Part 1: CH1: It Began on the HillCH1: It Began on the Hill
: Hello, and welcome to Ase-WHOA!
: My apologies. You startled me. But you are... important. Why would you come all the way away from... your tree... to greet me?
: We've had some, shall we say, trouble, with visitors.
: I assure you I mean no harm. I'm just taking a vacation.
: I bet you wish you could take one.
: HAH! You have no idea.
: Anyway, now that I have someone in my peer group to talk to, I figure I should introduce myself.
: Is it in the form of a story?
: Of course. Normally the people I tell it to are a bit... younger than you, but that shouldn't matter too much. Feel free to break in if you have any questions.
: It starts with two children off exploring.
: Of course! Flowers bloom there all-year-round. Don't you want to see 'em? Come on! It'll be an adventure!
: D-Dad's gonna be really angry if he finds out... How many times has he told us to stay away from Lhant Hill? It's dangerous!
: You think I believe a word he says? Don't worry, it's fine. And besides, I'm 11 years old. I go where I want.
: W-Wait! What about Cheria? Shouldn't we invite her too?
: No, she can sit this one out.
: What? Why?!
: She's sick, Hubert. It would be hard on her. Besides, one scaredy-cat slowing me down is more than enough.
: Hey! That's not nice!
: ...Anyway, let's go! I wanna see what's up there!
Tales of Graces starts as it means to go on. Dawn of the New World rambled on about bullshit for like a half hour before you could get a decent fight. Here you can see fight #1 off to the right (ok we could skip it, but hell with that). Also I'm pretty sure this fight is both winnable and losable (although losing would take some serious effort), and you don't need any demonic possession to gain xp. So it's up above DNW on pretty much every count right out of the gate.
This is where the tutorial on the combat system would normally go, but it's not here since I've already seen it. In addition to what I said already, free run costs CC continuously, and dashing (block+left stick in any direction, or tap the stick in any direction) costs CC but can also give you CC back if you dodge an attack at the last second. Confusingly this is called a "parry". The number of CC you have is the number under your portrait.
Also, if you watched the video, you'll note how smooth the battle-start transition is.
: Is little Asbel there fighting with a sword that is rusted into its sheath?
: Yes. He was always a little crazy and stupid. Nobody just ever expected how far it would go.
There's that dodging. I wasn't timing it to get a "parry" there.
Another thing to note is that there are three "auras" that you gain as you guard for a period of time. They are, in order:
Blue: raises your critical gauge (the blue gauge below your health bar, increases your chance to get critical hits).
Green: gives you "iron stance" (the specific term for the can't-be-staggered effect you see with overlimit in previous games).
Red: your attacks automatically guard break the enemy.
: Is Hubert fighting with a stick?
: No, two sticks, one in each hand.
: I knew a guy who fought with two swords. He was a lot different than Hubert.
Skit: Wellspring of Deceit
: I'm not really thirsty.
: This water is famous! Plus, it's really good for you. So come on. Have some. You'll like it.
: W-Well, all right. *Glug, glug*
: Oh! Oh, this IS good!
: Wait, I thought you'd never been to Lhant Hill before.
: Huh. I guess Frederic knew what he was talking about after all. Here, gimme some of that. I wanna try it.
: Hey! I'm not your guinea pig!
: At the top of the hill was quite a sight.
: But what they found, that was something important.
: What's wrong?
: Th-There's someone there!
: And that's when they saw... her.
: It looks like a girl.
: Hey you! What do you think you're doing, sleeping out here?
: You did?
: OK time out I know this is an important event but what the hell is that giant thing that periodically appears way way in the background?
: Don't you have any sense of dramatics? You're getting ahead of things. In any case it's surprisingly unimportant to the tale.
:But then I heard your voice, and I woke up. Why was I awakened?
: Asbel of course didn't know what was going on.
: Mm, well I... Well you know, it's dangerous to sleep out here.
If you want to take a nap, maybe you should find a bed or something...
: Asbel! She's headed right for the cliff!
: Hey! You'll fall! What do you think you're doing?!
: Yeah, fall! Splat! You know what that means, right?
: No. What does it mean?
: It means... Um, well...
: That's a long way down. If you fell, you'd be in big trouble...
See? You get it now? If you fell, you'd...
Oh, nevermind. Look, just stay away from the cliff. ...Understand?
: So... Where do you think she's from? I've never seen her before.
: Hey, what's your name?
: Ah, right. That's rude. I should introduce myself first.
I'm Asbel Lhant. This is my little brother, Hubert.
: Hi, it's a pleasure to meet you.
: So, tell us your name.
: My name?
What was it? What was...
: Hey! Don't tell me you forgot your own name?
: Amnesia? OH COME ON!
: I'm sure someone like you has seen this a lot.
: It's always incredibly suspicious.
: Well then, I know. How about this? Can you at least tell us where you're from?
: Where I'm from...?
: Seriously? You don't remember that either?
: Asbel? I wonder if maybe she has amnesia or something.
They say that people with amnesia have trouble remembering things.
: Amnesia, huh?
Hey... So you really can't remember anything?
: Well you know Hubert... You may be right.
: So what do we do now?
: We bring her back to town.
Are you serious? Can we even do that?
: Well, what else can we do? We can't just leave her here.
And besides, maybe she'll remember something once we get back.
: Oh. Yeah... I suppose that makes sense.
: Hey, why don't you come back with us?
There's no point standing around here by yourself.
: Great! We'd better get going, then.
: Here. Take one for the road.
: It's just a flower, you know. You're weird... Well, never mind. Let's go!
Skit: Rebel Without A Cause
: I'd heard flowers bloom there year-round, and I wanted to see 'em. I'm kind of an explorer like that.
: That's what he likes telling everyone, but he only went there because Dad said not to.
: What? No! This has nothing to do with my father.
Mysterious Girl is a good bit higher level than us. The UI won't let me take a screenshot of it, but she's the only one of us that has a spell at the moment, First Aid. It's the weakest single-target heal, like you'd expect.
Skit: See the Sparkles!
: If you search around those, you sometimes find really cool stuff!
: Why are they there?
: Um...I dunno.
: I'm sure people accidentally dropped them. We should be careful not to make the same mistake.
Especially you, big brother. I'm tired of being blamed whenever you lose something.
: But that's... It's because you're always...
: Hee hee!
: And so they returned to Lhant.
: So...what do we do now?
: Hey! Asbel!
: Care to explain why you decided to leave me behind?
: You know you shouldn't be running like that.
: You guys went to Lhant Hill, didn't you!
: Um... Uh, where's that?
: Oh, don't play dumb with me! It's the hill where the flowers bloom all year round!
You must have promised me a dozen times you'd take me with you when you went there!
: I'm sorry. But look, if I brought you there, you'd be too tired to walk back.
And then I'd have to carry you on my back again...
: And you always get really angry whenever Asbel has to carry you.
: Well that, that's just because he's so terrible at it! *Cough* *Cough*
: She reminds me so much of someone I once knew. Poor Celes.
: See, what did I tell you? ...Here, hop on.
: I sense where this is going.
: Presumably with your eyes.
: Hey... Where did that girl go?
: What girl?
: Huh? Why is she still back there?
Go get her, Hubert.
: Hey there! So why didn't you follow us?
: That girl told us not to move.
: Asbel? Who is this girl?
: I don't know. We found her on the hill and brought her back here.
: Why did you do that?
(Hmm... She seems a little older than me...)
(So, is this the kind of girl Asbel likes?)
: Come on, Cheria. Don't stare at her like that. You two should try to be friends!
Oh I was wondering... What's with that flower you're holding, Asbel?
: How lovely. So did you bring this flower back...for me?
: Actually... I um...
: Uh, yeah. Something like that.
: Oh, Asbel!
Well, since you were kind enough to bring me a flower, I guess I can forgive you just this once.
This is a sopheria, isn't it? They don't normally bloom this time of year. I guess the stories about that place are true.
: Yeah, the hill had flowers blooming all over the place.
: That one little flower sure is making her happy, huh Asbel?
: Th-Thank you. That was really nice of you.
: OK Mystery Girl's starting to really bug me. I'll keep my suspicions to myself though.
: So...what's your name? Where are you from?
: We asked her the same thing earlier, but she doesn't know.
: We think she might have amnesia.
: What?! Oh my gosh, that's terrible!
: We were hoping she'd remember something if we brought her into town.
: Well? Has seeing the town helped you with your memory at all?
: Of course it didn't.
: Guess not... Maybe we should try asking around or something.
: Oh! Maybe we should go and ask my grandpa!
He knows pretty much everyone around here, you know?
: Oh, good idea. I bet Frederic would know something.
Let's head back to our place.
Here's something worth noting, you can get little tips on what to do next at any time you're running around, just by hitting the L1 button.
Skit: Poor Choice of Words
: Oh... You poor thing...
: Why...? What's so poor about not knowing your name? Does having a name make you happy?
: Oh, I-I'm sorry! It doesn't feel good to be called that, does it... I have a sickness, too, so I know how you feel. I'm really sorry.
: After a while, they made it to the Lhant Mansion.
: Hey, Frederic.
: You ran off on me again, Cheria.
: I'm sorry, Grandpa.
: Please forgive her, my young masters.
I've instructed her that you are not to be bothered, yet she refuses my council.
: Oh, don't worry about it. It's no bother at all. Anyway, we were wondering if you've ever seen this girl before?
: This young woman?
Mmm... No, I don't believe I have.
: Grandpa, this girl has amnesia.
: You don't say? That's quite the dilemma. Perhaps I should make a few inquiries around town.
: No, that's all right. We'll do it ourselves. C'mon guys, let's head into town.
: Do strive to return before dark, yes?
: You got it!
Skit: Family Ties
: Frederic? He's part of Cheria's family.
: You know? Moms and dads and brothers and sisters and stuff? Don't worry, I'm sure you have one.
: Moms and dads. Would they be important to me?
: Of course! They're your family!
: How about yours?
: Yeah! They-
: What's wrong?
: I-I don't know. I wonder what Mom and Dad actually think of me.
: I'm sorry. I don't have the answer to your question.
: I wasn't asking you!
Like in every RPG, you can talk to people around town. Unlike every RPG, dogs can talk to you and this isn't really considered a big deal. Later on we'll discuss talking with cats.
Skit: The Fruit of Ignorance
: Apples! That guard just gave you one! ...Don't tell me you don't know what an apple is?
: I don't think so, no. I haven't seen one before.
: Wow. You really aren't from around here, huh? Wherever you came from, it must be pretty far away...
: Maybe? Ah ha ha... Haaaa...
This is a discovery point. All of them provide a skit if you hit them at the right time, and many of them give you items. If you come back later, you can get more items.
Skit: Full of Hot Air
: Why?! Um, because we're really high up and it would hurt if you fell?
: Oh. That sounds bad.
: Hey Asbel, what is this?
: It's a windmill! See, the eleth in the wind powers the blades, which is cool.
: The adults around here call this mill "Lord Windegarde," but I'm not a big fan of that name, so personally I prefer to call it...
: Hey, where'd she go? ...I guess she really is afraid of heights, huh?
Skit: Age is Just a Number
: Yeah, I was probably around nine years old back then. My father had some artist paint it.
: I'm 11 now, so that would have been... two years ago? Oh, but hey! How old are you?
: I don't know. Maybe, 14?
: Are you sure you're older than me?
: Oh man.
Skit: Rash Justice
: Ouch! Don't pinch my cheeks! It really hurts!
: Asbel, cut that out! What's wrong with you?
: I found a piece of cryas on Lhant Hill that was full of eleth, but it's gone! I think Hubert stole it.
: Asbel, what's that by your feet?
: Oh! My cryas! Well, whaddya know?
This happens every single time.
: Needless to say, they weren't able to find out much asking around town. However, the mysterious girl wasn't the only visitor they would have that day.