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?
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.
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
- Update 1: It Started With A Song
- Update 2: Tataroo Valley
- Mechanics Update
- Update 3: The Village of Engeve
- Update 4: The Cheagle Woods (Part I)
- Update 4: The Cheagle Woods (Part II)
- Update 5: The Tartarus (Part I)
- Update 6: The Tartarus (Part II)
- Update 7: St. Binah + Sidequests
- Update 8: Crossing the Border
- Update 8: Crossing the Border (Synopsis)
- Update 9: Choral Castle (Part I)
- Update 9: Choral Castle (Part II)
- Update 10: Chesedonia
- Update 11: Baticul
- Update 12: An Ambassador of Peace
- Update 12: An Ambassador of Peace (Synopsis)
- Update 13: Deo Range (Part I)
- Update 13: Deo Range (Part II)
- Update 14: Akzeriuth
- Update 15: A Mile in Another's Shoes Part I
- Update 16: A Mile in Another's Shoes Part II
- Update 17: Back to the Surface
- Update 18: Church Storming
- Update 19: The Silver World
- Update 20: The Floating Capital
- Update 21: Falling World
- Update 22: The Passage Rings
- Update 23: The War of Rugnica Plains
- Update 24: Descent
- Update 25: Sidequest Hell
- Update 26: The Score Revisited
- Update 27: False Princess
- Bonus: Things You Missed the First Time: Part 1
- Update 28: Inista Marsh
- Update 29: Confrontation
- Update 30: Fall of the House of Gardios
- Update 31: Return to Tataroo Valley
- Update 32: Princess Natalia
- Update 33: Coliseum Time
- Update 34: Peace Conference
- Bonus: Things You Missed the First Time: Part 2
- Update 35: The Return of Sidequest Hell
- Update 36: Disaster at Sheridan
- Update 37: The Heart of the World
- Bonus: Things You Missed the First Time: Part 3
- Update 38: Meggiora Sephiroth
- Update 39: Zaleho Sephiroth
- Update 40: Mt. Roneal Sephiroth
- Update 41: Towards a New Future Part I
- Update 42: Towards a New Future Part II
- Update 43: Replica Blues (Part I)
- Update 43: Replica Blues (Part II)
- Update 44: Signs of Conflict
- Update 45: Sidequest Hell III: The Revenge (Part 1)
- Update 46: Sidequest Hell III: The Revenge (Part 2)
- Bonus Update: Map Glitch & Asch Glitch
- Update 47: Farewell for a Friend
- Update 48: Farewell Wrap up & More Sidequests
- Update 49: Forbidden Power
- Update 50: A Rising Threat
- Update 51: Challenges from the New Order
- Update 52: No Place for Replicas
- Update 53: The Tower of Light
- Update 54: The Only Alternative
- Bonus: Things You Missed The First Time: Part 4
- Update 55: A Reason to Die
- Update 56: Unfortunate Parentage + Sidequest Roundup
- Update 57: To Fight Family
- Update 58: The Planet's Memory
- Update 59: The Hidden Circus
- Update 59: The Hidden Circus Bonus
- Update 60: Towards the Glorious Land
- Update 61: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part One
- Update 62: The Meaning of Birth
- Update 63: Last of the God-Generals
- Update 64: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part Two
- Update 65: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part Three
- Update 66: Out With a Bang
- Bonus Update: Alternate Dialogues
- Epilogue: It Ended with a Song