OK, so before you start groaning: yes, this is another Japanese role-playing game (or “J-RPG,” as they are known to fans). And, as such, you can expect a gratuitous amount of big-eyed androgynous caricatures, goofy-looking critters to combat, and — most importantly of all — fun. For those of you who are utterly confused by the weird-ass title here, Tales of Graces f is one of those literal translation jobs, and the “f” in this case stands for “future.” The game, one of many in the long-running Tales series that started in 1995, transports us to planet called Ephinea — where a seemingly-genderless knight by the handle of Asbel encounters an amnesiac lass.
Along with his brother, the slightly-masculine Hubert (you can only be slightly manly with a name like Hubert, after all), and girlfriend-to-be Cheria band together in an attempt to retrieve the as-yet-nameless girl’s memory. Why? Because that’s how JRPGs roll, kids: people meet, unite, and head out for adventure on the slightest of impulses. And so, Asbel and Co. travel from their home kingdom of Windor (wherein Asbel is the eldest son of Baron Aston) to the remote regions of places with names like Strahta and Fendel. The game itself is divided into chapters. We start with a flashback prologue — with our heroes and heroines as children — before eventually moving into modern (well, futuristic) times, but the opening chapter alone takes a good sixth of an entire day to accomplish. For realsies.
And, of course, that might be Tales of Graces f‘s (geez, that just doesn’t sound right no matter what) greatest saving grace (pun not really intended, but I’ll go ahead and say that it was): you definitely get your money’s worth here. You can waltz into a dungeon during your journey, fight all the various forces that would love to see your heads planted firmly on spikes in their garage, and crawl out several hours later — only to find that you still have a lot of game left to love (side quests included!). The battles themselves are fairly traditional for J-RPGs: you and your crew get to improve your respective abilities from experience, using Command Points to perform attacks and all that jazz. Moreover, there are four levels of difficulty to enjoy here, though the hardest — appropriately named “Evil” — is locked at the beginning of the game. These are fruits you just can’t taste yet, kiddies!
Strangely enough, Tales of Graces f didn’t make it to the US until well over a year after its release in Japan. Fortunately, it has found a home in North America at last, and there are plenty of bored RPG players out there who will no doubt appreciate the adventures this game has to offer.
Tales of Graces f is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: Wii.