Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: 7seventh Chord
Release Date: 11/11/2014
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If you have been following this site for a while you will know by now that I don’t have much patience for JRPGs. They are usually extremely long, random battles get tedious to the point of me wanting to quit the game completely, and sometimes the stories and battle systems can be boring or convoluted or both. Tales of Hearts R just so happened to be one of the few JRPGs available on Vita so I thought I would give it a try. I was in for a strange surprise.
The story itself is actually pretty decent and actually makes sense despite how involved it is. You play as a young hero named Kor Metor who is traveling the world to help save a girl named Kohaku along with her brother. There are links within people called Spirias. This is kind of like their soul. Somatics has weapons that are formed from this Spiria and Kor discovers he is one after watching his grandfather die at the hands of a woman named Incarose. There is a “Spiria disease” called xeroms that can cause dispir within people meaning part of their Spiria Core is missing or corrupted. Kor and his friends “link” with people to fight off this corruption. Kor does this to Kohaku and shatters her core sending the shards into eight pieces across the globe. However, what threw me for a loop was that this whole adventure was only the first half of the game. The second half involves another huge plot with an entire ancient planet that can suck out these Spirias. Of course, your new goal is to stop this new evil madman.
Holy crap…I can’t believe I remember all that! With that said the story consists of endless cut scenes…I mean endless. There are probably hundreds of cutscenes in this game but 90% of it is spoken Japanese dialog which is nice. There are a few anime cutscenes that are beautiful but I wish there were more. I know most people like cut scenes but I honestly felt it held up the game too much but that’s just personal preference. Aside from the story, the combat is actually pretty intense and deep. You can control four different party members in real-time in an arena. The attack buttons are completely customizable allowing you to assign new skills and “Artes” to Circle and X. While you hacking away at enemies a meter will charge that allows you to go into a “hyperdrive” mode to deal more damage and take less. All while this is going on you can also assign other members’ skills to the touch screen by flicking their icon which I thought was a nice touch. I had one party member heal at my beck and call exactly how I wanted him to instead of relying on his AI which would usually wait until everyone’s HP was in the red.
Secondly, you level up in this game very oddly and it took me a while to figure it out. You don’t buy weapons in shops, only armor. Weapons are acquired by leveling up your members through their Somas. There’s some sort of complicated line chart in the form of a star, but thankfully the auto-level button just lets you choose what type of fighting style you want for that character and it will assign the points accordingly. Along with this there are also cooking items that give you boosts during battles, but I never really got into this much. It did come in handy at times, but thankfully you level up fairly quickly while only hitting a difficulty spike on the last two bosses of the game. This required me to level grind for over a day just to raise my members up to about 12 levels to get an edge over the bosses.
Lastly, there’s a lot of side content in this game and a New Game+ which is usually unheard of in JRPGs as they are linear and follow a set pattern and path. There are other difficulty levels that also raise the level cap (200) as well as a few side quests for people interested in some more side story (I usually hate side quests in JRPGs). With all that said it’s optional.
After the credits rolled and I logged 30 hours into this game I felt satisfied. The ending had closure, the final boss was rewarding to fight, and I felt myself feeling relieved that the game was just the right amount of challenge throughout and did not require constant bouts of level grinding. Graphically the game is average. Not very ugly but also doesn’t push the Vita to its limits. The music is monotonous and typical of a JRPG, but at least the voice acting is great. If you own a Vita this is probably the best JRPG you can plan outside of all those PS1 classics.