Tales of Arise is one of those video games that you just won’t be able to put down. From the get go, this game draws you in with an intriguing narrative and then, it just never lets up. You’ll be hooked and before you know it, it’s suddenly 3am and you’re still playing the game. However, is it the best in the series?
The story of Tales of Arise kicks off with players being shown a brief introductory video about the history of the planet Dahna. 300 years ago, Rena, a world with advanced technology, attacked Dahna and subjugated its people. The Renans divided up the world of Dahna into five distinct kingdoms, each ruled over by a Renan Lord. Fast forward to the present and not much has changed with the Renan’s still ruling over the world.
Players will take on the role of "Iron Mask" in the Kingdom of Calaglia. Calaglia is ruled by one of the five Renan Lords, Balseph. Balseph, owner of the “Fire Core”, rules over Calaglia without any mercy for the weak and has enslaved the local non-Renan population to mine ore day in and day out. “Iron Mask” is one of the enslaved and has been toiling away in the town of Mosgul without any memory of his past or even his real name. Renan soldiers are everywhere in Mosgul and they ensure that the slaves work themselves to the bone.
The next three paragraphs contain spoilers for the game’s introductory sequence so look away if you want to go in blind without knowing any major early story details.
“Iron Mask”, as the name suggests, wears an iron mask on his face which cannot be removed. He also miraculously cannot feel pain. After slaving away in the pits of Mosgul one day, “Iron Mask” awakes to his newly assigned task of pushing a freight train along with some other slaves. However, another freight train nearby is attacked by a group of rebels and this is when things escalate quite quickly.
In the freight train being attacked, a mysterious woman with long light pink hair wearing a white dress is chained up. The rebels break her free but she electrocutes one of them when he grabs her. She then flees by jumping into a ravine. She ends up in the cargo container of the freight train “Iron Mask” is pushing and the Renan soldiers quickly rush in to seize her. “Iron Mask” decides to save the woman and gets dragged into the rebel’s plan of action as they make their escape.
After a brief spat with the soldiers, both our hero and the mysterious woman end up at the rebel’s hideout and the game truly begins. The mysterious woman is revealed to be a Renan known as Shionne and has been cursed with “Thorns” which electrocute anyone who gets too close to her. The rebel hideout gets attacked and on the way out, something strange occurs when Shionne is hit in the chest by an arrow fired from a soldier. “Iron Mask” tries to pull the arrow out but is instead able to pull a flaming sword out of Shionne’s chest. The soldiers are defeated and Shionne explains that she carries the “Master Core” within her. She then decides to team up with “Iron Mask” because of his special ability and explains that she plans to take down Lord Balseph as well as the other Renan Lords that rule over Dahna. Stating anything further ventures too deep into spoiler territory and is best experienced for yourself when playing the game.
The story of Tales of Arise focuses heavily on the five distinct Kingdoms of Dahna. The game is effectively broken up into five chapters this way since each kingdom features its own environment and major plot points that occur. Tales of Arise’s story starts off in Calaglia and progresses at a slow but steady pace.
The lore built up in Tales of Arise is extensive and there’s an immense amount of effort that’s been put into the world-building here.
The battle system will feel familiar to anyone that’s played a previous Tales game but Tales of Arise incorporates enough new mechanics into the combat to keep things fresh.
The game’s stunning environments practically beg for you to explore every single nook and cranny since each area in the game is flat-out gorgeous.
Gamer, writer, self-proclaimed chemistry hobo. Always looking to make use of a good pun in the name of fun.
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Bandai Namco Studios
Bandai Namco Entertainment
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
10 September 2021
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