Cris Tales is an intense turn-based RPG with dazzling visuals and a charming, if flawed story.
Time is a fragile thing. Rarely can choices we make be undone and even more rarely do we see how far each one can ripple in our life. Cris Tales by Dreams Uncorporated allows you to see what was and what could be through the eyes of your time-hopping protagonists. Using this unique perspective, you can influence the world around you and change the future.
You are Crisbell, a young orphan in the service of Mother Superior. One day, a small frog snatches her rose, and upon finding the orange amphibian, her world changes. Crisbell finds out she is a Time Mage from her new talking frog friend and is soon swept up in a whirlwind adventure to save all of reality. During her journey, Crisbell is joined by many companions. These include Willhelm the Nature Mage and a mysterious robot from the future, who will not only aid her in combat but help her control her newly-discovered powers.
As a Time Mage, Crisbell uniquely sees the world in a fragmented way. She sees the past, present, and a possible future all at once, giving you insight into how things have and could change. Using this gift, you’re able to alter the future with Crisbell and her party for the better whenever you can find out how. Your frog friend Matias can also be sent back or forward in time, hopping through any time period to gain information or useful items. This is all backed up by a fully voiced cast of characters and a beautifully stylized world, giving Cris Tales a top-notch presentation.
Combat is turned-based and intense. Right before an attack connects, from either you or your opponent, you’re able to tap the A button on the Switch to either mitigate damage from an enemy hit or deal more as you attack them. Each attack has 3 different intensities and with perfectly timed button taps it’s possible to always land critical hits or mitigate tons of damage with parries. This is true for nearly every attack and magic spell you’ll encounter, so it’s worth the time it takes to master it. Especially since taking the full force of an enemy attack can result in a huge loss of life and negative status effects.
Crisbell’s time magic also plays a combat role. When enemies surround you, on the left side of the screen you are able to send them to the past while you can send enemies on the right to the future. This can completely change the enemy you’re fighting, aging them back or forward to give them less experience or decrepitude from old age to give you the edge. You’re also able to use this power to combo off of the abilities of your allies. A seedling planted in the past will be fully grown when brought into the future and someone you poison in the present will have already suffered the effects when you thrust them into the future. This system is best shown off in the boss fights, making most of them stand-out experiences.
While Cris Tales is a long game with a ton of content, it has quite a bit that holds it back from greatness. While combat is deep and flashy with complex combo systems, it’s also slow and unrewarding. Normal enemies are found via random encounters while dungeon diving and can be quite difficult to fight, but rarely offer anything of worth and only reward a low amount of experience and money upon defeat. When combined with frame rate issues and crashes on the Switch, this will lead to you fleeing more often than fighting since defeat is always possible and often not worth the time spent or reward earned.
The game also has a very bad pacing problem. The story is told in a fragmented way in the beginning and only begins to come together about 6 hours in, after the first two towns. Until then, you’ll be treated to tons of combat interruptions and awkward world-building situations that serve to break immersion rather than build it up. These may also include jarring moments where you may be asked to make a choice, but have it be automatically made because you missed a side objective. This is a shame, as Crisbell’s journey is a heartfelt one that can be replayed for a different flavor of ending.
Cris Tales is quite the mixed bag, all things considered. The visuals are beautiful and come to life when backed up by the voice acting, making it easy to lose yourself in the brightly-colored world. Combat is also engaging, especially during boss battles where you’re rewarded for good planning and using the various systems to combo up big damage. These elements are undermined, however, by poor story pacing, slow and unrewarding combat flow, and a few technical issues such as frame rate drops on the Switch. While it makes an excellent first impression, Cris Tales is a hard game to stick with till he end.
– Beautiful visual style
– Fully voiced cast of characters
– Epic boss fights
– Slow Combat
– Poorly paced story
– Frame rate issues on Switch
3 out of 5
Review code provided by Tinsley PR. Cris Tales is Out Now!