I’m about 8 hours into Tales of the Abyss 3D and really enjoying it. It’s very cool to have access to such a huge RPG in the first year of a new system. The first real RPG in 3D is a pretty big deal, and the effect is done well in this game. It’s quite basic compared to most 3DS games i’ve played, but really adds to the presentation. The simplicity of having spoken text pop-out to the front of the environment is enough to make turning on the 3D worthwhile. The 3D is barely noticeable in battle and on the horrendously ugly world map, but it’s still worth keeping on because it’s un-intrusive (much like Steel Diver). The world map is really bad though.
What the fuck is this? It’s ugly, texture-less and empty, yet somehow all this action is enough to slow down the framerate to a crawl. It feels like the 3DS is about to explode when I move the camera a few degrees. I don’t know why they even bothered making it 3D, you can barely make out anything in the background. At least a 2D overworld would be functional.
Ah, much better! The 3D really shines inside houses and in towns, the effect is strong and impressive to look at – it brings a lot of life into the game world! There’s an odd sensation that you’re actually sitting in the room with them when they have a conversation in a house.
If only the story itself was a bit more interesting, it has quite a contrast for me so far. I wont spoil anything, but I find the magic fonstones / fonic hymns concept ridiculously stupid beyond belief, and my tolerance for ridiculous things in RPGs is pretty high. Despite this, I really like the main character and his perspective of the world – the unique way he socialises with the other characters highlights how their values conflict. Naive but brave – Luke doesn’t understand a lot of concepts in the real world because of a sheltered upbringing, and often shocks people with his actions. He looks like a complete idiot but i’ve somehow gotten used to that in JRPGs. The dialogue is funny, engaging and there’s a lot of it, I was surprised when I first played it that all the lines are voice acted. Sure – the console games all have it, but it’s impressive to hear on a handheld. The music is great too, very typical Motoi Sakuraba with a few interesting new melodies that sound outside his normal style.
It has gameplay too. I’m no expert on RPG battle systems but I enjoy them, I find this simple and fun so far. I like hitting things and I like the ability to hold L to run around on a 3D plane and take angles on enemies. There’s not much to say since I haven’t even started looking for the depth yet, every battle has been easy. During battle, energy circles open up, and you can do special elemental attacks while standing in them. A fun idea, but so far there hasn’t been a single situation where an elemental attack I had could be used effectively. I suspect this will be used heavily later on in boss fights.
Overall Tales of the Abyss 3D is a really comfortable game to sit down with, and i’m looking forward to getting deeper into it. Definitely a worthy RPG experience, though so far not as compelling as other RPGs and Tales games i’ve played – mainly due to the main story theme making no sense at all, and a few dull supporting characters i’d rather not have to listen to.