Tales of Hearts R Review
- A fully remade 3D game complete with an overworld, detailed 3D models and animated cut scenes
- Revised leveling, affection and equipment system
- Fully voiced cast
- LOTS of optional content
- Plenty of customization and abilities, equipment, skits, etc to unlock
- Some scenes and characters could be even more fleshed out
- Some characters could use a tad more development
- There are some oddly random difficulty spikes, especially with Post Game content
Tales of Hearts R is another installment to the Tales series from Namco Bandai. Originally released on the DS in a much more 2D form, Tales of Hearts R is a complete remake exclusive to the Playstation Vita. And what a remake! The original DS game’s battle system was a side scrolling action styled one similar to the old PSX releases/SNES game (Tales of Destiny, Eternia, Phantasia, etc) but it has been completely reimagined as one on par with recent console releases (Tales of Graces F, Xillia, Vesperia, etc) with some interesting features unique to this game. The chase system allows you to continue combos into the air and around the map and the break system allows you to halt an attack and follow into a chase combo. After completing the game, I have to say this is one of my favorite unique Tales battle systems. It really makes battles engaging and keeps what would be droll random encounters fun and satisfying. The original DS release also didn’t have a traditional over-world and was based on points on a map. Well this one does have an over-world, a very well fleshed out one at that, with plenty of secrets and optional content. Before I continue talking about the changes, lets discuss the story itself.
The story follows a young man named Kor Meteor. Grandson of Sydan Meteor and son of Kardia Meteor, both of whom world renowned warriors and heroes/heroines in their own right. After the intro sequence you meet with Kohaku Hearts and later her brother Hisui who are being pursued by the ‘witch’ Incarose and through a series of unfortunate events, Kohaku has her Spiria shattered which is scattered throughout the world. Kor Meteor, feeling responsible for the incident, devotes himself to collecting the shards and reviving Kohaku‘s nexus. A ‘spiria’ is essentially a spiritual center in which the facets of a person’s emotions and personality reside, whether they be be positive (Trust, Love, Hope, etc) or negative (Fear, Anger, Sorrow, etc) and is also the games leveling system. Those with particularly strong spiria are able to wield ‘Soma’ which is a spiritual weapon that takes and changes form based on the user’s spiritual center and are known as ‘Somatics’. As you progress through the story and recover facets of Kohaku‘s spirit, the underlying plot unveils and what was a quest to recover an innocent maiden’s spirit, becomes a quest to save the world from utter annihilation. So basically a similar plot to most Tales games in a well written and executed form with a good life lesson embedded within.
Tales of Hearts R adds a lot that wasn’t in the original. In fact, the ‘R’ literally stands for Re-imagining. Along with a total visual upgrade with well made 3D models, towns, dungeons, world map, etc, it also adds various cut scenes, new playable characters which were originally NPCs to help flesh out the story (which in my opinion was very well executed), new music, skits, side quests and post game content. Also added are new cameos, fully voiced characters and story, revised equipment and leveling system, new artes, costumes, titles…you get the idea. They really push the fact it’s a remake to the extreme. With revisions and additions, however, came some cut content. Latwick Forest, Emotion and Combination gauges, most of the original puzzles, some spiria mazes, and even some story scenes didn’t make the cut but honestly, it was for the greater good if you ask me.
The music is, as usual, very well composed, endlessly atmospheric, and never gets tiresome. It is always appropriate for the situation and compliments the environments you traverse quite well. Speaking of the environments, the various areas and dungeons are well mapped and not overdone. I never found myself bored of areas so things aren’t overdone or underdone. They’re just right which is always the mark of a great RPG.
Between all the new content, the story itself, post game content, the usual tropes (Cooking, Affection System, Mini-games, etc) AND the trademark Tales NG+ complete with grade shop, Tales of Hearts R is a solid installment to the series that will keep you playing for a long time. The replayability and the deep customization on the way of spiria levels, costumes, attachments, etc makes it worth the price of a console RPG. Luckily for us, Namco don’t bleed us dry and its appropriately priced with combo versions and plenty of DLC available. I am happy to give this game my maximum rating. 4.5/5 This is a must have Vita game for all RPG and Tales fans and one of the games that makes it worth owning a PS Vita. The message of this particular iteration is simple: The human spirit has limitless potential and friendship is AWESOME!