Summer Game Fest – Preview: Cris Tales

All week long we’ll be highlighting games available as part of the Summer Game Fest Xbox Demo Event. These demos are available for the public to play from July 21st through the 27th

By John Wahl

This November, publisher Modus Games (Trine, Remothered) is introducing players to a unique twist on the RPG genre with their new game, Cris Tales. Taking inspiration from JRPG classics such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6, they’re hoping to capture the magic of those old school games, while also bringing something new and fresh to the formula.

In Cris Tales you’ll play as Crisbell, a “Time Mage” with the ability to manipulate time and see into the past, as well as into the future. Using these powers she must travel the kingdom of Crystallis (I see a theme developing) and stop the evil Empress from destroying the world. The time travel element isn’t just for storytelling purposes though, as it’s interwoven with the gameplay as well in some smart and creative ways.

During my hands on time with the new demo I got a chance to check out both the combat of the game, as well as explore a bit of the world and see how the time travel mechanic works. While exploring, your screen is always divided into three sections. To your left is a vision of the past. to your right is the future, and in the middle where you stand is the present time. As you move throughout the world you can see how both objects and characters change over time. Shiny new buildings on your left will look crumbled and abandoned when you pass by them on your right. Characters you meet will also go from young children, to adults, to elderly as you go. It’s a cool visual trick that had been paying much closer attention to my surroundings.

This three way time split will factor into puzzles that you’ll need to solve as well. Say for instance you need to find a certain piece of fruit for a quest, you could receive a seed in the present and go back into the past to plant it, then return to the present time to find a fully grown tree bearing the fruit that you need.

The time travel mechanic will also factor into the combat system, which comes in the form of a more traditional turn based system but with a timing based element which gives bonus damage to your attacks. For instance, you could try and send your enemy through time to become a younger, weaker version of himself, but there’s also a risk that this time displaced version of your enemy could be more powerful than before. It’s a system with a lot of potential for fun and interesting battles.

One of the things that initially attracted me to Cris Tales is it’s incredible sense of style and it’s slick presentation. It features a bright and colorful hand drawn art style that is unique and interesting. It’s a little difficult to describe but I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that looks quite like it. It was also impressive that they seem to have recorded voice work for the entire game, an impressive feat for any indie game, much less a lengthy RPG.

My short time with the game left me with a good impression. With an expansive world to discover, new characters to recruit to your team, a creative and interesting time travel mechanic, a great sense of style, and over 20 hours of gameplay, Cris Tales looks to offer RPG fans a fun twist on the genre and I’m excited to check it out when it releases this November on all major platforms.

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