As I had mentioned in one of my E3 posts, one of the games that came out of nowhere and caught my eye was the indie RPG, Cris Tales. Since a demo became available on Steam during the expo, I made a point of downloading it and giving it a shot while it was still fresh on my mind.
Cris Tales is a turn-based RPG in which the main character, Crisbell, works to prevent a calamity from striking her town by using her powers as a Time Mage. Cris can see the past, present, and future at once and manipulate one time period to affect the others. This ability can be used during combat as well as during interactions with NPCs and the environment.
- I love this game's art style. It's a nice hybrid of anime and the illustrations in a kid's storybook. The way the game visually divides the different time periods on a screen is a pretty neat effect. The game also does a good job of working its 2D designs into 3D environments.
- The animation looked a little choppy. I'm not sure if this is a style choice or a limitation of this early build of the game. I have a fast PC and was running the game on the low settings, so I don't think it was a performance issue.
- Combat is turn-based but also allows for timing-based button inputs to get critical hits (similar to the Paper Mario series). I think this has the potential to make battles more engaging, but I found the timing to be hard to judge. This may be due to the choppy animation.
- Using the time manipulation powers could lead to a lot of interesting possibilities in the full game. At one point in the demo, Cris sees that two NPCs homes will collapse in the future but only has the resources to save one of them with her time powers. The game makes it clear that who you choose to help will have consequences later. I'm curious to see how this will play out in the full game and what the true scope and impacts of decisions will be.
- In battle, the use of the time powers is usually pretty straight forward. Against standard enemies, you can increase or decrease their age to make them weaker. The boss in the demo, however, exhibits puzzle-like elements in battle. In this case, the foe is wearing impenetrable iron armor, but if you get it wet and move forwards in time, it will rust, making the enemy vulnerable. I'm interested to see what other kinds of time puzzles the full game will incorporate into boss battles.
- I had mixed feels about the story and dialog. Some of writing was entertaining, but I kind of felt like the characters were over-explaining things or talking down to the player. However, since this game seems to be going for a kid-friendly vibe, it could just be that I'm much older than the target audience for this game. Cut scenes are fully voiced but sounded a little stilted. I suspect this is because the game requires the player to press a button after each line of dialog, which adds extra pauses (Octopath Traveler had a similar issue). An auto-play option in cutscenes would definitely be nice.
- I played this demo on PC, but I think this game would be a good fit for Switch, so that will probably be my platform of choice if I end up getting the full game when it releases.
I came away from this hour-long demo really impressed by its art and intrigued by the possibilities its mechanics present. While I have some reservations about the story, I think it could improve as the game progresses. Cris Tales is slated to come out sometime in 2020, so I'll be sure to check in on it again then.
If you're interested in trying the demo of Cris Tales for yourself, you can find it on the game's Steam page.