The PlayStation Vita library has been home to many different JRPG titles, some of which have been remakes and re-releases. But very few other titles on the platform really capture the best aspects of a definitive JRPG experience that fans of the genre love.
Tales of Hearts R accomplishes this by providing a deep story about the fate of the world with a colorful cast of characters and some addictively fun RPG action. The game itself is a remake from a release on the Nintendo DS in Japan, but now with new extra content and better presentation than the original release. Namco captures the very best parts of the Tales series and successfully brings it to the PlayStation Vita.
The story follows a boy named Kor, an apprentice Soma user in-training who comes across a mysterious young girl and her hot headed brother. The story takes a few twists and turns and has Kor and his colleagues on a quest that will take them to faraway places where he grows stronger with his Soma abilities and discovers new powers.
It’s very hard to tell much more about the story without giving away some key points that will spoil it all, but it can be said that the story sucks you in early on and keeps you wanting to play more. Many of the characters you come across do fall into some of the tropes found in JRPG titles, but they each display distinct personalities which make for some fun dialogue sections.
Dialogue is an interesting aspect of Tales of Hearts R, particularly while running around and exploring the world. Much like other Tales games, you can hit the select button and witness some banter between characters that either give explanation of story events, offer insight about the world, or just some funny moments the characters have while on their journey. This keeps everything interesting throughout the time you play through the game, as there never is a dull moment in or out of important key events. You feel as if the main story points and tasks you are accomplishing are attributed to the larger plot and not dragged down or useless.
Gameplay here is very similar to other games in the series with the leveling and real-time battle system all present and accounted for. This game however allows for more options while fighting enemies in battles through the use of the series’ Artes and the new Arc Chase battle system.
When fighting enemies, players have the ability to combo them into a staggered state and then continue attacking after landing knockback attacks. This can be taken even further by using Chase Cross attacks, where players can execute a tag-team styled attack with a character in their party. This makes for some very cool looking attacks that deal awesome amounts of damage and give great stat bonuses. There is also the ability to map party actions and Union Artes, attacks that are done between two specific characters.
Leveling up is done through the Soma system with the use of Soma Build Points (SBP) for each character. This is equivalent to building up the power of a character’s signature weapon with SBP and unlocking different abilities, Artes, and stat boosts.
An interesting part of the game is the ability to equip different titles to a character based off the actions they take in and out of battle. These titles can affect different stats that are more potent with better titles later on in the game. Outside of standard items you can use in battle, there is also the return of the ability to cook different healing items, something that was also present in other titles in the Tales series.
The world you explore is vast and filled with different towns, caverns, and hidden areas. When inside a town, there are plenty of NPCs and vendors to interact with. When outside on the world map, things tend to look a little bit dull though, but the sheer size of the world more than makes up for that. Your map is marked with different points such as towns or areas to be explored, so it isn’t hard to navigate through the large world map.
The Vita may have many JRPG titles within its library that could wear you out of the genre, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on playing Tales of Hearts R. There is plenty of great game here to keep Vita owners busy for a good long time. The story is enthralling enough to keep you interested and the gameplay is addictive and fun. If you’ve never played a Tales game then this is a great place to start and see some of the series’ best characteristics. Vita owners definitely will want to add Tales of Hearts R to their collection.
This review is based off a digital copy of Tales of Hearts R for the PlayStation Vita which was provided by Bandai-Namco.