There has been a recent renewed interest in the turn-based/command-based RPG genre as of late—with gamers looking to the roots of the genre—and, in many ways, what’s old is once new again. Cris Tales is part of this wave of turn-based revival and while high-profile studios like Square Enix are simply looking to their past and reintroducing classic titles to new audiences as with the Final Fantasy pixel remasters, Cris Tales feels like a love letter to turn-based RPGs of the past—all the while forging its own unique identity in the genre.
At first glance, Cris Tales feels both immediately familiar but decisively fresh. Reminiscent of games like Paper Mario with a modern Cartoon Network–style aesthetic, Cris Tales makes a strong impression from the outset. The gameplay will feel familiar to turn-based RPG veterans: you take turns to decide your commands for each of your characters and then watch as the action plays out before deciding the next course of action in the battle. However, it is through Cris Tales‘ unique time-bending mechanics that the game spices things up.
The time-bending mechanics allow for a variety of complex scenarios to unfold both in and out of battle. Out of battle you must manipulate the past, present, and future in order to solve puzzles and gain crucial information; inside of battles, however, the manipulation of time can prove to be key to victory, with the ability to age or de-age enemies on the fly and the ability to accelerate or decelerate effects and powers, among others. This adds a deeper layer of complexity to the turn-based battle system and gives the game its unique flavour.
Visually, the game is a sight to behold. It is very Western in its style, which is counter to its gameplay which feels distinctly Japanese. This makes for a nice mix of styles that ultimately compliment one another more than you’d expect. The world and its colourful cast of characters are beautifully rendered and realised here and it may be Cris Tales crowning achievement in all honesty.
In terms of the plot, the game does take a while to get the ball rolling but once it does there is plenty of complexity and intrigue to keep the player invested in Crisbell’s journey. The multitude of decisions that can effect the flow of the story make for plenty to uncover for gamers who are keen on multiple playthroughs.
Ultimately, Cris Tales is a superb love letter to the turn-based RPG genre. One that really shines in its attention to detail and fresh take on the genre, all the while staying true to what makes it so great. Cris Tales is more than worth a look in for RPG fans and for those looking to try something maybe a little bit different to what they may normally play: the game is a fun time for all.