CrisTales (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PC)

Crisbell is a young girl who lives in a fantasy world full of monsters and magic.  She lives in an orphanage until one day she meets a talking frog.  The frog leads her to the local cathedral where her Time Mage powers awaken, which lets her see the past and future and manipulate them.  She has a vision of an upcoming war with a powerful Time Empress who is trying to take over the world.  So now with her talking frog and newfound friends, Crisbell embarks on an RPG adventure in CrisTales.  It’s available on nearly all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on Switch here.

At its heart, CrisTales is a typical, old school styled RPG.  You’ll gather clues and items in towns, explore an overworld, and tackle dungeon mazes full of monsters.  You’ll battle in turn based combat, using attacks, magic, and items to defeat enemies and keep you in the game.  While the story is fairly trite, it’s charming enough to keep you interested.  The cartoony style reminds me of shows like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and pretty much every line of text has good voice acting to go with it, which is impressive.  The game certainly has higher production values than many other indie titles.

You’ll use time manipulation in two main ways.  While exploring towns and certain areas, you’ll see the screen split into three parts.  The left shows the past, the middle is the present, and the right shows the future.  Sometimes you can make choices that can affect these areas.  For instance, in one town you’ll see the slums are completely underwater in the future.  However, there is a sick boy in the present who became ill from sewer water.  If you make him well, he’ll decide to be a plumber and fix the bad sewer water, and then in the future, the town isn’t underwater anymore!  Other times you can also send your frog friend into the past or future to pick up an item that might normally be lost to time.

You can also use time manipulation in battles, too.  Enemies on the left can be sent to the past, while the ones on the right can be sent to the future.  Some monsters can be weaker when they’re younger or older, but they may be better at magic.  You can also implement magic attacks this way, too.  Poison an enemy and send them to the future and the poison will have taken effect and that enemy will probably be defeated.  There is a boss early in the game who has a shield that keeps you from attacking them.  But if you use a water spell and send them to the future, they’ll be older and stronger, but the shield will have rusted and you can damage them!

But while CrisTales has good ideas and high production values, it has a lot of problems, too.  The ways you can use time in battle are cool, but you’ll hardly ever use them.  It’s mostly better to use your precious turns for straight up attacking.  Enemies are unseen in the dungeons, and battle rate encounters can be high at times.  Also, the game has a pretty steep learning curve.  Especially in the beginning where they don’t give you a chance to grind or buy healing items.  I had played the demo previously and knew what to do on the first boss, but it still killed me here!  Later on, you’ll get a chance to do more grinding, which you’ll have to do a lot to afford the best armor and level up.  But the slow load times and battle pacing make it feel like a bit of a slog.  The game claims it’s 40 hours long, but I think that’s because it’s so slow.  Also, you can only save at certain points, which is a PAIN!  I’m all for keeping classic sensibilities in games, but not being able to save when you want should just go away.  There’s no reason why you can’t do it here.  If you can look past these problems, you’ll have a decent little RPG on your hands.  I just wish they could’ve ironed out some of the gameplay problems to make it really great.

Kid Factor:

CrisTales is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Mild Language.  You battle people and monsters with weapons and magic, but defeated enemies just stoop over and disappear.  Characters do use bad language from time to time in the story.  Even though the game is fully voiced, reading skill is still needed for the menus.  Because of the high difficulty and learning curve, this game is best for pre-teens and older players experienced in RPGs.

One Response to “CrisTales (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PC)”

  1. too bad this one isn’t so good. Maybe someone will build on what they did.

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