A sweeping saga that merges a large-scale RPG with series-length anime cutscenes, "Tales of Arise" is a meaty endeavor that sates the thirst of series fans with dozens of hours of robust thrills, emotional hooks and bewildering twists.
No longer content to tread water with mild disappointments, Bandai Namco Games focused its collective energy on highlighting the franchise's strengths and minimizing its weaknesses.
With every bit the care that, say, Square Enix takes with mainline 'Final Fantasy" games," the devs channeled heart and intelligence into every aspect of the production. Every moment you spend with the game feels as though you are in the hands of master storytellers with something to say, as well as abundant talent to spirit you through the story.
"Tales of Arise" has the feel of a magnum opus. Although maybe the game is a bit too in love with its storytelling -- cut scenes can be a touch long-winded and laborious -- it feels like an affront to the talent on display if you choose to skip them.
Required grinding is kept at a minimum, and the combat -- which has not necessarily been a strong point of past entries -- is involving enough not to bore you. Rewarding masters of skilled orchestration akin to real-time strategy, the system discourages button-mashing while elevating the need for resource management and the strength of active and support party members in tactical roles.
A towering challenge, "Tales of Arise" can be intimidating who aren't able to mentally and spiritually commit to the entirety of the journey. But even for a casual sampler, there are rewards to be had in the experience. Miss "Tales of Arise" and you will lose out on one of the shining gems of the 2021 gaming year.
Publisher provided review code.