Cris Tales is a Beautiful Time-Bending Blend of RPGs You Love
Cris Tales has overworlds and turned based fights like Final Fantasy, menus as flashy and intuitive as Persona 5, the timed hits of Mario RPGs, and the voice actress of 2B from Nier: Automata. What more could you want from an RPG?
Going into E3 I had little expectations for my Cris Tales appointment. For one thing, it was unannounced outside of a vague trailer from a few years ago, and for another indie RPGs are a dime a dozen and usually have trouble standing out. I was not sure what to expect, but after Cris Tales was officially unveiled at the PC Gaming Show I got a lot a lot more excited. It looked visually stunning and its time mechanic looked like not much else I had seen before.
After sitting through a presentation by the game’s developers at E3 and trying out its Steam demo for myself, Cris Tales has exposed itself as the indie culmination of several beloved RPG ideas. Not only that, but its unique Colombian flair and time shifting mechanics showcase a level of creativity and uniqueness that Cris Tales will not be an indie RPG that gets by solely on the strengths on its inspiration.
That being said, Cris Tales is not subtle in making its inspirations clear. 2D Final Fantasy-style battles where characters have health and magic points to fight enemies are present, as are overworlds to travel between important destinations. The menus clearly take a page out of Persona 5’s handbook in style, and the game features the timed hit system to block hits or make attacks stronger that is typically unique to Nintendo RPGs featuring Mario. While it isn’t gameplay related, the inclusion of 2B voice actress Kira Buckland as main character Crisbell should also turn the heads of some Nier: Automata fans.
Unlike other RPGs that would just stop there and call it a day, Cris Tales goes one step further and adds its own spin onto most of the aforementioned stuff. The world is certainly unique, with character and architecture designs heavily rooted in the Colombian culture from which the game stems. While pixel-art indie RPGs can look great, a fan like myself can still admit that this style can get repetitive. This is not the case visually with Cris Tales, especially when the time mechanics come into play.
Players control a young girl name Crisbell who follows a top hat wearing frog name Matias into a church after he steals a rose she is planting. Like a fairy tale, Crisbell is granted magical time bending abilities, likely due to her eerie resemblance to the goddess in the stained glass windows of the cathedral. Once this happens, she becomes a time mage that can see into the past, present, and future all at the same time. Yes, that means the developer had to draw most areas of the game in three different ways.
Of course, this opens up story and light puzzle opportunities as Matias can travel to the past as a small tadpole or jump into the future as a bigger frog for you. Crisbell will also have to make story changing decisions based on the information her abilities give her; hopefully, these moments will be compelling as the writing in the game’s demo is quite strong. Everyone in the demo is fully voiced and Kira Buckland gives a strong performance as Crisbell, so I have even more confidence in Cris Tales’ story.
Where these time mechanics get even more interesting are in turn based battles. While there are the clear Final Fantasy, Persona, and Super Mario RPG inspirations in battles, the fact that time can be manipulated adds another level of strategy on top of the typical things one would expect to see. Crisbell has an additional meter on top of her health and magic bars that she pulls from for time based mechanics. Typically, this ability is used to send enemies either to the past or the future. This will have various effects on the enemies as some are weaker when young and stronger when old or vice versa. That mechanic alone encourages experimentation with each new enemy the player encounters.
That being said, my favorite use of it is with status effects, a couple of which you can see for yourself in its demo. If you use a fire skill, it leaves a burn as one would usually expect. If you don’t manipulate time, it will do set damage every turn for a period of time. If you are keen enough to notice Crisbell’s powers send enemies to the future, you can do so with the burnt enemy and deal all that burn damage at once. Another example mandatory for a boss fight is dousing the enemy in water before sending them into the future to cause rust, leave said boss exposed. Once Cris Tales is released, I am looking forward to playing around with each new status effect I encounter and discover the most efficient way to use it in a fight.
Cris Tales was added to over 24,000 wishlists and over 20,000 people downloaded its demo in the first day, and it is easy to see why. The glamorous visuals and time mechanics give the game a special spin not typically seen in the scene of indie RPGs inspired by the JRPG classics. If you are a fan of any of the games I compared Cris Tales to or if the time manipulation piques your interest, I would highly recommend trying out Cris Tales and keeping it on your radar. It is certainly on DualShockers’.
Modus Games, SYCK, and Dreams Unincorperated’s Cris Tales is poised to release for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Ninendo Switch sometime in 2020 and will cost $29.99 at launch. If you want to see what all of the buzz is about, you can download the demo for free right now on Steam.