Cris Tales is an indie game announced at E3 2019 that I’ve been looking forward to. The development from a small studio in Colombia incorporates not only the cultural characteristics of the creators, but also serves as a tribute to classic JRPGs like Chrono Trigger , Final Fantasy and Persona . At the center of an unusual story is a fantasy world immersed in the era of a time war. The time mages are fighting a mysterious empress who wants to destroy the kingdom of Crystallis, and only a select group can defeat the mighty evil and restore the destroyed world.
The main character of this story is an orphan from Narim orphanage named Chrisbell. One warm summer day, she meets the talking frog Mathis, who awakens in her the power of a time magician. Together with another wizard, Wilheim, and the brave knight Christopher, the girl sets off on a dangerous journey through the ancient cathedrals, accumulating strength for the decisive battle.
Cris tales positions itself as a “western JRPG”. At the same time, a significant part of the playing time is spent on exploring the surrounding world, searching for clues and solving other people’s problems. As the story progresses, so does Chrisbell’s strength. At the very beginning, the girl can move the Mathis the frog in time, taking out magic apples from the future or picking flowers in the past. Later, she gains the ability to change the space around her, restoring or destroying elements of the environment. Naturally, the decisions made in the course of these manipulations and the tasks performed have an impact on the world. The building preserved now may affect the lives of ordinary people in the future, as well as the choice of a worthy ruler instead of the evil emissary of the Empress. And although the game constantly reminds you that everyone cannot be saved.
Manipulations over time are used not only during the exploration of the environment, but also directly in battle. For example, by pouring water on a boss protected with a metal shield, you can move it to the future, where the shield will rust and the protection will weaken. You can send the enemy into the past, where he is much weaker, or poison a strong enemy with poison and transfer him to the future, where he will have to die from damage and old age.
In addition to combinations, elemental magic can be added over time. So, a wet enemy takes much more damage from lightning magic, especially if sent to the future. As befits a trendy JRPG, all battles in the world of Cris Tales take place in turn-based mode. The sequence of moves of your heroes and opponents is shown at the top of the screen. The player must choose the type of attack, support magic or defense and end the turn. Some characters, like Chris, are capable of inflicting additional damage if you press the right button in time. This also works during attacks on your command – by pressing the button at the right moment, you can block or repel the enemy’s attack.
As the story unfolds, it will be possible to improve the power of weapons in special stores and buy bonus pendants for it. So, one of the latter adds poison damage, the other enhances the ability to penetrate the enemy’s defense. Items of equipment such as rings, boots, bracers and necklaces can be found at levels or bought, but the weapons of the characters in the store are only getting better.
Magic abilities, like passive skills, swing exclusively with a new level. By the middle of the game, pumping becomes central to story progress, but the local approach is not very harsh towards the player. To defeat a level 15 boss, it is enough to have a level 7-8 character. In addition, during the fight, no one forbids the use of temporary tricks and combined magic. At the same time, with the development of heroes, potions for the most part become useless – you almost always have enough magic, and spells of healing and removing negative effects take only a couple of units from hundreds of points of magic. Even mana potions are not required during long maze journeys. So all bottles can be safely sold in a local store, investing money in the development of personal weapons.
On the other hand, the game requires expensive disposable tents for rest and recovery, so sometimes it’s easier to walk and level up, replenishing your mana pool, and save at the checkpoint at the boss. By the way, saving is possible only in special places and on the world map. The bosses turned out to be diverse and often offer to use unique mechanics to win. Some of them are composed of several parts, such as Chimera, while others try to use forbidden magic to distract attention.
Graphics and design are one of the greatest strengths of Cris Tales. Drawn like a cartoon, the game is combined with tranquil classical music to create a dreamlike atmosphere that is a pleasure to dive into. Cris Tales perfectly conveys the atmosphere of classic games, dragging players in with the opportunity to influence the world around them and the further fate of the characters. The battle system, which seems to be difficult at the initial stages, by the middle of the game becomes as accessible as possible thanks to the development of characters and a decrease in the level of difficulty. This is noticeable even when comparing the demo and the final version. The final release of Cris Tales will be significantly more player-friendly, which will be good news for newbies. And in this case, this one can only be welcomed.
Thanks to interesting characters, a vibrant world and the most interesting use of magic tied to time, Cris Tales is able to captivate and not let go until the very end. It was not created in Japan, but after completing it, it may well make you want to get to know more about the wonderful world of classic Japanese RPGs. An example of a really noteworthy indie release.
Thanks to interesting characters, a vibrant world and the most interesting use of magic tied to time, Cris Tales is able to captivate and not let go until the very end.