This week I’m reviewing Tales of Hearts R, an excellent addition to the Tales of series.
Story and Characters:
If I were to describe this game’s story in two words, they would be safe, and concise, neither of which is a bad thing. None of the events feel superfluous, or drawn out, and the story is both enjoyable and well written, it just doesn’t offer anything new, and if you are at all familiar with the series, or even the genre, none of the twists will be particularly surprising.
While I find the character designs a little lacking, the characters themselves were very likeable and fun, if a little standard, there is only a little bit of irrelevance, and they actually address it in game. If nothing else, it’s a good sign when I have difficulty picking which characters I want in my party because I like them all.
This game is fun, this game is very fun, it puts me very much in the mind of Symphonia and Vesperia, which if you are familiar with my opinions on the Tales of series, you will know as a very good thing. The dungeons have puzzles, proper puzzles, which is something I missed in the more recent games, and while the puzzles themselves are a little too easy, they are not frustratingly so.
Combat is where this game really shines though, for the most part it’s pretty much the standard 3D Tales of battle system, you have a circular arena to move around in, you use X to attack, and O to a special attack, and these can be altered with use of the directional buttons, it’s fun, it’s simple and it works, and each game in the series has it’s own addition to change it up a bit. What this game has is the chase link system, and while specifics of it are a little hard to explain, it basically allows you to preform huge combo chains with ease, as well as offering some other attacks. The combat however is not without it’s flaws, the party AI options have been stripped down to almost nothing, and maybe it was just how I was playing, but the combat itself seem notably slower, it most Tales of games standard encounters would take between 20-25 seconds to complete, but in this game they would take around 30-40 seconds, it’s minor thing but it does add up.
I stand with what I said about the soundtrack in my first impressions post, in that there is nothing standout about it, either good or bad. It’s not bad, it’s pleasant enough to listen to, but there is nothing to compel me to want to download the soundtrack, or even to want to keep the sound on while playing.
If I have one complaint in terms of sound though, it’s in one of their decisions in using the Japanese voices. I have no problem with them using the voices, though I know it is a point of contention for many people, the problem I have is their decision to change one character’s name. To hear one name and read another bothers me greatly, and while I know he was given that changed name in the Graces F cameo battle, the other characters who also appeared in that battle had their names changed there as well, but got to keep their original names it Hearts R, there is no consistency, and their decision makes no sense to me.
Furthermore in regards to their use of the Japanese voices, I noticed several instances where the text and the spoken dialogue was out of sync, so the voices did not match with who was currently speaking at the time. Also the fact the some skits were voiced and some weren’t confused me, as I was unable to work a common link or probable cause for it.
This game is very visually appealing, it runs smoothly, and the game’s world is vibrant and pretty, it makes excellent use of the Vita’s capabilities. The cutscene discrepancy, in that some were square while others were rectangle, and the noticeable variation in quality between them, did bring it down a bit for me though, as while it was nice that they included what I assume were scenes from the DS version, it makes the game feel unpolished and the developers look lazy. Aside from that though I was very impressed with this game’s visual presentation.
Ranking within the series:
Vesperia > Symphonia > Xillia 2 > Hearts R > Xillia > The Abyss > Eternia > Graces F > Symphonia : Dawn of the New World
If you have a Vita and like jrpgs I would definitely recommend picking up this game, there is however one thing I feel I should note though, for a Tales of game this game is short. If you don’t do the sidequests or postgame, then you are looking at around 25 hours at best, which compared to the usual 40 hours or so of most Tales of games, is not a lot. It is however a very fun game, and the postgame looks to have a lot to offer, if you have the opportunity I would definitely recommend giving it a chance.
Also it has Wonder Chef, I missed Wonder Chef and his awesome disguises.