After losing reality to Dragon Quest, I then went on to lose some more with Tales Of The Abyss. RPGs are the perfect things to play when you want to hide away from it all. I’d fallen into the abyss.
Tales Of The Abyss is an action RPG, first released on the PS2 and the 3DS edition is practically identical apart from the new 3D effect, which is fairly rubbish. A slight sense of depth is created, but it is clearly slapped in to tick that box. At least the cartoon world looks pretty neat without any depth perception, and it feels fairly modern on the portable device despite being a creaky PS2 relic. A vast array of towns and dungeons await as you set out to save the world from falling into the abyss. Lots of monster butchering and stat building included.
The story follows Luke, son of the Duke of Kimlasca, who just wants to go home after being teleported away by some chick with the same seventh fonons he has. He’s a mega brat and moans about everything and everyone. It’s fairly refreshing to see a jerk take the role of the hero and his ignorance leads to some amusing banter with his fellow companions. These companions include a princess, a servant, a scientist, a money loving kid and a sarcastic science whizz. They work together to some degree, but when the huge character changing twist happens upon our angry Luke, everyone turns into wet blankets. There is only so much whining and back patting one can handle, and it doesn’t help that there seems to be more plot than action. Every few minutes a ‘skit’ takes place which has all the characters talking in-depth about one small detail.
It doesn’t help that everyone throws around these really horrible terms constantly either; terms such as fomicry, hyperresonance, the Score, fonons and the like. They force the worlds terminology down your throat, and it seems no character is able to form a sentence without uttering at least two of these words. The plot ends up convoluted and tiresome, which is a shame as the idea of a land sinking into the depths, war between two nations, everyone’s futures being predetermined and human replication are interesting topics. Just dealt with the subtlety of an overdressed clown.
The gameplay itself is a lot of fun though, it uses a battle system called the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System (Christ) which basically means you play the game more like a hack n slash action game when you face the many nasties of the world rather than the turn based system RPGs tend to go for. You run into an enemy to trigger a battle and then you just charge in while your comrades do their thing. There are command shortcuts and the option to change tactics of AI so you don’t feel completely out of control of your buddies too, making for a rather customisable experience. Just a shame the game seems to jump from town to town for ‘exciting’ conversations rather than chucking you in increasingly deadly dungeons. It seems hours fly by before you get to chop some wolves up again. Clearly emotions and fonons are much more interesting to the player.
Despite the poor pacing, convoluted plot and phony characters, Tales Of The Abyss is still an addictive time sink and one which pulled me so deep down I thought I’d never climb back out. Now my RPG double whammy has come to an end, I see I’m skint, ill and have a beard. Damn. At least I don’t have to deal with the land sinking beneath my feet.