Four Stars out of Five
Tales of Hearts R
Summary : Whilst not the most original of JRPG's, and a little on the easy side, Tales of Hearts R is every bit the usual JRPG affair, and when it hits the right notes, it excels in every way.
Tales of Hearts R, developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Bandai Namco Games, isn’t wholly original, but neither does it pretend to be and the fact that it’s simply so “JRPG” lends it a lot of merits, as does the fact that the whole game is subtitled, leaving its Japanese audio intact. Whilst some may find this aggravating, I adore full Japanese audio for games like this, as poorly dubbed audio can really take the immersion away.
The game follows the tale of Kor Meteor, a young grandson of the legendary “Somatic” Sydan Meteor (the “Somatic” being a special brand of warrior) who is responsible for training Kor. Meanwhile over the sea, two siblings, Hisui Hearts and his sister, Kohaku, are fleeing from a powerful witch and end up washed onto the shores of young Kor’s hometown an getting separated, causing Kohaku to enlist the help of Kor to find her brother.
Tales of Hearts R, like many other RPG titles, gives you an overworld map with different cities and locations scattered throughout, and there are plenty of things to see and do outside story quests, such as shopping, speaking to NPCs, and battles both in and out of the overworld map and dungeons, which all look rich, vibrant and at some points, genuinely very pretty. But there are a lot of basic layouts and a rather sparse overworld map.
However, whatever Tales lacks in spectacle, it certainly makes up for in simply gorgeous design and deceptively interactive areas such as numerous hidden paths that deviate from the tracks, allowing you to explore throughout the game’s worlds, with secret areas and items scattered throughout the world in hard-to-reach places. There’s also a cooking mode that allows you to collect recipes and ingredients and create dishes, with each one giving you different benefits, like healing or damage buffs etc.
The battle system is one of the best action-based RPG fighting systems I’ve played in a long time, merging a seemingly simplistic, yet deeply complex battle mechanics that really improves on the flow and overall feel of each fight. As you align strategy, support and combat techniques, there are always numerous ways you can approach a battle, making each fight more diverse. Enemies also work together to counteract any strategy that you employ, such as spreading out their allies as you do, and even setting up chase if you or your team stray too far away. Every enemy type does this, and it’s a refreshing take, often requiring you to conjure up more tactics on the fly.
During battles, the X button performs your basic attacks, which you can link to special attacks (called Artes) which are then triggered by the O button and the right analogue stick. Attacks are fast and precise, whilst enemy switching is surprisingly fluid. One thing I found odd was that the jump command is set to the D-pad, yet, considering the fights break out in a 3D plane, there really is no use to the D-pad (you can use it, it just makes no sense). But overall, the controls, even for a Vita title, are pretty top-notch.
On the story side of things, whilst nothing outstanding, it is generally well written, and the game’s protagonist, Kor, is likable, and even though his entire drive is the standard love-fight/fight for love seen in most JRPGs, it generally stands up on its own. The support cast is great too, which is a blessing seeing as the story revolves around the concept of trust and honour, but it all plays into the mix nicely. The dialogue is really well written, with lots of humour, plus reasonably deep and meaningful fodder thrown in for good measure, and the cutscenes are mostly all in full anime videos, with a few using the games graphics engine.
Whilst not the most original of JRPG’s, and a little on the easy side, Tales of Hearts R is every bit the usual JRPG affair, and when it hits the right notes, it excels in every way.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00N46SH98] Powered by Sidelines