During the time I’ve been playing this game, I’ve been wondering if it’s really all that bad to be average. Why? Well, that’s because Tales of the Abyss, the only JRPG on the Nintendo 3DS, is average. When you get it on pen and paper, it’s a by-the-book JRPG, with everything you’d expect to see in one of these. However, I don’t exactly think that it makes it a bad game. Whilst the game itself is good, it’s nothing that haven’t seen before and nothing that we haven’t all experienced before.If I were to create a word for this game, it would be “good average”.
I mentioned that it has everything you’d expect to see, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It has amnesia, a tsundere, a young girl, a beautiful spell caster, a princess, a misguided religion…the list goes on and on. The writers probably couldn’t decide on what cliché’s that they wanted to use, so they randomly drew a bunch out the pot, and when they found out that those fitted into the story really well, they tipped the entire pot upside down and took them all. However, it doesn’t feel like it’s a mish-match of cliché’s or that it’s something ridiculous, because it’s written really well.
The writing is, to be frank, top notch. The dialogue in the games is consistently enjoyable, with some of the inter-character conversations actually being downright hilarious. Despite them being walking cliché-bags, they’re really well fleshed out and their stories are really well implemented, despite the fact that it drip-feeds you the backgrounds of them as you plod through the giant story. Everything which I’ve said for the characters can also be applied to the main story, with the only small problem being one which really bugged me. It never used the full impact of events where it should have, and it overused the events which it shouldn’t have…and regrettably, this leads to a plot hole or two here and there.
The gameplay is pretty generic nowadays, just like the story. However, in the fashion which appears to be emerging, that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. Whilst I may have needed to Google one or two things about how to do this and how that worked, it doesn’t mean that it’s exactly bad…just badly explained. Things like the Mystic Arts are hard to figure out, just like the way that they’ve implemented stealing. Heck, even after finishing the game, I don’t know if you can change the party member you control in-battle, or if you need to change it through the out of the battle menus. It’s niggling things like this which really do annoy me, and that’s a shame when you think of how close they were to getting this type of gameplay nailed.
When you put everything together, Tales of the Abyss should be a complete failure. However, it’s not. This is partly due to the brilliant writing, and partly due to how well everything ends up coming together. To use an analogy, it’s like throwing a book in the air and it opens on the page that you were reading. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s really difficult, and my hat goes off to the team for managing to accomplish this. However, as more and more JRPG’s come to the Nintendo 3DS, it’s only a matter of time before Tales of the Abyss gets overshadowed and eventually forgotten.