PAX Online 2020 Highlight – Cris Tales

Posted on September 23, 2020

The Cris Tales demo that was playable during PAX Online recently is a love letter to classic JRPGs, that also features gameplay mechanics new to the genre. With a fantastic soundtrack and a beautiful 2.5D art style that looks like an interactive Pixar short, every inch of the demo was a sensory delight. It’s a surprisingly hefty demo too, with plenty of story and an optional colosseum mode. I fell in love with Cris Tales, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full game when it comes out later this year.

Cris Tales stars Crisbell, a young woman living at an orphanage, in a generally peaceful town. Very soon she meets Matias (an adorable frog in a top hat and bowtie) who tells her that she is a Time Mage, a being who is able to see and influence the past, present, and possible futures at the same time. This power is shown as a triangle covering the screen. Inside the triangle is the present, with the past to its left and the future to its right. It’s one of the most innovative depictions of time travel I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s also a great way to show off Cris Tales’ art, with each NPC and environment looking totally different depending on the era you’re looking at. With time-travelling quests and choices that meaningfully alter the future, it looks like your choices will make a difference in the final game.

Time powers are even impressive during the game’s turn-based battles. At a certain point you encounter a boss who hides behind a huge metal shield, rendering them immune to all damage. However, Crisbell instructs fellow party member Cristopher to cast a water spell at the shield, marking it as ‘wet’. Crisbell can then spend a turn to send the boss into the future – conveyed visually by pushing the boss to the right side of the triangle – where the shield becomes too rusted to use. Creatively flinging enemies across time adds a layer of strategy beyond the classic JRPG gameplay that Cris Tales is working with.

Cris Tales made a fantastic first impression at PAX 2020, and makes me very excited to try out the final game. Cris Tales will be released November 17 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, Steam, PC, and Google Stadia, so you’ve got a lot of console options to play it on. Have a look at the Cris Tales website for more details, and check out the demo on Steam.