Review by Calamity

"A tale of honor and sacrifice, of duty and choice, of what is written and WHAT WILL BE."

Tales of the Abyss is the eighth game of the Tales of series. An Action-RPG series created by Namco. It was released in North America on December 10, 2006. The Tales of series has always been one of my favorite series. I greatly enjoy just about almost every game in the entire series. However, Tales of the Abyss is my FAVORITE game of the whole entire series. It is a phenomenal game and everyone who is a RPG fan must play this masterpiece. So, why is this game so amazing? Read on to find out.

Graphics:9.7/10:Tales of the Abyss has beautiful graphics. To start off, the game uses a cel shading style. Everything in the game is absolutely gorgeous though. This is definitely one of the greatest PS2 games when it comes to the graphics. The character designs, enemy designs and area designs are all excellent. Not just that, but the attack animations during battle and the effects throughout the game are absolutely incredible. This game has great character design and is definitely one of my favorite RPG's when it comes to the character design of the main cast. Furthermore, the pure quality of the graphics themselves are astounding. You cannot help, but be immersed in this game due to the absolutely stunning graphics the game has. There's only one minor flaw I can think of. Which is rarely there's frame rate drops due to the graphics being a little too demanding at times. However, it is rare and frame rate drops only happened a handful of times throughout the entire game. In conclusion, I give the graphics a 9.7/10. They are just simply amazing. With graphics out of the way, it's onto the gameplay.

Gameplay:9.8/10:Similar to other RPG's, the basic progression of Tales of the Abyss is typical. You go from town to dungeon throughout the game. Upgrading equipment, triggering the next storyline and doing whatever you need to in town. From there, go to the next dungeon and make your way to the end. Upon reaching the end, fight a boss and generally you're done with that dungeon. Afterward, you repeat that whole process over again. The game also uses a traditional world map system. Meaning, upon leaving an area...You have to walk to your next location on a overworld. In addition, as with most RPG's that feature a traditional world map system, you gain vehicles as the game progress that allow you to explore more areas in different ways. Aside from that though, combat and exploration is done with a four man party. Battles are not randomly encountered similar to Tales of Symphonia. Instead, you come into contact with a enemy while moving around and a battle is initiated upon doing so. Then from there, you transition from the field to a battlefield where all the fighting goes on.

This is an Action-RPG game. So, battles pretty much involve slashing, jumping, blocking, dodging and all kinds of fast paced intense mayhem throughout them. Upon getting into a battle, your goal is pretty obvious. To defeat all the enemies and not die in the process of doing so. If you win, you get EXP/Gald(Currency of Tales of the Abyss) and items if you're lucky. Now if you lose, obviously you get Game Over and have to reload your save from the previous save point. Now, to get more in-depth with the battle system... Tales of the Abyss has a great battle system. It's improved over previous entries of the series and it brings a lot of new great features to the Tales of series battle system. Here's how the battle system works...

Battles take place on a 2D plane. Basically, you can pretty much move around during combat left and right. Furthermore, you can use regular attacks or Artes(Magic/Abilities). To make the combat more complex and enjoyable, you can combine physical attacks and Artes to form combos. Meanwhile, magic users will pretty much for the most part purely use spells. In addition to those basic commands, you can also gain skills throughout the game that grant you the ability to do a backwards jump, run anywhere on the battlefield, move faster, guard in different kinds of ways and in general grant you many different capabilities in battle. Generally, to win most battles in Tales of the Abyss you need to be attacking your enemy furiously. Since, upon a enemy getting hit several times, they will begin to stutter. Which prevents them from doing anything. An enemy is the most vulnerable when in that state. Aside from all of that, there is also a feature called Overlimit. That was carried over from previous games of the series. Basically, throughout battle as you inflict damage, a green gauge will fill below each character's HP/TP. Once it's fully filled, you press R2 and Overlimit will activate From there, the fun begins...

Overlimit is basically when a ally or opponent in battle gains an immense boost in power and can chain physical attacks continuously without any consequence. Furthermore, they cannot be knocked down or stuttered. Which makes attacking an opponent in Overlimit incredibly difficult. The biggest advantage of Overlimit is the ability to use Mystic Artes though. Mystic Artes are incredibly powerful skills that do tremendous damage and are pretty much among the most powerful attacks in the entire game. Both allies and foes get them. Overlimits are another key aspect to winning battles in this game. You need to use them at the right times and need to make sure you get the best use of them possible. Against bosses they are a massive help. They make boss fights a lot more easier in this game. There are also other features though that make the battles a lot more exciting in Tales of the Abyss. One of them a new feature called Free Run is one of those features.

Free Run basically is an ability you get early on in the game that allows you to run in any direction. Yes that's right, for the first time in a Tales of game you are now able to move anywhere you want on the battlefield. Primarily thanks to Free Run. However, the ability does have it's pros and cons. That way it is balanced. For the most part though, it is used to maneuver around enemies to get behind them and attack them or to dodge enemy attacks. When moving in Free Run, it's extremely difficult to do any attacks too. So, Free Run is primarily a defensive move. Used for dodging incoming attacks and moving around the battlefield. Personally, I love Free Run and I think it's one of the best additions to the Tales of battle system. It adds a lot more strategy to battles and it's definitely one of the funnest things to use in battle. I cannot count the amount of times I used Free Run throughout the entire game. Definitely an awesome feature that was a great addition to the game. Ultimately though, there's not too much else for me to discuss about regarding battles aside from the difficulty of them.

This game is pretty easy to be honest. Tales of the Abyss is probably one of the easiest Tales of games. From start to finish, the majority of the normal battles in the game are quite easy. Furthermore, only a handful of bosses throughout the game are really that difficult. Even more ridiculous, is how easy the final boss was. Probably the second easiest final boss in the entire series. Despite that though, there are optional bosses and they will put up a decent fight. Especially, the hardest optional boss of the game. Who should give players looking for a challenge what they want. Despite the easy difficulty though, I didn't mind. Since, the game is extremely fun. So, the difficulty never really bothered me due to how much fun the game was from start to finish regardless. There are more features aside from the battle system features that were added to the game though. Especially, when it comes to customization.

As with almost all RPG's, Tales of the Abyss has it's own ways of allowing you to customize your party. Tales of the Abyss uses a system called Capacity Cores in addition to equipment. Capacity Cores are equip-able items you find throughout the game that boost certain stats. Furthermore, you gain what are called A.D. skills from them. Which are skills you can equip onto characters by using Skill Points. Needless to say, the Capacity Cores are an extremely cool method of customization. It's a lot of fun seeing which Capacity Cores are good for which characters and using the A.D. skills you acquire from them. That's about it for the new features in the game though. Either way, I'm sure people by this point are wondering about the length of this game

Tales of the Abyss is an extremely long game. Your first playthrough will most likely take at least 45-50 hours minimum just going straight through the main storyline. Once you beat the game, you can then start a New Game + file. Where you get access to a feature called the Grade Shop before beginning a new file. Which allows you to obtain certain bonuses on your next playthrough if you desire by spending the grade you obtained from battles throughout the game. For example, you could get a bonus such as 2X EXP or something like that on your next playthrough. In addition, many new sidequests open up on a New Game + file. So, there's truckloads of replay value in this game. Since, there's a plethora of sidequests to do. In addition, the sidequests will add at least 10-15 hours more to the game minimum. There is one last aspect of the game I do wish to talk about regarding the gameplay though. Which would be the puzzles.

Now, I'll be honest. Generally, I'm not too huge of a fan of puzzles. They aren't too bad in games and I generally don't mind them, but they are something I wouldn't miss if they were taken out of some games. In general, it really comes down to how well the puzzles were made. Well, I'm happy to report the puzzles in this game are fantastic. Throughout the game, almost every single dungeon has a puzzle in it that you have to solve. However, the puzzles are a lot of fun in this game and incredibly thought provoking. Despite that though, the puzzles have the perfect balance. They aren't super easy to the point where they are mindless puzzles, but at the same time they aren't so ridiculously hard to solve that you'll be wanting to pull your hair out. I really loved the puzzles in this game. I had a blast solving just about every single one of them. Overall though, that's about it for the positive aspects. Now, I want to discuss the one only real minor flaw I have with Tales of the Abyss's gameplay...

Backtracking! Yes, that word I'm sure we all dread when we see. The very word that makes us have nightmares at night whenever we think about what the word means. This game is packed with backtracking. Later on, it begins to get rather aggravating at how much you have to backtrack. Despite that though, it's alleviated later on in the game. When you get a auto pilot feature later in the game that automatically takes you to places you've been to on the world map before. Which saves you a tremendous amount of trouble and annoyance when it comes to backtracking. Despite that though, it is still annoying doing all the backtracking manually before you get the auto-pilot feature. Aside from this one flaw though, I don't really have anything else to complain about regarding the gameplay. So, how's the gameplay?

Well, the gameplay is excellent. This game is a lot of fun from start to finish. Furthermore, the game is quite long and will last you a good amount of time. So, you'll definitely get your money's worth in terms of length. Not just that, but the game is packed with replay value due to New Game + and the plethora of sidequests the game contains. In addition, the puzzles are really well made and I greatly enjoyed solving them. Honestly, I don't really have much to complain about. I give the gameplay a 9.8/10 overall. Now for the storyline of Tales of the Abyss.

Storyline:10/10:The storyline of Tales of the Abyss is fantastic. Definitely one of the better RPG storylines out there. To begin with, the plot centers around a boy named Luke. Who is a member of the Royal Family that rules over a kingdom known as Baticul. He has amnesia and cannot recall anything about his past. Despite that though, Luke is a boy who has been sheltered his entire life. Due to his sheltered life, he has never really known what it's like in the real world outside of his kingdom. One day, his sheltered life completely changes. When after finishing a sword training session with his master Van, a woman comes out of nowhere and tries to kill him. However, Luke gets caught up in the middle of the battle and in the process, gets warped to an unknown location along with the mysterious woman who tried to assassinate Van. From there, the plot begins to take off. What starts off as a accident, soon turns into a journey to save the world. Now, I acknowledge that this is incredibly generic, but believe me the plot is incredibly good in this game. It may start off generic, but it gets a lot more intricate and original as the game goes on. In addition, the story remains compelling the whole way through. To say the least, I was hooked straight from the beginning. I was on the edge of my seat as I wanted to know why Luke was forced to live such a sheltered life, why the mysterious woman was trying to assassinate Van and where the storyline was headed from there. So what else makes the storyline so incredible? The characters.

This game definitely has one of the greatest casts of any RPG ever. Each of the characters are all incredibly interesting and well developed throughout the game. To add on top of that, each of them have their own distinct personalities and traits that distinguish them from one another. All of them are really likeable and change throughout the game in many different ways. Not to mention, each of them has their own motivations for why they join Luke in his quest to save the world. Every character has numerous secrets too that you discover about them throughout the game. Simply put, the game is loaded with plot twists. Not only are the main characters great, but so are the antagonists. The antagonists in Tales of the Abyss are all well developed. They have their own reasons they believe in for what they do and you can somewhat relate to them. In particular, the main antagonist is excellent.

The main antagonist of the game is definitely the best antagonist of the whole entire series and in general one of the greatest antagonists in any RPG ever. First off, the main antagonist doesn't take until way later in the game to figure out who they are. You have the main antagonist of the game revealed to you pretty early in the game. Around 30%. Furthermore, it's sort of a plot twist when you do discover who it is. Finally, the main antagonist is someone you can relate to. They aren't necessarily a completely evil person. Throughout the game, they are merely trying to accomplish what they feel is the right direction for the world to take. Meanwhile, throughout the game the main heroes are fighting for what direction they believe the world should be headed for. So, it's a battle of beliefs. Incredibly, the game's storyline causes you to really question who is right in the game. Since, it's not just necessarily a pure out battle of good vs. evil. Even the antagonists have somewhat decent reasons to stick the plans that they come up with throughout the game. It's not the generic simple evil plan of destroy the entire world because the antagonists are evil. it's far more complex then that and it even ties philosophy into the game. Which is a cool thing to do. Despite all these positives though, some people try to complain that the storyline has some major flaws. Such as the main character Luke.

Luke changes a lot throughout the game. Especially once you get around halfway through the game. A lot of people complain that he does a complete 180 on his character, but I disagree. He gradually changes at a fairly slow rate. Even as he changes, he still retains portions of his old self throughout the game. Eventually though, he does change really far into the game. However, a lot of people still try to twist things around and say it happens way too fast. Which I disagree with. To make things even more crazy, I didn't like the changes Luke goes through my first time playing through Abyss. However, upon replaying this game and finishing it a second time... I really liked how his character changed throughout the game. I thought it was awesome. In general, all of the characters change throughout the game and it's incredibly interesting to see how all of them do. Luke though, changes the most by far and it's fascinating to see the changes he goes through over the course of the game. He develops and changes a lot more throughout the game then a lot of RPG protagonists do and he does it in a believable way. If anything, my only minor flaw with the storyline is that Luke complains a little too much throughout the game. Despite that, it never really annoyed me to the point where it mattered. In general though, the storyline of this game is fantastic.

This game definitely has one of the best storylines ever. I greatly enjoyed the storyline from start to finish. Each of the characters were great. From heroes to antagonists, major characters to minor etc. Almost every single character in this game had a lot of charisma to them and were interesting. In addition, the game has a great main plot that begins generic, but quickly evolves to be anything, but that. The dialogue is well written and all of the characters are incredibly well developed throughout the game. A lot of the characters you can relate to in the game too. Overall, I give the storyline a 10/10. I really don't have any problems with it except one minor one. Being that Luke sometimes complains a little bit too much throughout the game, but it never really bothered me that much. The storyline of Tales of the Abyss gets a 10/10. Last, is the music of the game.

Music:10/10:Definitely one of my favorite game soundtracks of all time. Tales of the Abyss has an incredible soundtrack. Especially, the battle and boss songs. All of the battle/boss songs in the game are awesome. I love listening to them. In addition, the town songs and dungeon songs are just as great and memorable. Each of the songs in the game fulfill their intended purpose and enhance the atmosphere of the game. In addition, the voice acting in the game is excellent. Each of the characters are voice acted by familiar voice actors from anime and other video games. Last, the sound effects are great too. They suit their purpose fine and don't harm the game in anyway. Music receives a 10/10. So, how is Tales of the Abyss overall?

Overall:10/10:It's a fantastic game. Tales of the Abyss goes above and beyond in every aspect. The gameplay is fantastic and a lot of the new added features are great. In addition, the storyline is terrific. All of the characters are interesting and the main plot is quite good. Graphics of the game are also truly amazing. Extremely beautiful and definitely among the best PS2 games graphically. Last, the music in the game is incredible. I love the soundtrack and listen to it frequently. To add on top of that, the voice actors are great and fulfill their roles well. In conclusion, I give the game a 10/10 overall. This is a MUST PLAY for anyone who loves great games in general. If you are a fan of the Tales series and you haven't played this game...GO BUY IT NOW!!!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/23/11, Updated 09/16/11

Game Release: Tales of the Abyss (US, 10/10/06)


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