JRPG is a genre that has been around since the early 80s, with series like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy that introduced games to Role-playing games from the NES era. The PlayStation 1 is known to be where many JRPGs took place. However, despite all the praise these games get, I have never got into JRPGs unless you include Pokemon games which are an easy way to get what JRPGs feel like. The reason that kept me away from RPGs in general is my interest in Side-scrollers, platformers, and Action adventure games, I simply had something else I enjoyed with and felt familiar playing.
Many years later, and specifically last year was the turning point for me as a gamer, it was the year that made me interested in playing more games, exploring other genres and opening my mind to try more of what the industry has to offer. One of these genres that I had a strong attraction to was JRPGs.
Tales of Zestiria was released on August 2015 and is the latest entry in the Tales series (Tales of Berseria to be released in 2016), which first begun in 1995 with a span of sixteen games in the main series and a number of spin-offs. I chose to have Tales of Zestiria as my first entry to the series and to the genre as a whole and the reason for that was the art! Alongside of how well-established the series is.
So now let us start with how it feels to play a JRPG for the first time in 2016.
First of all, I will talk about the story aspect of the game. JRPGs as far as I know are heavily focused on story-telling, whether it be directly or through side activities.
The main story: You will get to start with that as soon as you play the game by the mean of cutscenes and continued through main quests. Only doing the main quests and running through the game will give you the full detail of the story. Reading your journal will give you a synopsis of the story as far as you have reached in the main game which is a great thing if you have left the game for few days and wanted something to remind you of your state in the game. Overall, this will start with starting the game and will end with it as well.
However, there is many side stories, side characters and world knowledge will expand your experience by knowing the world you’re playing in and interacting with NPCs all around the game world, and discovery points which tells you more about the place you are in and the world as a whole. As a role playing game, this is as important as the main story if you really want to get immersed.
Since we talked about main and side quests, let us talk more about that now for our second point. Through-out the years, Action Adventure games started to adapt from RPGs in many ways, either by leveling up your character or side-questing and keeping yourself busy with other things. However, by comparing side-quests in Far Cry 4 and Tales of Zestiria I have noticed that they offer different things to the player. In Far Cry 4 side-quests contain gameplay elements more than story elements to the player, you’ll be experiencing a different type of gameplay element than the main game. While in Tales of Zestiria, you would still experience something different but it is more focused on character interaction and giving you more of the side story as mentioned earlier. It is not necessary to be always the case between these two different types of genres but it is something I have noticed.
The combat is next on my list of things to talk about. While being familiar with how Action Adventure games play, the combat in JRPGs is something totally new to me, I’m used on turn-based style combat but not what Tales of Zestiria has. With two types of attacks, Martial Artes (which are physical attacks) and Mystic Artes (Which are magic and spells) each is allocated to one of the face buttons O for Martial and X for Mystic, and you do different type of attacks within the two types by choosing a different direction on the left analog stick. It sounds complicated for someone who never played a JRPG before and it definitely was foreign to me when I started playing, but the game did a great job of introducing me to the different types and explaining how battles work, even though it took a while for me to understand how it all goes, the game was still teaching me as a new player how to get into this style and get more experienced with it by the end of the game which is something I was happy with.
From what I know, that there are different type of combat and battle systems between the different types of JRPGs, but if each of those games introduced the system as the Tales series did for me, I’m sure it will be easy to get into JRPGs if you’re interested to do that.
My final point will be about levelling up, item collecting and the many extras the game has to offer. As for levelling up it is by encountering enemies and defeating them as it would be. But it is not the only way, since there are herbs that boost your stats permanently, but it is what you would expect from a game.
Items such as weapons and armor differ for each character, there are different types of weapons and even within the same type of weapon, each has different abilities and stats. For example for Sorey the main character uses a Sword as his weapon, there are different types of Swords (Fluoric Sword, Amber Sword) that each offer different boosts for our Attack, Magic. But even within the same type (Amber Sword) there are different stats on each sword, one might have Paralyzes capability while the other might have stat boost against undead enemies. And one of the features of the game is the ability of fusing these items together to fuse the abilities that they offer to make your own specialized sword, that is a system in the game that I didn’t get into but I understand how it will change the way you play the game.
That is simply my entry point to JRPGs, I would have more to say about it and explain, but I wanted to keep it short to read. The game made me want more JRPGs every once in a while, wince I spent 60+ hours with it till I finished it, they take a lot of time to play but I feel like I got introduced well to the genre and would like to keep playing its games.
As a fellow gamer, I suggest everyone to go out of their way and try more genres as it would make your experiences vary between the games you play, and will make you have more to play in the long run. I hope you like the article, please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and let me know if I missed anything or even if you have questions to ask me.