Cris Tales Review (Switch)

Cris Tales

There are two types of approaches to video games these days, the business model and the passion model. The business approach’s main focus is of course sales (Like modern day World of Warcraft), while the other approach involves the fulfillment of the developer’s dreams and desires and nothing else. Today’s game, Cris Tales is a game of the second type, one that is full of passion, beauty and love.

The developer draws their own inspiration from many games that laid the foundations of the world of classic JRPGS as we know it, such as Chrono Trigger, and other games influenced by them such as Bravely Default. The artistic style also reflects some anime heritage such as Samurai Jack, and on top of that, nearly everything in the game is influenced by the developer’s origins from Colombia, its culture, architecture, elegant story telling and luxurious themes and murals. Moreover, the acoustic soundtracks also have a touch from the studio’s birth place.

You can treat Cris Tales as a wonderful example of how culture can define people and pave the way for their creative expression. Meeting other people, seeing the world through the eyes of other people can be a source of delight and wonder, and it can provide emotionally and intellectually moving experiences, and this game is definitely one of those portals to another world that is easily able to bring people together.

Cris Tales is now available for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch (Tested) and PC. (Also playable for free to all Xbox Game Pass subscribers)

Cris Tales Review


In Cris Tales, you play as Crisbell, a young cute orphan living in the city of Narim and being taken care of by the caring mother of the orphanage there. The orphanage was her whole private world before she meets Matias, the talking frog at the cathedral with the non-ordinary stained glass window. The window attracts our heroine to approach it, and as soon as she touches it, she instantly gains the powers to see beyond the constraints of our present time.

From that point forward, the game screen will be split into three distinct parts in order to allow you to see three time phases at the same time, the past, the present and the future. After that she starts to learn how to control her powers, and go on a prophetic adventure in search of the five cathedrals of the kingdom of Cristallis in order to prepare for the ultimate fight against the great Empress of Time.

Cris Tales

The setting is undeniably standard and is simply a reflection of the many heroic adventures that were abundant at the time of the classics, however there are an equal number of factors that contribute to making this experience unique and modern such as the charming visual style. The characters of this tale move as 2D images in 3D environments with some elements of Art Nouveau, lots of vibrant lights and a wonderful contrast of colors between realms, masterfully serving the game’s purpose of a multi-generational vision.

Throughout the adventure, the little girl can transfer anything between the different times and modify the state of people and things, and she can also use her magic inside and outside combat to change the fate of the the kingdom and its inhabitants. The choices regarding NPCs and side quests do not affect the underlying narrative dramatically, but the effects of your actions and time manipulations are always visible at any moment in time. You can make museums prosper or fall, or prevent a city from sinking because a child you saved will become a plumber later on. All of your choices seem and feel reverberant thanks to the excellent artistic direction of Cris Tales.

Cris Tales

The writing itself is simple and tacky, but it’s nevertheless cute and resonant, and it succeeds like the original chrono trigger in keeping you interested all the time in what the plot has to offer, while having a smile on your face from how bright and magical everything looks and feels. The sublime OST complements this image perfectly, giving you a strong sense of being inside this magical fantasy, in which every choice you make is embedded in the narrative and the timeline of the story itself.

What I specifically like about Cris Tales is how the story primarily focuses on developing Crisbelle’s powers and discovering her own limits, instead of creating separate adventures that resulted from the misuse of her powers and nothing more. The tale exquisitely emerges to life through this entirely new focus on the distinctive traits of not just Crisbelle but every other character and their individual goals tied to each separate timeline, including fashion, economical and capitalistic goals.

Red field

Another distinguishing detail that really makes the game shine is that the aspects of the past, present and future are always present on the same screen, whether it is during the exploration of cities, battles, dealing with chests, etc. This point saved us a lot of trouble in backtracking between the different timelines to identify with the changes we made. Now every change happens in real time with unprecedented ease and smoothness.

Even during turn-based battles, it becomes more effective than just an artistic decision, as you can send an enemy back to the past where they might have had less resistance or experience, or clash with them in the future where with different tactics and defenses rather than the ones we are facing at the current moment. This fluidity of time manipulation is embodied in all of the heroine’s companions, where water attacks can rust metal shields, or sprout buds in the past to turn into toxic poisonous plants in the future.

Invoke the past

A team member can also move from side to side on the screen – or from one time to another – and use this ability to scan enemies’ abilities between the past and the future for weaknesses and strengths across all timelines. But of course the combat structure itself still goes by the textbook and relies on the need to press buttons at the right times to dodge or deflect enemy attacks. The real difference lies in options available and how it’s integrated into the game’s defining visual identity.

It should be taken into consideration because this is a review of the switch version of Cris Tales, there are notable loading times a player has to endure between every random encounter, ranging from 5-10 seconds at every turn, which can prolong your playtime considerably from the usual 20 hours to 25-30 hours, so you would be left with the option of trying this game on the new Nintendo Switch OLED, or opt for a modern console/pc version if you can’t handle the random encounter loading rate. The game also has an emphasis on grinding which can exacerbate this problem more than it actually is.

Finale

Finale
85 100 0 1
Cris Tales is a beautiful story told in a very unusual art style made with handrawn backgrounds and characters, and a considerable knowledge of the earlier trends in the JRPG worlds and how to reimplement them to fit modern standards. It is a classic story about heroism, self-acceptance, courage, revolution and hope, but it uses many unique mechanisms to portray these messeges in an unforgettable way.
Cris Tales is a beautiful story told in a very unusual art style made with handrawn backgrounds and characters, and a considerable knowledge of the earlier trends in the JRPG worlds and how to reimplement them to fit modern standards. It is a classic story about heroism, self-acceptance, courage, revolution and hope, but it uses many unique mechanisms to portray these messeges in an unforgettable way.
85/100
Total Score

The Good

  • Charming art style with a unique visual identity
  • The integration of time travelling concepts into all aspects of the adventure
  • Breathtaking orchestral music and amazing Art Nouveau elements

The Bad

  • Random Encounters throw off the progression rate
  • Longer loading times on Nintendo Switch consoles and old platforms
  • Not the most original or unique story
Total
2
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