While it’s true, I ended up scattering many of my plans to the winds, excitement for Tales of Arise carried on through and I’ve been able to spend about 13 hours with it since it came out with the Friday just been.

For a JRPG, that’s barely enough time to get your feet wet, but I already love it. I’m not alone in that, it seems, with Steam reviews currently sitting at 92% positive.

There is just one thing stuck in my craw about it though. Hoo boy am I glad I didn’t know about this before purchase as it may have been enough to make me think twice. What? Well; a rather questionable set of DLC options. It’s rather reminiscent of the ability to buy an XP boost in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Except, in this case, taking that idea and running for the hills with it.

You can buy levels. Gald (the game’s currency). Skill Points (SP) used to unlock abilities. Artefacts with abilities like earning double XP or SP. Or perhaps just buying a flat +1,000 max HP for the entire party. It’s insane. I didn’t remember any of this being available for Tales of Berseria but I went back to check, and… Yeah, a lot of this stuff was, although it was bundled a bit differently and perhaps slightly less in your face.

This is one of the opening scenes of the game, but fortunately, it didn’t come to represent how the developers viewed the player.

Digging into the reviews for these items, and the recurrent comment is — don’t claim these items in-game if it’s your first time through. They will annihilate the game’s difficulty. They’re really there for players who want faster repeat runs. There are no balancing decisions made to… shall we say, ‘encourage’ players, to go out and buy these things.

Which is good to hear, and has also matched my experience so far. In my time with the game, I’ve made it through the first two ‘Lords’ and into the third territory, where I’m still unlocking additional game mechanics it seems.

The second Lord was a somewhat difficult fight, and they were above my party’s level — but this seems to be by design. When you encounter these characters, they are meant to be, as individuals, more powerful than you. But your team as a whole is there to help and ultimately win the day.

Since this image, I’ve managed to grow my party to four. Which is excellent, because you can have four actively fighting characters at a time.

So far, I’ve been playing as Alphen (aka Iron Mask) pretty much exclusively. I say ‘pretty much’ because there has been the odd time when, er, I’ve died and haven’t had the necessary ‘CP’ (a limited resource needed for healing and resurrection skills) to revive. In those cases, I’ve had to fumble my way through a fight using Shionne with mixed results. xD

Every character, you see, has their own unique skill-set. One of the staples of the series is to select the Artes (skills) you use and how they chain together. This chaining is a little simplified in Arise vs. Berseria, but is paired with other unique features in how they dodge, or guard, or enter their respective ‘overpower’ states and then even what those states do, exactly.

I’ve been playing with Alphen’s skills as I unlock or discover them (there are ‘Hidden Artes’ which unlock after certain conditions of use around the base Artes, for example) so have a pretty good grasp on his kit. Not so much with the others yet — which may well be a pretty compelling reason for replaying the game, although I’m also sure that before I’m done with this playthrough I’ll switch up the leader a bit more and try to get a little more comfortable at playing the others.

These prisms directing light into the tower initially reminded me of Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series.

I can’t wait to play more. The DLC on offer apparently isn’t enough to sour that, now that I’m in.

I really, really want to see what else is yet to be unlocked systems wise, too. I know of at least a couple of things I haven’t got yet from some of the earlier trailers and I’ve just now discovered from a Combat 101 video that I’ll eventually unlock more bind slots for combat Artes later on too. That will certainly open up some more options. :D Already thinking about what I might add to Alphen’s kit when I get to this point… Hmm.