It was last year at E3 2019 (remember when we had those?) that developers Dreams Unincorporated and SYCK showed off Cris Tales to the masses. Showing off a beautiful world, interesting story, and engaging combat, a demo was also released online. Players everywhere were also invited to try out the beginning of the game themselves. Last week I had a chance to see more of Cris Tales, showing off some new elements and continuing the story.
Picking up right where the E3 2019 demo left off, the game opened on Chrisbelle traveling with new companions, Christopher and Willhelm. Over the course of this demo, we got to see the different types of places that you will navigate; Cities, Dungeons, and the Overworld.
The city shown was Christopher's home town of St Clarity. It's a city divided between the slums of the Floodlight DIstrict and the affluent Walled Garden. When in a city the players view gets split into three portions; the present, past, and future. The past allows the player to be able to take one look at the screen and understand much more about the history of a location. There's no need to feed the player exposition about characters or places if you can see what they were like. The future allows the player to see what kind of misfortune will fall upon an area. By seeing this future players can work towards improving any bleak outcome.
Altering the future doesn't need to be a grand change. In fact, players can even affect the lives of single citizens. Looking at the Past and Present, you might see a musician playing happily. At some point, he becomes a shady thief you see in the Future. Somewhere between now and where we see, the musician's future took a turn for the worse. By donating to him in the present, you're able to change the future for the better, seeing the thief return to his musician roots.
After the presentation, it was explained that depending on how much the player helps the better state the world will be in by the end of the game. Avoiding someone in need can gate yourself out of content later on. That NPC can't show up to help you later if they've gotten eaten by wolves. It will be interesting to see how different two playthroughs can become.
Dungeons are where the player will do most of their battling and exploring. Combat in Cris Tales is all random encounters to be sure to be ready. Some Dungeon settings shown off include a forest, sewer system, and a mountain. Each of these areas had their own set of secrets for the player to find and side quests to complete. It was also pointed out that some dungeons you'll need to return to once you've learned new abilities. This is pretty standard fare for an RPG adventure but with such beautiful environments even if you get stuck for a while at least there's something good to look at.
In combat, Cris Tales' unique time travel mechanics really shine. Each combat encounter places the active party in the middle of the screen with enemies able to appear to Cris' left or right. If an enemy is to the right then Cris can use her time ability to send them into the future or past. This was shown off in the initial demo, as well as the ability to stack status effects and time. You can wet a metal-clad enemy and send them to the future so rust will lower their defenses.
A new use for these synergies is that status effects that damage over time will happen all at once if you send the enemy forward in time. Instead of using poison or burning for slow incremental damage, it can be a big hitter. For example, if a poisoned enemy was to take 5 damage per turn for 5 turns you can have all 25 points of damage hit at once. While these combos all stem to happen by sending an enemy into the future there has yet to be much talk on a combo taking effect when sending an enemy into the past. For any of these to affect enemies to your left you need to already have sent them to the past and then set up your combo.
Sending your enemies through time will affect them even if you don't have any extra attack setup. From those seen so far such as wolves, slimes, and fungi each has a different past, present, and future form. A wolf might be a formidable foe, sending it forward in time might only make it bigger and scarier. Revert it back to a puppy you might find that you're able to handle it easier. You can learn each of the characteristics of the stages on your own or use a character ability like scan to get definitive results.
In speaking with Derek Neal, Executive VP of Production at Modus Games, it was explained that while at this point in time we've only seen three of the playable characters, the full release will have seven for you to swap between. Even with such a large party, only three will be active at a time. Whether non-active party members will earn experience on the sidelines is still up for debate amongst the development team.
One aspect of Cris Tales that was revealed to me during the demonstration is the sewing of Colombian history and culture into Cris Tales. The golden archway of the Walled City is recognizable to Colombians even if they've been placed in a new world. It's not just positive aspects of Colombia that are included in Cris Tales either. The idea behind the slums being constantly flooded with sewer water is a reference to flooding issues in Colombia. Flora and Fauna seen through the world of Cris Tales are also taken from Colombia.
Developers use what they call 'Endemic Fantasy' to take the magic of their own country and put them inside the game. They don't just want their players to get engrossed in the world of Cris Tales but also share a part of their Colombian culture.
A lot of what was shown to me in this session were things that were already known from playing the initial E3 demo. Movement and exploration, battling system, how Cris' time powers will be used to solve issues. The big question on my mind after seeing the initial premise was is it something that can be developed upon and used in interesting ways. The additional ways to use time travel as not only a combat mechanic, pairing it with other abilities, but also in how it will shape the narrative and the world have reassured me that Dreams Uncorporated really have something with this game.
The full version of Cris Tales will be releasing on November 17th for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. If you'd like to check out more about the game you can head to their Official Website or download the demo on Steam.