Cris Tales in the test: A declaration of love to JRPGs

Cris Tales in the test: A declaration of love to JRPGs

Cris Tales in the test

You don't see a Colombian JRPG every day. Of course it is not an original Japanese RPG, as it does not come from Nippon, but the first impression of the adventure suggests this. The developers of Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK see Cris Tales as a declaration of love for classic and modern role-playing games such as Final Fantasy 6, Super Mario RPG or Persona 5.

Table of contents

1 Timeless classics 2 Time is power 3 Back to the future, or is it the past? 4 waste of time?

Timeless classics

Right from the start, it cannot be overlooked that the developers were inspired by their favorite games. Final Fantasy can be easily identified as a direct role model. Not only because the name of the game suggests crystals that have a recurring relevance in the series and also play an important role in Cris Tales (buy now 39.99 €). But also because the story of Cris Tales and its imaginative world with its different peoples and kingdoms are a little reminiscent of the Square Enix games.

Recommended editorial content At this point you will find external content from [PLATTFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I agree that external content can be displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. A little orphan girl called Crisbell discovers, thanks to the help of a talking frog, that she is a time mage. The so-called time crystals, which enable time magic, play a major role in this. With her newfound strength, she foresees the destruction of the entire world by the evil empress of the time. Shocked, but still determined to avert the end of the world, Crisbell leaves her safe home Narim, with frog buddies Matias in their luggage. They go on a search for more time crystals, which are distributed in the different kingdoms of the country, in order to expand Crisbell's powers and thus defeat the time empress.

On their way they also meet different characters who are close to them join in to support Crisbell in her task and especially in battle. If you want to raise the accusatory plagiarism finger because the whole thing sounds copied from around 1000 other games, you should wait a little longer. Even if the makers were inspired by classics, they had their very own vision. The Empress of Time is as vicious as she is beautiful. Your goal is to destroy the capital Crystallis and the other four kingdoms in the region. Of course, she does not reveal her reasons for this. Source: PC Games

Time is power

If an opponent is too strong, there is sometimes only one remedy ... Source: PC Games Sure, the game mechanics seem very tough at first glance classic. As you roam the world of Cris Tales, you will encounter opponents in random battles that you must defeat in turn-based battles. By winning fights you collect experience points and marbles, which serve as currency. With the experience points, your characters in the group automatically level up and learn new and useful skills with each advancement. You use the currency for armaments and helpful items in shops or at wandering traders. Of course, none of this is particularly innovative. But now we come to the extraordinary part, because in a world in which time magic is possible, this must of course not be missing in the game mechanics.

Crisbell can actively use her time magic in combat, which she and her companions can do can be of great benefit to judicious use. Opponents on Crisbell's left side can send them into the past, opponents on their right into the future. For example, if the "adult" variant of an enemy causes difficulties, you simply send it back in time and instead fight against its younger and therefore weaker version. This time manipulation adds a fascinating twist to the fight, because it also allows you to use various combinations of attacks with your companions. The elementalist Christopher can soak armored enemies with a water spell. If these are then sent into the future, their armor rusts and they are vulnerable.

... a younger version of the enemy is usually weaker and easier to handle. Fortunately, magicians can send versions of themselves to different "time zones" to fight.

Source: PC Games Your companion Zas even changes her attacks, depending on what time the opponent is. During her journey, Crisbell gains more and more time resources, which she urgently needs, because the bosses she encounters in the course of the story demand well-thought-out tactics from you as a player. In addition, there is a time-based element to increase the damage dealt and reduce the damage taken, which is a bit reminiscent of the combat system of Paper Mario. A well-timed press of the action button can result in you doing more damage or blocking an incoming attack. Unfortunately, the time window for this aspect of the fight feels a bit confused. The animations of the opponents who initiate an attack are often far too short or nonexistent, and although the attacked hero is highlighted in color to indicate that an attack is imminent, this is often an opportunity that is simply missed This can have dramatic consequences in some later boss fights, as Crisbell and her group members can be partially wiped out with one or two hits. Timing gets a little easier as the game progresses and you better understand the various animations, but that's one aspect of the fight that we think could have used a little more development time.

If Crisbell were in a City, your screen will be split into three parts to reveal the past, present and future at the same time. Source: PC Games

Back to the future, or is it the past?

The boss monsters often have nasty attacks in store. With the right equipment and useful items, however, you can defend yourself well against them. Source: PC Games Crisbell's time manipulation also plays a role beyond combat. The feature proves the ingenuity and dedication that the Colombian team have put into the game. Although the plot isn't overly fancy, the writers manage to find interesting ways to play with the time-jump mechanic. As you explore the world, you see your surroundings in the present. But that changes as soon as you have entered a city. In the cities, Crisbell sees the past, present and future at the same time. For you, the screen is split into three parts and you see the same place on the left in its previous version, in the middle in the current state and on the right the future.

Crisbell can even send her amphibious friend Matias in the future or in the past so that he can take a closer look there and possibly obtain useful quest items or overhear conversations. Nice detail: Matias transforms into a tadpole in the past and into an old sluggish frog in the future. The inhabitants of the respective cities can also be seen in their different versions over time. So you can see how they have changed or will change over the decades. Often times there are points in history where Crisbell is given the opportunity to change the future for the better. For example, at the beginning of the game it is up to you to prevent rottenness from destroying buildings in your hometown.

But you have to decide which of the houses you want to save, because you cannot save all of them. You will be presented with additional options in the form of side quests during the game to change the course of the story and potentially make it better. And you should do that too, because the brighter the future looks, the more positive the end of the game will be for you.

Waste of time?

To travel from place to place, you use the beautifully illustrated upper world and move through it as a little Chibi-Crisbell. Source: PC Games In addition to beautiful ideas and a lot of charm, there are also some annoying aspects that gnaw at the fun in Cris Tales. The combat encounters are triggered randomly - and, frustratingly, quite often - which can be irritating if you're just trying to traverse a specific area for a side quest. On top of that, every battle is initiated by a relatively long loading time, and those extra five or six seconds before each individual battle add up over time. There are items that can prevent random battles, but you get these relatively late in the game. Cris Tales is also unnecessarily cumbersome with regard to the storage system. You can only save on the upper world map or at certain save points in the areas, and if the group is wiped out in battle, you lose all progress since the last save.

Each round you choose an attack, and that too is executed immediately. By pressing the action button in good time, your attacks can even be intensified. In the upper part of the screen you can see who will attack next. Source: PC Games RPG veterans are of course used to this, but the system is not up to date. To what extent you are bothered by such things is ultimately a question of personal taste, but unnecessarily archaic elements are not too scarce in Cris Tales. You can overdo it with the orientation to the great role models from the RPG past! In its entirety, Cris Tales still appears fresh, especially with a view to the production effort. The graphic style is similar to a pop-up book, the animations of the characters are hand-drawn, sharp geometric shapes and hyper-stylized character designs define the look. For the different "time zones" each scene and each character was made in several versions. There are also other versions in case Crisbell changes the future.

With so much effort, we also turn a blind eye to the fact that all residents of the cities have stayed in exactly the same place over the decades. Combined with the successful English voice output, the result is a fascinating world that casts a spell over the player. It's obvious the developers put a lot of time and effort into the game and it paid off. Cris Tales is not reinventing the RPG genre, but it does bring a level of innovation that makes the indie title unforgettable.

My Opinion

By Dina Manevich

Author One of the positive surprises of the year! Cris Tales managed to completely cast a spell over me. The graphic style is a matter of taste, of course, but I find after a while you get used to wandering around in a pop-up book environment. Even if the story ends a little abruptly, I enjoyed the adventure throughout. Not least because I mostly made fun of walking from left to right in the cities to see the different time versions and to think about how I can change the fate of the NPCs for the better. For me, the game is definitely one of the positive surprises of the year. Cris Tales (PC) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Cris Tales (PS4) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Cris Tales (NSW) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Cris Tales (XBO) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Cris Tales (PS5) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Cris Tales (XSX) 8/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pros & Cons Innovative time mechanics Lovingly designed and with a lot of effort Unique characters Decent scope Fluid animations Varied skills Nice humor Very classic RPG story Repetitive types of opponents Cumbersome Storage system Frustrating random battles More pros & cons ... Conclusion Cris Tales doesn't just warm up typical RPG mechanics, but brings innovation and heart with it despite quirks.

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