Because that title isn’t controversial at all! Hi everyone, I’m finally able to join in on TAY Theme Week for once, so that’s exciting! After having recently finished up playing Tales of the Abyss and writing a summary of my thoughts on the game, I was immediately inspired to choose Tales of Graces f as the worst game I’ve played this year, because my goodness, this game is a big ol’ pile of poop emojis.

Where do I even begin? I’m just going to rapid-fire this, because it’s not like the game’s plot bothered to step back and take two seconds to reconsider itself either!

  • The characters are genuinely boring, one-dimensional, forgettable, exhausting, and unlikable. The only exception I have is Pascal, and that’s only if you enjoy her brand of humor and campy one-liners. Even then, she’s a giant Mary Sue. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

    Hubert is a shitty knock-off of Jade from Tales of the Abyss that doesn’t work. There, I said what everyone else was already thinking. No punches pulled in this post. They even tried to mimic his clothing to a degree. He comes across as the angsty younger child who was never given any love, but the major flaw to this kind of character design is that he’s just a total asshole the minute he is reintroduced... and then he stays a total asshole for the remainder of the game. Not even an endearing “cheaky ba$^@rd” character, he’s just a genuine dick. There’s no lasting moment of redemption or growth, just minor conversations here and there where he’s still being a snide brat.

    Lastly, I do not care about Richard. Game, stop trying to make me care about Richard. I do not care about Richard as a person, let alone as a friend.

  • If you thought the characters were bland, let me tell you about the plot! “Friendship is more important than anything in the world. Also, you should probably conform to the role that society has in mind for you, unless you’re a wizard. Lastly, demonic possession excuses all war crimes. Remember kids, friendship excuses attempts to commit genocide!” That’s pretty much it. The pacing is inexcusably awful, with hour long segments of nothing noteworthy occurring. It is flat out boring to experience. Then all of the sudden you’re :spoiler: blasting off into space in a rocket ship for some reason?! :spoiler: It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    I can remember countless times where I was sitting there, reading through some text wondering to myself: “when does the actual story begin? Where are the twists and turns that make following through on this worthwhile? What sort of growths and changes can I expect these characters to undergo?” Unfortunately, I wound up being rather disappointed, because there really aren’t any. Fault Abyss or Symphonia for perhaps overusing foreshadowing as a plot device, but they at least had solid defining moments and some very dynamic characters. Graces is just flat out... well, flat.

    Unlike many other JRPGs, you don’t come away from it feeling like you’ve learned something, or gained a new-found perspective or insight on a topic. I just shrugged and wondered how this writing was deemed acceptable.

  • I think another major thing that’s worth mentioning is the complete and total lack of humor in the game. Graces is a very somber, melodramatic title with very little in the ways of comedic relief besides Pascal. The more I think about other Tales entries, the more I realize that is a keystone design aspect that is sorely lacking in this game.

  • There is no world to explore. Rehashes and backtracking throughout a few key areas are the norm, not the exception. No additional detail needed, you walk around the same 30 or so screens, a lot, with a few variances in weather patterns for different major cities.

  • The game makes no attempt at being subtle about it being pay-to-win. Yes, you read that correctly, a single-player JRPG is balanced around the idea that you should pay extra money for increased EXP, items, and available gold to spend. It’s not something I was able to forgive, so I just threw out any pretense of pretending to care about an honest difficulty curve and put the game on the easiest setting.

    If the game’s creators can’t be bothered to make the game balanced to experience on Normal, or more difficult levels, without just making it a massive stat-wall requiring a huge EXP and Gold grind, then I’m not going to bother. No one else cares about my PS3 Trophies, and I’m not a single college sophmore anymore.

I think what pisses me off the most about Tales of Graces f is that it has one incredibly wonderful thing going for it. Like other entries into the series, combat is fluid, responsive, and extremely fun to partake in (putting the uneven difficulty curve aside). There’s a nice mix between offense and defense throughout battles. Dodging and guarding against enemy attacks feels snappy and rewarding. Each character has individual combat mechanics specific to them, which allows the player to experience battles in new ways. You get rewarded for having good chains of combos and utilizing a wide range of move-sets. There is very little fault I can find with the system, I just wish it wasn’t the only positive thing I had to say about an entry into a series that I’m otherwise quite fond of.

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