The Let's Play Archive

Tales of the Abyss

by Sydin

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Original Thread: The Original LP is lost, so I made a Replica. Let's Play Tales of the Abyss



Watch the opening here.

Released in 2005, Tales of the Abyss is the eighth main entry into Namco-Bandai's “Tales Of” series. While it appears to be your standard JRPG on the surface, the Tales games famously shake things up by foregoing the boring turn-based combat that the genre is so well known for. Instead, it opts for a sort of pseudo 3D real time battle system that relies heavily on combos, blocking, and dodging. It also features multiplayer, but we won't be seeing that because none of my friends have the time to play this monolith of a game alongside me. The developers also like to tout that their games do away with and avoid many of the so called “JRPG cliches”, but that's such a laughable claim I can't even pretend to take it seriously for the sake of proving it wrong later in the thread. There is some of it, but for the most part the game is still swimming in anime.

Despite a lackluster release in the West due to Namco's complete lack of marketing, Tales of the Abyss did quite well back in Japan. Its protagonist Luke would go on to become a mainstay in the Top 10 of the Tales Series popularity polls, and it even got its own anime series that, in stark contrast to Symphonia and Phantasia's adaptions, followed the source material remarkably well and is actually quite watchable. I wouldn't recommend watching it until you've played the game though, since it still has to condense the plot and a few key elements slip through the net.

Anyway, what about the game proper?

The Good
Tales of the Abyss has a great battle system. No really, I mean an amazing battle system. I know I'll catch some flack from Vesperia and Graces fans, but I'd still argue that Abyss has the funnest battle system to date out of any Tales game. Tales of the Abyss was the first game to implement what would become known as the “Free Run” mechanic, which allows you to move on a three dimensional plane. Essentially, turning the game from pseudo 3D to actual 3D. It also throws in a lot of new mechanics, such as unique skills, upgrading specific attacks to gain new effects, using other party member's spells to power up your own spells, and so on. If this LP had a face cam (god forbid) you'd see me smiling during every battle.

The Not So Good
The Story is... well, yeah. It's a JRPG, and no JRPG is complete without annoying characters and stupid plot twists at every turn. Granted it definitely is nowhere near the worst the series has ever churned out (lookin' at you, Symphonia 2), in fact I'd argue it's among the best the series has to offer. However, the game has a bad habit of throwing lots of technobabble around when it really isn't needed, and loves doing that JRPG thing where a character in your party knows some vital information that would have really come in handy, but said nothing for no reason. Still, the story has its moments of subtlety, and it touches on interesting ideas of human psychology. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's bad, especially with considering the lengths that went in to fleshing out the setting. You should really approach this one less as a fantasy game that just goes with "it's magic, I don't have to explain anything", and more as a Sci-Fi game that feels the need to justify itself at every turn.

The Bad
I'm not gonna pull punches: the game is ugly. Though definitely still very anime, Abyss is the most “realistic” looking of the games in the series, and it isn't pulled off well. The world map in particular looks terrible: like something out of an N64 game. It also just looks... I don't know, blurry? Out of focus? And this is a constant, even when just playing the game on a PS2. It's not too noticeable, but it can be distracting. Also like most games of the era, it desperately wants some Anti-Aliasing.

It's also rather poorly coded. This is definitely the glitchiest of the Tales games, and it can also have a tendency to chug at times, too. Except for the battles, ironically what is probably the most intensive event in the game, which preform flawlessly and never lag. Okay then.

Despite all of these flaws, I am definitely something of a Tales of the Abyss apologist. Its flaws get nitpicked, and its strengths tend to be overshadowed by its big brother Symphonia and little brother Vesperia. I'll probably come off as harsh at times, but there is a lot to love about Abyss, and I hope I'm able to get some of it across.

You know they re-released this for the 3DS, right?
I do. According to my sources (Thanks Artix) the 3DS version cuts down on the obscene loading times, eliminates the slowdown on the world map, and smooths the entire game to a standard 30FPS (in the PS2 version, battles and a lot of cutscenes take place at a higher FPS) However the equipment needed to record from a 3DS is ridiculous in price, and I'm more familiar with this version anyway.

How is this Going to Work?
Updates will be in that screen shot form you love so much. Interesting things like animated cutscenes, boss battles, or a few particular scenes where the animation/music are important will be in video form.

: “This is dialogue that's being spoken out loud!”

: This is dialogue that's being thought, rather than spoken.

This is me, without quotes or picture, trying to be witty.

This is an explanation of an item or game mechanic.

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Bonus Stuff

Archive Index