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Tales of Graces: TGS 2009 Hands-on

By Janelle | September 27, 2009 at 7:19 am

The Tales of Graces demo stations at TGS had two different demos of the Wii title available: a demo containing some world map and story sequences, and a dungeon demo. After selecting the dungeon demo, I feel like I made a poor decision, because it left me feeling frustrated, a little bit cheated, and with a negative impression of the demo overall.

With little explanation, the dungeon demo throws main character Esbel and company into a watery cave filled with slime monsters. The goal is to navigate through the cave to defeat the end baddie. Treasure was scattered along the paths, and the cave map itself was fairly simple and didn’t provide much of a challenge. The monster designs were really interesting, including some watermelon rabbits that spit seeds across the battlefield. The demo looked pretty and controlled smoothly, but it was clear that the dungeon was an excuse for the player to be subjected to a lot of combat.

I suppose the most bothersome thing about the demo was that it had a high emphasis on combat, but failed to really highlight the features of the system that might be appealing to those playing the game. There were a few minor tutorials on things like sidestepping, but other than that, the demo failed to explain the battle system. I know how the Tales of battle systems typically work, so it wasn’t that I had difficulty with the battles. It was more that I felt like the system had some complexities that would let me control how I approached battles, but those complexities weren’t highlighted. I pressed attack buttons, hundreds of rainbow flashes arced across the screen, and the battle was won, somehow.

Maybe it’s unfair to feel this way, but without the clear knowledge of the how and why of the battle system, a feeling of irritating repetition set in, and Tales of Graces felt like any generic action RPG ever. Pressing buttons with only a vague knowledge of what would happen (this will execute a normal attack of some kind, this is a dodge, this’ll unleash that blue shiny attack) but knowing that the battle would be won anyways just wasn’t fun. I know that past Tales of games have had battle systems where the player’s control, skill and style of play mattered in some way. I wanted to feel that about Tales of Graces, but the demo simply did not make me feel that way at all.

Topics: Namco Bandai, Previews, Tales of Graces, Tokyo Game Show 2009