Review: Tales of the Abyss

So, I’m going to carry on reviewing the Tales series because… no reason really.  I just feel like it, and they happen to be on my brain at the moment.

So, Tales of the Abyss was released in English on the Playstation 2, but I believe only in North America.  I know I had to import my copy anyway.  But it was also released worldwide for the Nintendo 3DS – exact same game but with only four save slots you can use.

This game takes place in the world of Auldrant, where everyone’s lives are dictated by the score – ancient prophecies foretelling the future for thousands of years and promising prosperity at the end.  Of course unlike real life prophecies, the score is actually pretty accurate, although somewhat like real life people sometimes have trouble interpreting it correctly and its occasionally only clear what it meant after the event.

Anyway, you play as Luke fon Fabre, who is… honestly, he’s the least likeable protagonist in any of the games.  I don’t really like the term ‘whiny little bitch’ I think if I was to use that phrase in real life to describe anything, it would probably be Luke.  Anyway, Luke is confined to his fathers mansion in the beginning but as he’s training with Man Master Van, the master of all things manly (I think I might have misread a line of dialogue… he’s called Van Grants), a mysterious woman infiltrates the mansion and attempts to assassinate the master.  Her powers cause some kind of resonance with Luke, teleporting them away.

Anyway, Tear Grants turns out to be the woman’s name, none other than the Man Master’s sister.  She is the best character in first part of the game because she’s as annoyed by Luke as I am.  I just wish she was the protagonist instead.  Anyway, they’ve been teleported to an enemy she agrees to help him get home.

On the way they run into Ion, the religious leader of this world, and a thirteen year old girl named Anise who is apparently a soldier and his bodyguard… I don’t know what kind of recruitment policy they have.  She joins your party later and in battle her doll grows really big and she rides around on it.  And even she’s not in Malkuth’s, the enemy nation’s, military she does take orders from Jade Curtiss, the Necromancer, who then arrests Luke and Tear just for being there.  Naturally he ends up as a friend too.

Later on, Luke reunites with his friend Guy, who is not gay (he suffers from gynophobia though, poor thing), and Princess Natalia Luzu Kimlasca-Lanvaldear.  The later seems like she’s going to be as annoying as Luke at first, but soon proves herself to be a compassionate and very capable leader, quickly taking charge of a situation when Luke typically fumbles.

I’ve been hard on Luke so far, and that’s mainly because he deserves it.  He does eventually decide to ‘man up’ for want of a better way of putting it, but only after causing the deaths of a hell of a lot people.

I don’t want to spoil the story too much, but Man Master Van turns out to not be such a great man after all.  I mean, his motivation does kind of make sense – wanting to free the world from the score.  But his ultimate plan and his methods really are despicable.

In addition to Van, there are six other god generals you fight.  Each one is obviously a nemesis/rival of one of the main party members.  Luke and Asche, Tear and Legretta, Anise and Evil Fluttershy, Natalia and Largo, Guy and Sync, Jade and Dist.

Actually, Evil Fluttershy isn’t really that evil and her name is Arietta.  Anise is all ‘yeah, it’s time to teach Arietta a lesson!’  And then, she kills her.  So… she didn’t learn anything at all.  Seriously, this is the first time in a video game I actually feel terrible about my party winning a battle.  It’s obvious Arietta is used and lied to, and I kind of resent the game for not offering a better option for dealing with her.  And the justification the characters use for having to kill her I just don’t really buy at all.  I think it’s just more of Van’s manipulation and lies (also, seeking a peaceful resolution would have better respected Ion, which is what the fight is all about anyway).  It all just makes me question the wisdom of recruiting thirteen year olds to be soldiers in the first place.

Unfortunately, that kind of highlights why I personally find this game to be the weakest I’ve played so far.  I don’t really like Luke as a protagonist, and too often I find myself just not agreeing with the choices the party makes.  There are still some good points, but it’s not my favourite Tales game.

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