Tales of Graces f is a Japanese Role-Playing Game (jRPG) that follows the story of Asbel Lhant, a young man looking for the strength to protect the ones he loves. From childhood into adulthood, Asbel and friends face many hardships: the world is plummeting into war and a great evil has emerged. If you’re a jRPG lover, this game is right for you. If you’re new to the jRPG genre, you might find the system too alienating for you to jump right in and enjoy the game.

The game is an enhanced port of the 2009 release on the Nintendo Wii. The 12th installment in Namco’s illustrious Tales series, this port to the PlayStation 3 boasts improved graphics, enhanced game play elements and an extra ten hours of content.

Tales of Graces f is a very Japanese jRPG. Everything from the music to the art style to the game play is geared towards the kind of player that loves jRPGs. Though the story isn’t ground-breaking, it is solid – keeping you interested, even if the actual writing and dialogue is adequate at best. In typical jRPG-style, it has a party system, a battle system and collections galore. The four-person party system has you switching 6-7 individuals in and out based on skill sets and a desire to not allow anyone to fall behind level-wise. As a jRPG, it does a lot of things well, but it rarely pushes the envelope to further the genre as a whole.

One thing I really liked was that the game doesn’t just use the same ol’ tropes of “warrior, mage, thief, etc.” Instead the focus is on the types of moves the individuals can do during a battle. There are two types of skill sets called “Artes.” Called A-Artes and B-Artes, they are more like weak attacks and strong attacks, respectively. Asbel’s Artes, for example, embody both melee styles of fighting, whereas his brother Hubert employs melee A-Artes and short-range pistols for his B-Artes attacks. You can only play as one person during a battle, but the game allows you to pick the character you wish to play. During the battle itself, Tales has moved away from the traditional turn-base format to an action-oriented system that is pretty frenetic. While it seems like a lot of button-mashing at first, there is some depth and strategy to the moves you use and when to deploy them. You build up these skills by earning and mastering titles.

Having and earning titles is just one of the many collections you can work on in Tales of Graces f. Each title has 5 levels with each level either boosting a skill, a base statistic or providing a new skill. At the end of every battle, you earn skill points (SP). Those skill points are then deposited into your active title moving you closer to that title’s next level. Balancing your title growth is important as each title has different SP requirements and could hinder you for not focusing on developing your characters properly. I really enjoy the title system as you can earn a variety of titles for accomplishing different tasks, using skills, progressing the story or simply just playing for a certain period of time. Other collections in Tales include cooking, weapon fusing and finding landmarks called Discoveries.

Overall, Tales of Graces f is a solid jRPG. It provides many hours of content for the main story-line as well as providing a collection / side story system that will keep you entertained along the way. Unfortunately, even with all these pluses, Tales of Graces f will only really appeal to a player that enjoys and embraces a Japanese Role Playing Game. Those unfamiliar to the genre may find themselves frustrated and confused by the story and mechanics; they also may (like my wife) be completely annoyed by the cutesy music, art style and voice acting. Personally, I really enjoyed the game – so, if you are into jRPGs like I am, give Tales of Graces f a definite look.

Tales of Graces f was developed and published by Namco Bandai exclusively on the PlayStation 3. It is set to release in North America on March 13, 2012 and retails for $59.99. For this review, I played for approximately 30 hours and am on the verge of completing Chapter 5 in the game.

Related Links:
Tales of Graces F Intro Montage

Tales of Graces F [Commentary] Gameplay First 30 Minutes

Tales of Graces f Official Game Page

Tales of Graces f Friendship Trailer