Originally written at 9/9/15, PSA: how to find a decent picture??? IMPOSSIBLE
Current mood: WASURENAI DE~~~~~ ITSUDATTE YONDERU KARA~~
Tales of the Abyss was my first Tales game. I had exposure when the anime aired and my dad watched the first ep or so. Then when the PS2 babe came I got more exposure. I bought Tales of Legendia alongside TotA, but I played TotA first instead of ToL… I should be the other way round because ToL came before TotA! But I was so fixated on a game I’m more familiar with, I ignored ToL until like, during my second TotA playthrough idk?
Tales of the Abyss is also known as Discovering the Meaning of Life RPG (the characteristic genre) in Japan. I know what you’re thinking. “If this is a Discovering the Meaning of Life RPG, why is it named Tales of the Abyss? It doesn’t make sense!” I’ll explain later, so moving on!
It tells the tale of Luke, our protag, who was whisked away from his home by accident. Tear, the culprit, is his mentor, Van’s sister. Luke, being locked up in his home for all his life, is an ignorant and rude douchebag. Well, we can’t blame him for being ignorant but his manners are way off the charts! Tear, aka beautiful but cold chick, keeps tabs on Luke during their journey back to Baticul, the capital of Kimlasca, Luke’s home country. They had to depart from Malkuth, Kimlasca’s sworn enemy, unfortunately. On the way the two meet Colonel Jade, a Malkuth soldier (and sarcastic megane) and Anise, a child soldier of the Order of Lorelei, the central religion of the world Auldrant. Along with them came Ion, the highest ranking member of the order, the Fon Master.
Luke learns many things (the hard way), and while I really dislike pre-haircut Luke, I have to admit his determination to kill is the only thing admirable during this time. They meet Guy, Luke’s friend and servant who was ordered to search for Luke. Things start to get confusing as Jade suspects, but finally our protag is home! Princess Natalia, Luke’s first cousin on his mother’s side, also his fiancee, storms in and demands… stuff, before the party seeks an audience with the King.
This is where the fun part comes in. Van manipulates Luke’s foolishness and ignorance, a whole city is destroyed, mysterious figure Asch The Bloody calls Luke a reject/dreck/replica/idiot etc, and Luke passes out. Luke, it seems, is a clone of Asch, the original noble Luke fon Fabre. Luke takes a tour through Asch’s eyes, and realized that he’s such a douchebag. Asch disconnects last minute, and Luke wakes up. He cuts his hair to show Tear that he’s determined to change himself, and Tear promises to watch over him. The other guys are distrusting (except Guy bc he’s all for bros), but Ion is always a forgiving cinnamon roll!
After Luke’s shocking backstory reveal, the game take turns exploring each character: Natalia is a fake princess; Guy was once a Malkuth noble; Ion is the seventh and final replica of the original Ion; Jade is the one who invented fomicry, the forbidden technology of creating replicas; Anise was blackmailed into spying Ion for Mohs; Tear, as well as Van, once served Guy’s family. Ion dies to give Luke a hint of the future and save Tear from her terminal disease. Ion died a tragic death, he does not even leave a corpse.
Asch may piss Luke off, but he still wants to help Asch, out of guilt for snatching his identity or just purely wants to thank him for always saving his ass, I don’t know. As the two are perfect copies of each other, and both are also perfect isofons with Lorelei, the amazing deity who writes future, Lorelei decides that ‘hey, let them youngsters free me from my prison!’ and sends Asch and Luke some items.
People who are supposed to be dead come back alive, replica soldiers are made to start a war and stir emotions among people. Luke and Asch manage to obtain the two items Lorelei sent them, and save the world a second time, but Luke developed a terminal condition: he is starting to disappear. Van, who was supposed to be dead, comes back alive and with superpowers at that, builds a replica city – Eldrant. While the party intrudes Eldrant, Luke fell into a trap. When he came to, Asch was there with him (they fell for the same trap ha!). Fate is a douchebag, the room can only let one person out. So the two decided to let a duel determine who would leave the room. Luke wins the sword fight, Asch gives his item to Luke. Just as Luke leaves and the doors close, a horde of replica soldiers overwhelm Asch, and he dies.
Luke feels Asch’s passing. Natalia mourns, but Jade ushers the party to go on. They fight the remaining God-Generals and reach Van. Tear frees Lorelei of Vans’ grasp, while Luke stays behind to free Lorelei completely from the world’s core. Eldrant collapses as the party watches it from afar. Luke finds Asch’s body, and he fades as Asch’s hand can be seen twitching…
My thoughts: There is a reason to why I won’t tell you the epilogue. It’s too much feels and too much confusion. I remember writing a short TotA review two years back. Now that I’m in my third playthrough, I’m going to just re-cap the timeline…
Game released: 2006
Anime adaptation: 2008
First playthrough: 2011
Second playthrough: 2013
Third playthrough: 2015
All seemed so loooooong ago. I wanted the older PS2 Tales games, but they aren’t sold anywhere anymore… Tales of Vesperia for PS3 is hard to find nowadays too. Well, on to my evaluations!
Programming: 9 because it’s a PS2, and partially because I don’t know if the lags are due to my own crappy console or the disc. There’s a tiny glitch during the first half of the game, but it’s only temporary, so don’t count on that. Mystic Artes piss me off because sometimes they won’t activate, but oh well.
Gameplay: 8. Dynamic cameras are still not popular then, so I guess there’s no point in saying, ‘there’s no dynamic camera except for the field’. Battle system is a thumbs up because of again, dynamic cameras and FOFs. Thumbs up again for free-running ability in the battlefield. Yay! I loved the sidequests, especially the costumes! Ohh, when you get a new costume you be like I’m gunna wear this shit rite now! And the new game + feature is very good! I know all Tales games have this but when your first video game was FF you’d be surprised.
Story: A full 10. I won’t say otherwise. It is shocking that a Tales game can win my all time fave FF for no shit. I was really immersed in the world of Auldrant and I find myself really getting into the lore, especially their fon science. A lot of their ‘scientific’ terms were direct references to our real-life ones, and the fonon frequency of Luke and Asch was, no doubt, 3.14! The value of Pi! Also, feels for everyone!
Soundtrack: 10. Ahh I’m giving TotA a really high rating aren’t I? The soundtrack had everything; from fun and relaxing music to outright creepy BGMs. The final boss themes were epic, and I can’t help but replay the whole sequence from the final boss to the epilogue. The soundtrack is also what made me want to replay TotA every single time!
Overall rating: 9.5, because I can’t give the game a full 10 for killing off everybody, especially Ion. ION THE CINNAMON ROLL. And the epilogue just made me wanna flip the table. I cried for Ion on the third playthrough. Why, I can guess. I know that Ion was going to die, but I just don’t remember when. When he really did die though… I just… can’t! And Luke’s character development was cool. I really hated pre-haircut Luke, but his douchebag personality is worth going over because after he cut his hair, Luke’s a cinnamon roll who just wants to make up to the world for whatever he did.
Back to my opening. Why is it called ‘abyss’, when the characteristic genre of the game is to discover the meaning of life? It’s simple. I quote,
..You see Abyss takes a lot of influence from the Qabalah and it’s Sephirot. There is an eleventh Sephirot called Da’at. Da’at represents ‘the abyss’. Da’at obviously forms the basis for the name of the city of Daath. The strife within the Order of Lorelei and the Score form a massive part of the game. So Tales of the Abyss really means Tales of Daath.
from GameFAQ user Gryphon_Lord. Basically from what I understand, the game is a tale of the reliance of the people on the score and the people who chose to oppose it. It can also be a reference to the world below the Outer Lands, in which most people are not aware of. The characteristic genre of the game, however centers on Luke’s journey to finding the meaning of his own existence – a replica’s existence – in the world. Throughout the game, Luke struggles with his own internal conflict on how he shouldn’t exist, and with Asch alive and well, it isn’t getting any better. In the end, he realizes he doesn’t need anyone’s acknowledgement to be alive – a person doesn’t need a reason to be alive. He is just living. And to all of you too.
Interesting fact: soundtracks that reference the opening theme KARMA do not begin with capital letters. Compare the English translation of the song with the soundtrack titles and get mind blown!