It has not been my normal practice in 2021 to buy games so close to their release date. Of all the games I’ve purchased throughout the year, there have been few exceptions, the most recent one being Far Cry 6. Last month, another exception was Tales of Arise. A few months prior, the game wasn’t even on my radar. But its name kept coming up in YouTube searches and I decided to watch gameplay videos of the demo. The day the game was released, I read the reviews on Steam indicating that there were no game-breaking or game-detracting bugs. One day later, I bought Tales of Arise. And I am so glad that I did.
Tales of Arise is a phenomenal title and is suddenly in the running for my top game for 2021. Yes, just like that. I wanted to give the game at least several hours before posting any impressions. Those several hours I’ve spent with Tales of Arise made for a grand experience that made me wonder how in the world did I take this long to get into the Tales series. Because it was my first game in the long-running series, there was nothing to reference it against or compare it to. That’s the wonderful thing about being a “Tales” neophyte. I was able to go into this game with no biases or expectations of what I felt it should be. I have just been able to enjoy the ride. And believe me, it’s been one great ride. Bandai Namco Studios already provided me with one Game of Year candidate in Scarlet Nexus. Now they’ve given me Tales of Arise as another. Both games worked for me as they should out of the gate with no significant bugs or glitches. It’s been a strong Bandai Namco year for this gamer.
When Tales of Arise begins, you are thrown into a world divided between two races of people. You have the Dahnans and the Renans. The advanced people of Rena invaded Dahna, took over the planet and enslaved the Dahnans. Dahna was then split into five isolated realms each ruled by a Renan lord. You start the game as a Dahnan slave named “Iron Mask” in the fiery realm of Calaglia. The main character the player controls has a mask that covers his head, his body can’t feel pain, and he has no recollection of his past. Iron Mask has endeared himself to his fellow Dahnan slaves because he is quick to stand up for them. When he sees his people mistreated by their Renan overseers, he will take lashes on their behalf. Iron Mask eventually comes in contact with a female Renan named Shionne, who is on the run from her people and hurts whoever touches her. Through a series of events, Iron Mask and Shionne decide to team up as some of their goals align together. Yet their personalities are nowhere near aligned.
I won’t go into any more detail about the story as I don’t want to spoil too much in case you are thinking of playing this game. Like other role-playing games, you will encounter different characters along the journey that will become new members of your party. From what I’ve played so far, this is an epic game that has the potential to be a masterpiece. For an RPG in 2021, it checks a lot of the right boxes. The graphics are astonishing and the game is just a treat to look at. Superb voice acting brings the main characters to life. There’s plenty of depth to the characters that you’ll notice right off the bat, which gives you the incentive to want to find out more about them as the game progresses. For example, what are the memories that Iron Mask is missing, and who was he in his past? Why is Shionne an outcast and how did she develop such an icy demeanor?
The cutscenes are done in a comic book style with tiles placed together against a backdrop to advance dialogue. Battles are fantastic with responsive controls and a system that rewards you for exploring different techniques and pulling off combos. The world itself encourages exploration as you will find special items and side missions only when you’re willing to break from the main route. Music is one of the most important parts of an RPG and Tales of Arise far from disappoints. I would happily pay to see this music performed at a live concert.
I will admit that Tales of Arise had so much hype behind it that I was tempted to be cynical about it. But I am glad that I kept researching and kept investigating as much information on the game as I could. I listened to YouTubers that I trusted break down in detail why they felt the game was going to be a winner. Because there was a demo released before the game’s launch, I watched several gameplay videos to get a gist of what this game was. I had no prior “Tales” experience so I wasn’t as familiar with the strong reputation that the series had created over the years. My familiarity with the “Tales” series was in name only.
Without any reservation, I recommend Tales of Arise to any gamer who is looking for a grand and unforgettable adventure. If you like RPGs, you especially need to check this game out. It was able to become part of my “Game of the Year” list within a very short amount of time. Right now, my updated list includes Tales of Arise, Scarlet Nexus, and Hitman 3. I have the PC version, but Tales of Arise is also available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Hopefully, the Nintendo Switch will be an option at some point.
One of the perks of having the PC version is the ability to play the game with a PC Trainer that will allow you to have Infinite HP, Infinite Money, and a host of other great perks. You can see in the picture right above that I’ve used the Infinite HP code as Shionne and Rinwell’s HPs are maxed out at “99999.” I’m not one to grind in every game that I play and I don’t always need a challenge so I appreciate the fact that these trainers exist. My goal with Tales of Arise is to see the majestic story all the way through. I’ve been using cheats on various games back to the NES days and got more into it when I got into SNES RPGs. If you are on a PC, WeMod is an excellent free trainer that runs as an application on your computer.
I’ll definitely be playing more Tales of Arise before 2021 concludes. But there is no doubt that it is one of the best games of 2021. I expect it to win multiple awards by the end of the year. If you’ve never played a “Tales” title before, this is a great place to start. And even if you are a long-time “Tales” player, you will find much to enjoy.