E3 First Impressions: Cris Tales

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Cris Tales is a gorgeous indie title that I had the opportunity to view gameplay of during E3 last week, narrated by the game’s designer and studio CEO Carlos Rocha. Here are my thoughts.

Carlos said that the game is a love letter to JRPGs and is inspired directly by titles such as Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, Chrono Trigger, and Persona 5. Cris Tales includes a classic overworld to traverse between points of interest (towns, dungeons) on the map where players will engage in turn-based combat.

The most unique and exciting aspect of the game is the source of the main character Crisbell’s Time Mage power: the Crystals of Time. The crystals allow Crisbell to, at all times, view the past, present and future.

“Peer into the past, act in the present, and watch as your choices dynamically change the future — all on one screen as you play!”

Walking through town, she will pass a man that does not exist in the future, is a grown man in the present, and a small boy in the past framed by buildings, some in a state of disrepair or not built at all.

Crisbell is capable of viewing the world across time and influence it with the help of her crystals and a special frog named Matias (who can physically go through time, and reflects the changes of doings so becoming tadpole-ish in the past, and older in the future), and she will meet other time mages along the way.

Time can be manipulated in combat as well, which was showcased using the demo that us currently available on Steam. When you use your powers to send enemies backward or forward in time, they undergo changes base on time. Send a shield that recently defended against a water spell recently forward in time? It rusts and weakens the durability.

As Crisbell gains better understanding of her powers, she can even turn back time during battles. Along the top of the screen is a timeline of moves, allowing you to pinpoint exact moments in battle that you would like a chance to re-do.

Crisbell won’t be able to fix everyone’s problems though and will have to make difficult decisions. Save the home of the only apothecary, or the single mother? These choices will affect your access to certain areas or dungeons in the world.

“Climb aboard an airship or boat and traverse this beautifully hand-drawn 2D fairytale world. From the shining kingdom of Crystallis to the slums of Saint Clarity, discover each unique location and shape its future.

The Empress’ plot to destroy the world is complex and layered. Use your wits and recruit powerful allies throughout the world to uncover and undo her multi-faceted web and make your way to the True Ending of this enchanting tale.”

The game is animated frame-by-frame and fully voiced over, really connecting you with the immersive world and the cast of characters.

Carlos said that the game and characters are heavily influenced by Columbia where he and the development team hail from and I cannot overstate how beautiful this game is. Matias, for example, is modeled after the adorable-but-lethal golden poison frog.

The game is expected to launch in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. You can play the debut demo available on Steam today.