Borderlands, Final Fantasy or Dragon Age. The story is just plain fun and engrossing to follow.
The music, however, is a mixed bag. The soundtrack playing in the dungeons and battles are repetitive and bland. On the other hand, Matoi Sakuraba (the composer of the game) has mastered the music which orchestrates the emotional scenes between characters. The main theme of Sophie is a wonderful example, which perfectly describes her inner feelings throughout the game as she feels confused and scared of what’s ahead. The voice acting in Tales of Graces f is excellent and it does not want to make you tear your hair out like many other J-RPG’s. With voice actors, Bryce Papenbrook (Zidane from Dissidia: Final Fantasy) and Laura Bailey (Serah Fallon from Fantasy XIII-2), Namco Bandai signed up a talented cast list who should be considered for other roles in the industry or future installments for the Tales of franchise. There are a few hiccups in voice editing but overall the sound of the game is remarkable despite some repetitive soundtracks.
Tales of Graces’ main story will give you a hearty thirty hours of play. However, there is another part of the story attached to it called Legacies and Lineage which continues the narrative by five hours. It takes place six months after the game’s main plot and as a fan of the franchise, I felt incredibly satisfied with my purchase. Two words came to mind when I found out about this extra part in the story: Fan Service. In addition to that, there are plenty of side quests and a lot of titles to unlock. Plus, the trophy list will be difficult to defeat, thanks to its ridiculously hard, Chaos Mode. Like many Roleplaying Games, the player will receive hours upon hours of gameplay so you will definitely get your money’s worth if you decide to purchase ‘Tales of Graces f.” In conclusion, Tales of Graces f is a game that every RPG gamer will need to check out because of its breathtaking graphics, deep gameplay mechanics and thrilling story. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest RPG’s of this generation.