Originally written at 18/6/16
Current mood: Protect Sophie at all costs!!!!!!!111
It wasn’t until after I got most of the AC games that I bought ToGf. My shopping list after buying a new console has always been one, Final Fantasy; two, Tales; Three, Kingdom Hearts; and four, Assassin’s Creed. Followed by other JRPGs, then only the various games I’m thirsty about. I’ve been looking into PS3 Tales games, but they’re so scarce and sometimes the shopkeeper doesn’t even know what I want. So I did some research on my own and found a few titles (at least more than PS2). I’m still salty about Tales of Vesperia. Namco Bandai, release a localized PlayStation copy OK!
Before all else, Tales of Graces is Discovering the Strength to Protect RPG. You’ll know why later on, so let’s keep moving…
You know what’s up, it’s a game of ‘guess that character’! So our main characters are really easy to spot, it’s a guy and a girl. Go on, take a guess. Ready? So the male lead is Asbel. His hair is a maroon-ish hue and he wears white robes which have a lot of fasteners or something. He is the eldest son of the Lord of Lhant and is expected to succeed his father, but he always wanted to be a knight. The female lead is Sophie, the one with purple pigtails. She is a innocent girl with a very mysterious past. Richard is like Howl but with longer hair and more emo. He is the crown prince of Barona, later ascended the throne. I fell in love with Richard the instant I laid my eyes on him. Cheria has pink hair tied in… whatever hairstyle that is. She has most elaborate brooch and puffiest sleeves that conceal her neck. Childhood friends with Asbel and Hubert, she bears an obvious crush on Asbel, but couldn’t bring herself to admit it… Asbels’ younger brother Hubert wears glasses. He also has a resting bitch face, but I love him all the same (shhh don’t tell Richard). He is significantly more competent than his brother in many ways. Malik (pffttt NOVICE) fills the old man quota in every JRPG party. Also this is additional info but Malik is a childish-ass adult. He has the most dramatic love life, maybe because he is old. Maybe. Lastly we have Pascal, who has odd colors for her hair. She may look evil in official art but she’s actually a HUGE dork and nerd who doesn’t like to bathe. Pascal is a descendant of an ancient race which now lives underground. Also the story is complicated politics as shit, so I’m just going to try to make it simple.
We start off with Asbel and Hubert as kids out in the field without their parent’s permission. When the game introduces Hubert as Asbel’s brother I just flipped because, how did a cute kid turn into such an grumpy teenager? Also have you seen their hair color? Anyway, they find a girl with amnesia lying around in the flower fields and decided to take her back to Lhant. When they return Cheria who is sickly comes out and nags that they didn’t bring her along, and sees the girl (then gets jealous). Asbel gives the unknown girl the name Sophie. Young Prince Richard arrives in Lhant soon after, and they become friends. Richard gives Asbel his ring as a token of their friendship. Their innocence is cut short when the four kids plus Sophie are attacked by a mysterious being in the palace catacombs. TWIST!!!!! Asbel wakes up at home to be informed that Sophie has died. Richard and Cheria is well, but Hubert has left the family to be adopted into a wealthy Strahtan family. Asbel’s father tells him he could only blame himself for Sophie’s death. Cheria tries to console Asbel but gets herself yelled at. He leaves for Barona in hopes of becoming stronger so that he can protect the people he loves.
Seven years later after training with his mentor Malik, Asbel receives news of his father’s death from Cheria. He goes back only to realize war is breaking out and he has no power to keep his hometown safe. While battling ultra-mecha tanks a girl who looks like Sophie appears and busts the enemy, but it isn’t enough. Just as things are getting worse Hubert arrives with soldiers and saves everyone’s ass. Things happen as Asbel and Sophie gets kicked out of Lhant, Richard is fighting for the throne, and a goofball which is Pascal decides to tag along for no definitive reason other than to touch Sophie. Richard manages to be crowned king, but his personality is so twisted Asbel starts to suspect.
Richard orders Hubert to be removed from Lhant by force, and Asbel tries to stop the king but fails. When Richard decides to attack his friends, everyone agrees the king has gone cuckoo. Sophie regains her memories, and a world crisis falls onto Ephinea (their planet) – eleth (life force of the world) is decreasing rapidly and there is no clear reason and solution for the problem. At the same time Richard goes missing and he shows up at the worst possible moment to reveal he was the culprit behind the decreasing eleth. After some text digging on Pascal’s part, they find out Richard may be controlled by an ancient being called Lambda. The party tries to stop Richard from reaching the planet’s core but fails miserably and Sophie is hurt to the point no recovery arte can heal her.
After some more text digging the party finds out that both Sophie and Lambda hail from Fodra, Ephinea’s mother planet (that basically means Ephinea is a moon if Fodra does not orbit around another celestial body). They travel there via space shuttle in hopes of finding a way to save Sophie. Upon reaching there they discover Fodra is a dead planet with no eleth – meaning no life. They meet Emeraude, the sole survivor on the planet. She explains the truth about Sophie, who is a bio weapon designed specifically to eliminate Lambda, no matter the cost. Emeraude requests to be taken along back to Ephinea, and the party agrees. However things do not go as planned when she decides its a good idea to absorb Lambda from the unconscious Richard just to get herself absorbed instead. Lambda returns to Richard’s body and goes deep into the planet’s core.
As the party venture into the planet’s core they see visions of Lambda’s past and his hatred for humans. Richard goes full berserk with a very second-hand embarrassment getup. Like wtf is wrong with you Richard???? After the first round Richard gets tired and Lambda discards his vessel and goes full one-winged-angel on the party. After defeating Lambda Sophie still has the intention of sacrificing herself, so Asbel stops her by absorbing Lambda and have a chat with him. After negotiating Lambda decides to hibernate in Asbel for the time being so all is well!!!!
In the future arc Lineage and Legacies, another threat arises which is Little Queen, the sentient core of Fodra. All this while Asbel has been receiving countless marriage proposals (with a few cameos), Cheria is still oblivious and in denial as ever, Hubert is offered the president’s daughter’s hand in marriage, Pascal is dense to a fault, Richard gets pestered by his subjects to marry their daughters, Malik meets his dead lover’s doppelganger… lots of OTP stuff. Actually you know what, this extra arc is just to tell you who likes who (aahhh I see what I did there!!!) and tie some loose ends. So Little Queen hates humans too, Lambda helps to absorb her and Sophie grows up a little and becomes more human. THE END!!!!
Tale of Graces may not place higher than Tales of the Abyss in my heart, but it’s still a good game. I liked the characters and the skits OMG THE SKITS. Also after I finished FF13-2 and saw Serah is voiced by Laura Bailey… ok the name sounds familiar and guess what? She voices Cheria. And I keep imagining if Serah would ever speak like Cheria… what’s worse she voices Rise from P4, and Catherine from the game of the same name??? WHat?? Then there’s this obscure character Luca Trulyworth, whom I always listen to the jp voiceover… so one day I’m going to listen carefully on how Bailey does Luca’s voice.
Gameplay: 7. Why? Let me start with exploration. Graces doesn’t have free camera yet, so there’s no point complaining about that (but rly???? it’s already PS3 gen!), I’m quite sad they decided to do away with world maps, and instead put in field sections. And the worst thing is field sections have fixed camera angles too!!! ARGGH WHY??? Battle mechanics are really hard to master, and it has put me in tight situations more than once. Exp is gained as usual, but it only increases your HP. Any other attributes are gained through Titles. In this game there is nothing equivalent to MP/TP, instead we have CC, which is the most frustrating thing. OK, maybe I can’t do any fancy moves, but even basic attacks are not available if there is no CC?? Quick-step, side-step all require CC, asdfghjkl I even calculated, to finish a whole set of basic attacks one will need 10 CC in total OMG WHY. However this system is generally more challenging, so a tip of the hat to you Namco Bandai. And then there’s Magic Carta…
Story: It’s… not really interesting tbh. I didn’t watch or read any spoilers, but I find things a little bland. A 6 maybe? I mean, even the characteristic genre didn’t appeal to me. However it’s tear-jerking all the same. It still made me go DIO MIO (my god) at times… Especially in the future arc when Asbel adopted Sophie into Lhant house as his daughter… and she said she’ll live to be his legacy… and watch over his family… SO PURE!!!! And the epilogue!!! The epilogue, oh! The epilogue! Sophie with Asbel and Cheria’s great-great-grandson! It reminds me of Akatsuki no Yona where the yellow dragon can never die and he has seen so many people come and go. Can you imagine? Sophie, a girl so innocent and pure to grasp the concept of death, when she can never experience one herself. She has to see her very first friends die, their children, their children’s children…
Soundtrack: This is where things go downhill. Not to be mean but I can only give it a 4. Because bland. It’ll be worse when I review Xillia, trust me.
Overall rating: It’s ok… so a 7 maybe? I mean I still enjoyed the game regardless of the story or soundtrack. There’s Richard! And Hubert! And lots of shipping! And most importantly, there’s MAGIC CARTA! This mini game will make you want to collect all the cards and win every game, especially when you get a card with one of your favorite Tales character on it OOOOUUOOOO!!!! And it is very satisfying when you actually remember their quotes OMG! Sadly I only have Jade at the moment…*cries* I got some Legendia characters later, but still… The shipping is pretty straight forward, some people are in denial that Asbel and Cheria are confirmed canon, and Hubert/Pascal is more like Hope/Light but with less certainty that they are officially canon. Like, Lightning and Hope are meant to be together: the fans know it, the developers implied heavily on it, but it isn’t officially stated that they are in a relationship or whatever, but we JUST KNOW. They had a whole game as an OTP masterpiece for crying out loud! Hubert and Pascal represent a more simple, awkward teenage kind of romance imo. Just watch this for yourself.
Btw Hubert has glasses, so that’s why he keeps adjusting his non-existent glasses. Serves you right Pascal for being so dense!
*ahem* Moving on to the characteristic genre of the game. ‘Discovering the strength to protect’ is not synonymous to ‘Graces’, it’s not even synonymous to the word grace! So, just what is it?? I’ll have you know that the name of a Tales game is not a direct reference to its characteristic genre (maybe ToL is an exception, but that’ll have to wait for its review…). I quote,
3. favor or goodwill. Synonyms: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity; condescension.
4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean’s grace that I wasn’t expelled from school. Synonyms: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness. Antonyms: animosity, enmity, disfavor.
5.mercy; clemency; pardon: He was saved by an act of grace from the governor. Synonyms: lenity, leniency, reprieve. Antonyms: harshness.
3. Friendship tends to include kindness. Cornell was the only one who was kind to Lambda until Asbel came along. Lambda says that he’s indebted to Asbel.
4. Lambda let Asbel use his power to absorb Fodra’s Lastalia
5. Sophie dispersed her particles to save Asbel, Cheria, and Hubert at the end of the childhood arc.
From GameFAQ user oathkeeper9918. Man, I’m always quoting forum users with Tales huh? Since I didn’t explain the story in detail, just know that the reason why Asbel and co. survives the palace catacombs is basically no. 5. Not stated is that grace can also mean mercy, which Asbel does at the end of the game, when he decides to spare Lambda instead of destroying him. To be fair he didn’t want Sophie to die either. The characteristic genre is apparent since the end of the childhood arc. After Sophie’s death Asbel leaves to train as a knight in hopes of finding strength to protect those dear to him. Time and time again he is reminded just how ‘weak’ he is, that having physical prowess is not the true answer. But to protect someone doesn’t mean to run head-first into danger and kill yourself Asbel. Get your priorities right.