Tales of Symphonia Chronicles Review – Worth Telling
It’s been over a decade since Tales of Symphonia was first released on the Gamecube and it is still the favourite JRPG of thousands of gamers worldwide, as many who have played it know. But the game industry has changed significantly in the last ten years, and gamer’s tastes have changed with it. Can Tales of Symphonia and its sequel Dawn of the New World still make an impact with just a HD remake?
In short; yes, mostly. What made Tales of Symphonia so fantastic and memorable is still right here, an enthralling yarn spun around interesting characters featuring themes of betrayal, conspiracy, racism and adventure. Dawn of the New World is a nice addition and the graphics are definitely better than the original Symphonia, but story and gameplay fall incredibly flat in comparison.
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles’ storyline is fantastic. Without spoiling anything, it involves a great adventure beyond the world your character, Lloyd Irving, has come to know and he sets for himself the impossible task of fixing a broken world. Whether or not his efforts were worthwhile is a question asked in Dawn of the New World where you play as Emil, a young lad with bi-polar disorder and a bone to pick with “Lloyd The Great”.
The story is enthralling from start to finish, but the very best element of the story is the characters themselves. Interactions between the characters and their backstories are one of the best reasons to play Symphonia, with side-quests and Skits (optional conversations between characters). Story isn’t quite as interesting in Dawn of the New World, although if you’re a big fan of Symphonia then this will inevitably be enough of a reason to play DotNW.
Where this game shines is in its combat. More than a decade has passed since its original launch in Japan and yet the gameplay still holds strong against many JRPGs. In fact, compared to even some of the most modern turn-based RPGs, Symphonia’s Real-Time battle system feels silky smooth and is fun to play. Combos are easily strung together and battling unlocks more techniques and skills to use in battle.
It starts out incredibly basic, only allowing you to use simple combos, but then later opens up into this very deep combat system where you will strive to get the highest combo chain possible. Extra players can join as one of your party members in battles to keep things interesting and the gameplay completely changes when using any of your different party members. Spellcasters will find themselves catered for, whilst those wishing to use a giant axe or twin swords will also find something to whet their appetite.
Traveling the World Map in Symphonia is similar to many RPGs, where the overworld is being traversed by a your giant character, later unlocking other means of transportation. Dawn of the New World is a different affair, with the overworld basically being a fancy menu where you merely select towns and dungeons to visit that you have unlocked, many of which are the same areas as the original Symphonia, perhaps with slight changes to layout.
Symphonia’s graphics are admittedly starting to look dated now, even with the new 720P resolution, but returning players will enjoy the minor enhancements, whereas new ones may find the older graphics slightly off-putting. Dawn of the New World looks noticeably better than Symphonia, but that’s thanks to being originally developed for a slightly more powerful console (Wii instead of the Gamecube). Some low-res textures are really quite awful, but overall the game looks nice and smooth.
The music in battles, dungeons, towns and the overworld all sounds fantastic and atmospheric. A key addition to Chronicles is the Japanese voice option. Symphonia’s English voice acting was always criticised, and with this addition those who couldn’t stand the English voice cast now have an alternative option. The biggest benefit to this are the Skits, which were not voiced at all in English. With the Japanese voices selected, Skits are fully voiced instead and move along at a much brisker pace, making them more enjoyable to read with the character’s voices giving a good idea of their emotion and tone.