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Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.



Watch the opening here.


Primer:
Released in 2005, Tales of the Abyss is the eighth main entry into Namco-Bandai's “Tales Of” series. While it appears to be your standard JRPG on the surface, the Tales games famously shake things up by foregoing the boring turn-based combat that the genre is so well known for. Instead, it opts for a sort of pseudo 3D real time battle system that relies heavily on combos, blocking, and dodging. It also features multiplayer, but we won't be seeing that because none of my friends have the time to play this monolith of a game alongside me. The developers also like to tout that their games do away with and avoid many of the so called “JRPG cliches”, but that's such a laughable claim I can't even pretend to take it seriously for the sake of proving it wrong later in the thread. There is some of it, but for the most part the game is still swimming in anime.

Despite a lackluster release in the West due to Namco's complete lack of marketing, Tales of the Abyss did quite well back in Japan. Its protagonist Luke would go on to become a mainstay in the Top 10 of the Tales Series popularity polls, and it even got its own anime series that, in stark contrast to Symphonia and Phantasia's adaptions, followed the source material remarkably well and is actually quite watchable. I wouldn't recommend watching it until you've played the game though, since it still has to condense the plot and a few key elements slip through the net.

Anyway, what about the game proper?

The Good
Tales of the Abyss has a great battle system. No really, I mean an amazing battle system. I know I'll catch some flack from Vesperia and Graces fans, but I'd still argue that Abyss has the funnest battle system to date out of any Tales game. Tales of the Abyss was the first game to implement what would become known as the “Free Run” mechanic, which allows you to move on a three dimensional plane. Essentially, turning the game from pseudo 3D to actual 3D. It also throws in a lot of new mechanics, such as unique skills, upgrading specific attacks to gain new effects, using other party member's spells to power up your own spells, and so on. If this LP had a face cam (god forbid) you'd see me smiling during every battle.

The Not So Good
The Story is... well, yeah. It's a JRPG, and no JRPG is complete without annoying characters and stupid plot twists at every turn. Granted it definitely is nowhere near the worst the series has ever churned out (lookin' at you, Symphonia 2), in fact I'd argue it's among the best the series has to offer. However, the game has a bad habit of throwing lots of technobabble around when it really isn't needed, and loves doing that JRPG thing where a character in your party knows some vital information that would have really come in handy, but said nothing for no reason. Still, the story has its moments of subtlety, and it touches on interesting ideas of human psychology. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's bad, especially with considering the lengths that went in to fleshing out the setting. You should really approach this one less as a fantasy game that just goes with "it's magic, I don't have to explain anything", and more as a Sci-Fi game that feels the need to justify itself at every turn.

The Bad
I'm not gonna pull punches: the game is ugly. Though definitely still very anime, Abyss is the most “realistic” looking of the games in the series, and it isn't pulled off well. The world map in particular looks terrible: like something out of an N64 game. It also just looks... I don't know, blurry? Out of focus? And this is a constant, even when just playing the game on a PS2. It's not too noticeable, but it can be distracting. Also like most games of the era, it desperately wants some Anti-Aliasing.

It's also rather poorly coded. This is definitely the glitchiest of the Tales games, and it can also have a tendency to chug at times, too. Except for the battles, ironically what is probably the most intensive event in the game, which preform flawlessly and never lag. Okay then.


Despite all of these flaws, I am definitely something of a Tales of the Abyss apologist. Its flaws get nitpicked, and its strengths tend to be overshadowed by its big brother Symphonia and little brother Vesperia. I'll probably come off as harsh at times, but there is a lot to love about Abyss, and I hope I'm able to get some of it across.

You know they re-released this for the 3DS, right?
I do. According to my sources (Thanks Artix) the 3DS version cuts down on the obscene loading times, eliminates the slowdown on the world map, and smooths the entire game to a standard 30FPS (in the PS2 version, battles and a lot of cutscenes take place at a higher FPS) However the equipment needed to record from a 3DS is ridiculous in price, and I'm more familiar with this version anyway.

How is this Going to Work?
Updates will be in that screen shot form you love so much. Interesting things like animated cutscenes, boss battles, or a few particular scenes where the animation/music are important will be in video form.

: “This is dialogue that's being spoken out loud!”

: This is dialogue that's being thought, rather than spoken.

This is me, without quotes or picture, trying to be witty.

This is an explanation of an item or game mechanic.

Spoilers
Just don't, please. Don't talk about poo poo we haven't seen yet, even in spoiler tags. If this was any other game, I'd like to have had rather relaxed spoiler rules. But this is a game who's narrative heavily relies on keeping key information from the player until just the right moment, and spoiling it for people will cause it to collapse. My exception is that you're free to talk about game mechanics so long as you don't start name-dropping.

Updates

Part I
Update 1: It Started With A Song
Update 2: Tataroo Valley
Mechanics Update
Update 3: The Village of Engeve
Update 4: The Cheagle Woods (Part I) Part II
Update 5: The Tartarus (Part I)
Update 6: The Tartarus (Part II)
Update 7: St. Binah + Sidequests
Update 8: Crossing the Border (Synopsis)
Update 9: Choral Castle
Update 10: Chesedonia
Update 11: Baticul
Update 12: An Ambassador of Peace (Synopsis)
Update 13: Deo Range
Update 14: Akzeriuth
Update 15: A Mile in Another's Shoes Part I
Update 16: A Mile in Another's Shoes Part II

Part II
Update 17: Back to the Surface
Update 18: Church Storming
Update 19: The Silver World
Update 20: The Floating Capital
Update 21: Falling World
Update 22: The Passage Rings
Update 23: The War of Rugnica Plains
Update 24: Descent
Update 25: Sidequest Hell
Update 26: The Score Revisited
Update 27: False Princess Bonus: Things You Missed the First Time Part 1
Update 28: Inista Marsh
Update 29: Confrontation
Update 30: Fall of the House of Gardios
Update 31: Return to Tataroo Valley
Update 32: Princess Natalia
Update 33: Coliseum Time
Update 34: Peace Conference Bonus: Things You Missed The First Time Part 2
Update 35: The Return of Sidequest Hell
Update 36: Disaster at Sheridan
Update 37: The Heart of the World Bonus: Things You Missed The First Time Part 3
Update 38: Meggiora Sephiroth
Update 39: Zaleho Sephiroth
Update 40: Mt. Roneal Sephiroth
Update 41: Towards a New Future Part I
Update 42: Towards a New Future Part II

Part III
Update 43: Replica Blues (Part II)
Update 44: Signs of Conflict
Update 45: Sidequest Hell III: The Revenge (Part 1)
Update 46: Sidequest Hell III: The Revenge (Part 2)
Bonus Update: Asch & Map Glitches
Update 47: Farewell for a Friend
Update 48: Farewell Wrap up & More Sidequests
Update 49: Forbidden Power
Update 50: A Rising Threat
Update 51: Challenges from the New Order
Update 52: No Place for Replicas
Update 53: The Tower of Light
Update 54: The Only Alternative Bonus: Things You Missed the First Time Part 4
Update 55: A Reason to Die
Update 56: Unfortunate Parentage + Sidequest Roundup
Update 57: To Fight Family
Update 58: The Planet's Memory
Update 59: The Hidden Circus (Bonus)
Update 60: Towards the Glorious Land
Update 61: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part One
Update 62: The Meaning of Birth
Update 63: Last of the God-Generals
Update 64: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part Two
Update 65: Final Sidequest Interlude: Part Three
Update 66: Out With a Bang
Bonus Update: Alternate Dialogues
Epilogue: It Ended with a Song

Bonus Stuff
The Party
The Music of Tales of the Abyss Spoilers!
Luke's Character Spoilers!

Sydin fucked around with this message at Mar 27, 2014 around 18:10

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Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

Reserved for stuff.

Sydin fucked around with this message at Oct 4, 2013 around 07:02

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

Current Party Members

Luke fon Fabre


Son of Duke Fabre and Lady Susanne, as well as heir to the Kimlascan throne through engagement to the Princess. Our protagonist, now with a new haircut and a new lease on life. New Luke can be self-deprecating, unsure of himself and fearful of rejection. Still, he has said he will change, and only time will tell if he can live up to his promise. He's started by saying "Thank you."

Combat-wise Luke is more or less a pure melee fighter: he hits things with his sword. Luke's swings are slow but powerful, and Luke himself has good defenses and can take a fair bit of punishment before going down. His swings are wild and multi-directional, which means any enemies that stand close to Luke will probably get hit, regardless of their position to him. Luke's strength lies in his ability to wade into the thick of combat and swing like a madman, dealing damage left and right, and stay there until the battle is over. He's no combo-king like Yuri, but he's definitely a step up from playing as Lloyd.

Tear Grants


Lorcrian Sergent Tear Grants, First Division Oracle Knights Intelligence Division. First introduced when she tried to kill her brother, Van. Why did she do it? We'll find out later. Much, much later. Tear is for the moment the logical cornerstone of the group, keeping Luke in check and generally covering for his lovely behavior. She's also a Seventh Fonist, which for the time being you can simply translate as "healer."

In terms of gameplay, Tear is the closest we come to getting a staff chick. Tear has good heals that focus on healing a large amount of people for less amounts of health. Beyond her healing, Tear has a surprisingly decent selection of melee artes, ranging from throwing knives to dropping hammers on people. In actual close up combat she will melt, however. Tear also brings to the table her ability to sing Hymns, which is something nobody else can do. Her starting Hymn "Nightmare" damages and debuffs a single enemy unit, but she gets much better hymns over time. In general Tear is really supposed to be more than just a healer: she has lots of utility that nobody else can bring to the table. I hope it isn't too big a spoiler to say that she's pretty much always a staple of my party.

English VA: Nicole Karrer

Jade Curtiss


Colonel Jade Curtiss, Third Division, Malkuth Imperial Forces. Jade is cold, calculating, and frighteningly intelligent. He's also the loving man for being a sarcastic rear end in a top hat any chance he gets, and for putting up with absolutely zero poo poo from anybody. When you ask a Tales of the Abyss veteran who their favorite character is, you're likely to hear Jade. Having said that, Jade has an annoying habit that will start cropping up very soon.

Gameplay wise Jade is something of a Mage Knight, though he focuses more on the Mage side than the Knight side. Straight up Jade has the highest damage output on the team, and gets a wide array of artes covering the second to fifth fonon that he's more than happy to unleash. Jade also has a spear and a not-too-shabby selection of physical artes he can utilize to go to town on enemies at close range. He's not that bad at dealing damage, but Jade has very poor physical defense and will go down after only a few hits. Glass cannon probably sums him up well..

English VA: Kirk Thornton

Guy Cecil


Personal Attendant to Luke, and servant in Duke Fabre's manor. Gifted with a blade, patient with his charge and dedicated to his duties, Guy is an all around cool guy. He's older than Luke, generally level headed, but also has a good-natured streak of humor. He does however have a crippling fear of women, which I'm sure will have no bearings on the plot going forward.

In combat Guy plays foil to Luke fairly well. Where Luke is slow but sturdy and focuses on swinging every which way, Guy is fast but fragile, with artes and sword swings that let him zero in on a single target. Guy is something of a glass cannon compared to Luke, but he can take much more punishment than Jade or Tear. Guy's offensive output will quickly skyrocket past Luke, and he's the closest thing Abyss has to a combo-master. Personally Guy is my favorite melee character to use, but he only gets going once he gets up in his levels and has enough artes to really lay into some good combos.

English VA: Johnny Yong Bosch

Anise Tatlin


Fon Master Guardian of the Order of Lorelei and Ion's personal attendant. By far the youngest member of our cast at age 13, Anise's list of priorities can be summed up thusly: 1) Protect Ion, 2) Marry Rich, 3) Kick rear end. Anise lays it on thick at the best of times, tends to act a little too bubbly and is regarded by most of the fandom to be in the running for most annoying party member. Despite this she's somehow earned the trust of both Ion and Jade, so don't let her exterior fool you: Anise has some tricks up her sleeve.

Anise is Jade's foil in combat. As mentioned, Jade is a Mage-Knight with a focus on the Mage half. Anise is also a Mage-Knight, but likes being a Knight more. Her stuffed animal can turn into a huge machine of death that Anise rides around the battlefield. Anise is a good tank and a good damage dealer in close quarters, while she can support from the side-lines with dark and light based fonic artes. She'll never be the damage machine Jade is, but she also won't drop dead if looked at funny, either.

English VA: Melissa Fahn

Natalia Luzu Kimlasca-Lanvaldear


Princess of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and Luke's fiance. Which is kind of creepy, because she's his first cousin. Headstrong but kind, Natalia is notable for being the complete opposite of what you come to expect from nobles in JRPG's. Natalia takes a very proactive approach to her station, organizing several major public works projects for Baticul as well as using her influence with her father, the king, to lessen tensions with Malkuth. In many aspects Natalia is just as naive as Luke is, but she is also more mature and caring towards others, which makes one wonder what she sees in the idiot.

Rounding out this cast of foils, Natalia is the opposite of Tear. Natalia has no offensive fonic artes, but has a variety of long range physical artes based off her excellent archery skills. She's also a healer, but approaches from a completely different angle than Tear. Natalia's healing artes heal a single target for large quantities of health, as opposed to Tear who heals multiple people for a little. Natalia has excellent offensive capability, particularly against flying opponents, and once she gets her higher level healing artes she has no trouble keeping your party in tip top shape. Her problem however is that she's a little too arte happy as an AI, and coupled with the high TP cost of her healing artes Natalia has a tendency to zero out her TP very quickly, as opposed to Tear who burns more slowly. If you want to use Natalia, she really wants some of the later equipment that either increases max TP or decreases TP usage per arte.

English VA: Stephanie Sheh

Previous Party Members

Luke fon Fabre


Son of Duke Fabre and Lady Susanne, as well as heir to the Kimlascan throne through engagement to the Princess. Kidnapped seven years ago by Kimlaska's enemy the Malkuth Empire, he lost all his childhood memories. Our protagonist, though I assure you that soon enough, you'll wish he wasn't. At first glance Luke sticks closely to standard JRPG protagonist cliche's: he swings a sword, he's got amnesia and he's hopelessly naïve. However where Luke subverts the standard is in his status, namely being the noble in peril rather than the one saving them, and his attitude, namely that he's a massive prick. He also wears a hilarious Square Enix-esq outfit that leaves his entire midfriff exposed. Though I guess if I had abs like that, I'd want to show them off too.

Old and busted.


English VA: Yuri Lowenthal

Non-Playable Party Members

Fon Master Ion

Fon Master of the Order of Lorelei, which pretty much means he's the Pope all things considered. All around nice guy, but with a weak constitution and a habit of getting kidnapped. Can kick rear end when he needs to, though.

Mieu

The adorable fuzzball that acts as the party's sorcerer's ring. Exiled from his tribe for being a pyromaniac, he's rolling with us now. Has an annoying voice, but he's good at solving puzzles so we let that go.

Sydin fucked around with this message at Mar 27, 2014 around 18:13

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

It Started With A Song

Click here to watch the video.



ND 2000: In Kimlasca shall be born one who inherits the power of Lorelei.



He will be a boy of royal blood, with hair of red. He shall be called: “The Light of the Sacred Flame”, and he will lead Kimlasca-Lanvaldear to new prosperity.



ND 2002: “The One Who Would Seize Glory” will destroy the island on which he was born. A land by the name of Hod.





War shall thereafter persist between Kimlasca and Malkuth for a full cycle of the seasons.





: “So, the time has come.”



: “Prepare...”



Ominous.



Tales of the Abyss is one of those games that uses a unique system of dating, and tells the player nothing about it. This would be equivalent to Monday, January the 23rd. Not really relevant, but hey.









: “Guess I'm hearing things...”

Well anyway, we have control now. Let's check this place out.



: “Hello, Master Luke. Nice weather we're having today.”

Holy art-shift, batman! There are a lot of characters that show up in this game that are important enough to warrant an actual character portrait instead of just a smile substitute, but don't get decent enough face shots from the game to use as one. In such cases, I'm turning to the anime to pick up the slack. So if some of the portraits look a bit off, you know why.

: “Digging in the dirt again today, Pere? Don't you get bored doing that every single day?”

: “Not at all: this is my job. Nothing makes me happier than to see the flowers I grow warm the hearts of this manor's inhabitants.”

: “No offense, but I'm bored as all hell of this manor. I want my freedom.”

: “Yes, I can understand how being forbidden to leave the manor would cause you to feel that way. But it's an order from His Majesty himself. You just need to wait a little longer... until you come of age. I'm sure you're used to these flowers by now, but I still hope they can warm your heart.”



The Score is pretty important going forward, but for now it doesn't really affect much.



: “Good morning, Master Luke. “



None of these generic maids and guards really have anything to say.





We're not allowed to explore just yet, so all we can do is head for the entrance hall.



: “What? Master Van's coming? Today's not a training day.”

: “I've heard he's here on urgent business. I was told they'll be calling you later, Young Master, so please wait in your room.”

: “Stop calling me “young” already.”

: “No, until you reach maturity at age 20, I shall continue to refer to you as Young Master.”



Ramdas has the misfortune to actually have been cut from the anime, so I can't even be clever and give him one of those portraits. Sorry Ramdas. At least we can talk to him a bit more.



: “Please stop fraternizing with the gardner, Pere. It isn't fit for you to be speaking to one of his status.”

: “...I know, I know. Sheesh. And quit giving me orders!”

: “My apologies.”



The guard is stopping us from leaving, so I guess it's back to the bedroom.



First, I'll save. As per the standard of JRPG's, save points are random glowing circles that are littered around the game world.



Ah, a skit! Skits are Tales series standby. Periodically while playing, a prompt will appear to hit select. Doing so will trigger a short scene of banter between party members. Some are informative, some are silly, and so on. Since all we have in our party at the moment is Luke though, he's just... talking to himself.

It's also worth nothing that like Symphonia and unlike Vesperia and Graces, skits in Tales of the Abyss are not voiced.

Skit: Another Boring Day

: *sigh*

: "If they're not going to let me leave, the could at least try to keep me amused."

: "If I didn't get to train with master Van, all I'd do every day is eat, sleep and hang out with Guy."

: "There's got to be SOMETHING more interesting to do around here..."



The maid that was stopping us from going further north in this room has now vanished, giving us a little room to explore.





And by explore, I mean steal! Apple Gel is a handy item that heals whoever eats it for 30% of their health. Lemon Gel does much the same, but heals for 60%, double that of an apple gel. Gels are more or less potions in the Tales games. However unlike potions in Final Fantasy which heal you for a set amount of health (ie: 50 HP) gels heal you for a set percentage. An apple gel heals 30 HP on a character with 100 HP, and 2997 HP for one with 9999 HP. This is a big deal, because it means even the lowest tier of gel never loses value as the game goes on. It doesn't make much sense logically, but it is a nice system that prevents early game healing items from becoming vendor trash in the late game.

The lemon gel is actually a very nice find: these don't become buyable (at least at a sane price) for quite a bit.



Anyway, enough petty thievery. Back to the bedroom. Upon entering...



Unknown: “Luke... fragment of... my soul... heed... my voice!”



: “Luke! What is it? Not another one of those headaches?”

: “Guy... is that you?”



: “It's okay. It's gone.”

: “You hearing things again?”

: “...I wish I knew what the hell it was. It's so annoying.”

: “They're getting more frequent. They started after you were kidnapped by the Malkuth Empire. What's that, seven years now?”

: “Thanks to them, now I'm going crazy...”

: “Well, don't worry about it too much. So, what do you want to do today? How about some sword practice?”

: “Sorry, not today. Master Van's here.”

: “Van? But today's not a training day, is it?”

: “Apparently, something came up.”

Knocking noise



: “Uh-oh. I can't let anyone see me in here. I'm out of here before I get caught. See you.”



: “Master Luke?”

: “Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Come on in, it's open.”



: “All right. Dismissed.”

: “Guess I'll get going.”

Before that though, let's go check on Guy one last time.



Er...what?

: “Luke! Do something! Please!”

: “Oh Guy, you're such a joker! You're going to go out with me later, right?”

: “No, look, I've already told you, I can't really... I mean...”

: “Honestly, if you keep acting like that, you'll never get over your fear of women.”



...Right then.



The guard who was in our way has kindly vacated. Before we hit the drawing room, you best believe there's one more thing to steal!



Eh. Gald is the in-game currency. Yes, they really did just replace the “o” in gold with an “a” and call it a day. 100 is... not that much. At all. Still, whatever. Let's roll.



: “You wanted to see me, father?”

: “Mmm. Have a seat, Luke.”



: “We'll have time for that later. First, we have to talk about something.”

: “Dorian General Grants is returning to Daath tomorrow.”

: “Huh?! Why?!”

: “You know that I am a member of the Oracle knights, part of the Order of Lorelei.”

: “You're their commandant, right?”

: “Right. As the leader of the Knights, it's my duty to provide protection for Fon Master Ion.”

: “What's a 'Fon Master Ion'?"



Oh hey, somebody else was at the table! Susanne's outfit kinda blends into the background and in the beginning shot of the room, her back is to the camera. The first time I played this, I was really confused as to where she came from.

: “It's thanks to Ion that the truce between the Malkuth Empire and our Kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear is in place.”

: “If Ion's predecessor, Evenos, is the hero who ended the Hod War, then the current Fon Master is a symbol of the peace that reigns today.”

: “Unfortunately, Ion has gone missing.”

: “Therefore, I must attend to my duty as an Oracle Knight and join the search for Fon Master Ion.”

: “Hold on, you can't do that! If you go back home, who's gonna train me?!”

: “Heh heh. Settle down. I'll have one of my men come here until I return to Kimlasca.”

: “But I want YOU to teach me!”

: “Don't be selfish, Luke. Dorian General Grants will return as soon as possible. It's high time you learned some patience.”

: “Please dear! You know what this child's been through. He's still traumatized from the kidnapping. He even lost his childhood memories... the poor thing. Don't you feel for him?”

Er... thank you for that exposition there, Susanne. Also why do you refuse to refer to you son by his name, and instead keep referring to him as “poor thing” and “this child”?

Also I'm sorry but: amnesia subplot? In a JRPG? Get out.

: “Susanne. You spoil him.”

: “Still, a life locked inside a mansion like this is hardly easy.”

: “Seriously. Why does my uncle have to keep me trapped in here? Just because he's the king, he thinks he can order people around. Makes me mad.”

: “Luke, my brother is merely concerned for your safety. Just three more years, and you'll be free. Hold on a little longer, okay?”

See? Was it that hard to actually use your son's name?

: “Cheer up, Luke! We'll train hard enough today to make up for the entire time I'm gone.”



: “Thank you, Dorian General.”

: “I'll head on to the courtyard. Come join me as soon as you're ready.”

: “Luke dear, please do be careful out there...”

: “I know, I know. Jeez...”

Let me stop for a second and address the elephant in the room. We're not even ten minutes into this game and we've already been thrown a lot of terms that we don't know and haven't been explained. Order of Lorelei, Dorian General, Fon Master, and so on. As I said in the OP, Tales of the Abyss goes to great lengths to flesh out its setting and so there are a lot of terms that the player needs to know. Thankfully Luke is pretty clueless and has lost most of his memories, so everybody will, eventually, explain all of this to us him. Until then, just sit tight and keep these terms floating in the back of your mind.

Skit: Sword Training

: "Man... Master Van's leaving..."

: "I hope he comes back after he finds that Fon Master or whoever."

: "I mean, sword training's the only thing keeping me sane around here."

: "Oh, well. Guy's not to bad with a sword. Guess I'll just practice with him."



: “I'll have to leave everything to you, for the time being. The Duke, the King, and Luke's-”

: “Ah, Master Luke!”



: “Guy? What's up?”

: “Well, Van's a master swordsman, so I thought I'd ask for a little instruction.”

: “Really? That's not what it looked like to me...”

At this point the scene fades to white.





Somebody begins to sing.



: ~Tue lei zwe kuloa riou tue zwe~









: “Huh? Oh, right!”



: “Yes sir!”



: “Yeah, yeah.”



Battle!



Er..., training battle!

: “Yes sir.”

: “First, movement.”



Yeah... not sure how to transcribe that. Is this what Van's actually saying to Luke: move forward by pushing the control stick?

: “Space between you and your enemy is important in battle. Watch the conditions, and respond... well I actually doubt there will ever be any need for you to fight.”

Heh.

: “Humph. I want to show off some cool moves outside.”

: “This is not something for you to show off. Next, attacks.”

I'll be going over the fighting in a mechanics update down the road, so most of this tutorial has been cut. It's just more dry “press the square button to block!” dialogue.



So we wail on the dummy some and that's about it.

: “Good work. Oh, you will probably learn new artes as you gain more experience in battle. You can set them in the artes menu.”

What was the point of throwing in the “probably” if you're then going to instruct us on how to use them? This is more blatant than 'Collete learned judgment.'

Click here to watch the video.



The singer's voice is heard once again.

: “That voice...!”

: “I... I can't move!”

: “That's a fonic hymn! Has a Seventh Fonist invaded the manor?!”

: “Dammit, it's putting me to sleep... what the hell are the guards doing?!”







: “Tear, I knew it!”



: “Who the hell are you?!”





Unknown: “Resound...! The will of Lorelei shall reach you... and open the way!”

: “Not that weird voice again...”

: “The Seventh Fonon?!”





: “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGG!”



I hope everyone is all right. This is as good a place to stop as any, I guess. I'd have like to have left off on something other than a cliffhanger, but the next area is pretty self-contained and there's no point dipping into it now. See you next time!

Synopsis

A usual mainstay of the Tales series, the synopsis is more or less the game journal that tells the player where they are in the story, and where to go next. In more Tales games it's a very dry affair that pretty much just tells you what you already know. In Abyss however, the synopsis is written from Luke's perspective as it it were his journal. This means it actually has some narrative flair to it, and contains insights into events that Luke doesn't necessarily express during the course of normal gameplay. He also dates some of the entries, which gives you a good feel how long things are taking in game. I'll always drop new synopsis stuff at the end of each update.

It Started with a Song

Remday, Rem-Decan 23, ND2018

Looks like it's going to be another boring day. Not one thing has gone right over the seven years since my kidnapping. I lose my memory, they keep me confined here, I keep getting headaches and hearing things all the time...

But today, master Van came to the mansion, so maybe it won't be so boring after all. Time to head over to the drawing room to see him!

I heard some really depressing news in the drawing room... Master Van won't be able to come and train me for awhile. Apparently this “Fon Master Ion” or somebody from the Order of Lorelei disappeared, so he has to go help in the search. This really makes me mad!

Since he has to go away, he said he'd give me some training today in the courtyard.

But just as I was practicing with Master Van, I heard a strange song (a “fonic hymn,” he called it... what's that?). It made me sleepy, and then this weird girl came in and attacked Van. I tried to stop her, but all of a sudden some incredible power appeared between us, and we were thrown into a valley neither of us were familiar with.

Sydin fucked around with this message at Mar 14, 2014 around 23:33

TenaCrane
Sep 14, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Ground floor of a great Tales game, glad you're including the diary entries, they're really helpful in figuring out where to go if you haven't played the game in a while.



Some of your portraits are kind of fuzzy though, mostly Luke's.

edit: Guy only included for comparison

TenaCrane fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2013 around 01:15

RentCavalier
Jul 10, 2008

by T. Finninho


I never liked this Tales game nearly as much as Symphonia or Vesperia. It just feels off in too many respects--the script is clogged full of confusing terms, most of the characters are dull or terrible (with one extraordinary exception) and, most glaring, the cutscene direction is horrid. Every action sequence in the game is just framed and executed in a blocky, disjointed way that ruins any flow or excitement.

The battle system is nice, but it just feels like such a lackluster effort. It's clear they didn't have the budget or the time or something to fully execute their vision, and the vision we do get just feels like a watered-down Tales game. Nothing it introduces isn't done somewhere else better, and the main character being an enormous tool definitely doesn't help.

Momomo
Dec 25, 2009



I played this game for the first time maybe a year and a half ago, and remember pretty much nothing about it. I remember most of the plot points, but as far as events, they just kinda disappeared from my memory.

That said, I did enjoy the game. People have problems with the characters but I dunno, I thought all (yes, all) the playable characters were decent enough. Unlike the way Tales typically does things, you're at least not supposed to like Luke right now.

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

TenaCrane posted:

Some of your portraits are kind of fuzzy though, mostly Luke's.

Noted. The portraits are just kinda fuzzy in the game naturally, and coupled with the lowres my PS2 is putting out, it kinda shows. If it's bothering people, I have an idea to get around it.


RentCavalier posted:

Stuff about Abyss

Like I said, as much as I'm going to rib the game, I'm also going for the apologist play-through angle. All your points are fully valid (I mentioned most of them in the OP in fact!) and as the game goes on I'll tackle them one by one.

Though I have to say: Emil gave me a new appreciation for Luke as a protagonist. Just sayin'.

Gullwhacker
Aug 11, 2007


Thinking back on the series as a whole, I think Tales of the Abyss is one of my favourites.

This is due to personal appeal, honestly. One of the complaints I've seen about Tales of the Abyss is that it brings in a lot of terminology, and almost goes out of its way to explicitly explain the setting - right down to justifying game mechanics within the story. Not just 'by the way, Burst Artes exist', but 'spells don't affect allies due to casters setting glyphs on them in advance, meaning random bystanders don't get that immunity'. The story can get bogged down in the name of that internal consistency.

And that's just the way I like it.

Beyond that - the cast grew on me, the battle system is as mentioned excellent, and the music has some great pieces. There are a few leitmotifs that come up in many different forms, the opening theme being the most reused. Meaning of Birth is the best duel boss theme. The graphics have suffered, yes, and the lack of voicing for skits is practically a crime.

Overall, though, it stands up the best for me as a whole. Yes, I say that in the wake of Graces and Vesperia - they're great, but I give Abyss the nod due to music, oddly enough. It ties together well.

(As a final comment - Legendia's music was beautiful. Shame about...well, a lot of things.)

Digital Jello
Nov 2, 2012

Now I have a machine gun. Ho! Ho! Ho!


I could never finish Tales of the Abyss. It was one loooonnnng JRPG. My interest in the Tales series was rekindled with Vesperia and Graces F, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I missed in Abyss.

Chicken Slayer
Nov 7, 2009


The skits is a sore point, because in the Japanese version I'm pretty sure the were voiced.

That being said Abyss is my favourite game in the Tales and imo shapes out quite nicely, but only if you're willing to push through the beginning proportion of the game. That and resist the urge to punch Luke in the face through your TV for being a jerk. At least when you're in the field you also don't have to look at his well-drawn abs all the time.

Endorph
Jul 22, 2009

ASK ME ABOUT MY PRIVATE COLLECTION OF RARE MLP PORN!


Sydin posted:

Noted. The portraits are just kinda fuzzy in the game naturally, and coupled with the lowres my PS2 is putting out, it kinda shows. If it's bothering people, I have an idea to get around it.
There are high-res sprite rips of the character faces in skits laying around the internet, which at least solves the problem for the party members. Though I couldn't find one for Long Hair Luke, I'm sure it exists somewhere.

Pureauthor
Jul 8, 2010


I always had a soft spot for this game. Looking forward to seeing what you make of it!

Luke's mom looks a lot older in the anime than she does the game.

Wild Knight
Mar 27, 2010

Foul villain! I do not flee. I will never turn my back on you and run away!

[he says, running away]


Man, I couldn't play this game for the longest time because of how much of a jackass Luke is, but then stuff happens and I was like "huh...wow. I...can actually kind of relate to that. Not the whole...amnesia thing, but like, drat Luke, I feel you bro." Basically the story was the most enraptured I had been in a JRPG for a while and I still think, even with some obvious faults, it's one of the best stories in the Tales series. It is a shame it couldn't seem to have been budgeted better, though.

Aside from Luke's face portrait, I also want to say it's a little visually distracting to have your commentary in bold. Since you're already distinguishing dialogue with quotation marks, I don't really think the bold is necessary, but if that's what you want to do then okay.

Other than that, this LP's looking good so far and I'm definitely gonna keep an eye on it.

Leamonde
Aug 2, 2012


Time to add another Tales game to my reading list.
I'm excited for this.

Partly because I joked with my friend that I would do a Let's Play of this and use the sound and music inspired terms as an excuse to about music, ingame or otherwise.
And I'm with Gullwhacker in that the terminology and occasional story/gameplay integration was rather charming.

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

Endorph posted:

There are high-res sprite rips of the character faces in skits laying around the internet, which at least solves the problem for the party members. Though I couldn't find one for Long Hair Luke, I'm sure it exists somewhere.
Pretty much my problem at the moment, and why Luke's portraits in particular look fuzzy. One of Tear's does as well, because the hi-res rips are not comprehensive.

Wild Knight posted:

Aside from Luke's face portrait, I also want to say it's a little visually distracting to have your commentary in bold. Since you're already distinguishing dialogue with quotation marks, I don't really think the bold is necessary.
Noted! Let me take this time to mention that I welcome any technical suggestions or criticism. This is my first LP flying Solo, and also the first LP I've don't actually having to work with capturing footage and video editing, so if I'm doing something stupid feel free to slap me on the wrist.

Pureauthor posted:

Luke's mom looks a lot older in the anime than she does the game.
Yeah, I have no idea. Then again there are a lot of weird design choices in the anime. Tear looks very different, and a later party member is animated in a completely different style than the rest of the cast. It's odd.


Gullwhacker posted:

This is due to personal appeal, honestly. One of the complaints I've seen about Tales of the Abyss is that it brings in a lot of terminology, and almost goes out of its way to explicitly explain the setting - right down to justifying game mechanics within the story. Not just 'by the way, Burst Artes exist', but 'spells don't affect allies due to casters setting glyphs on them in advance, meaning random bystanders don't get that immunity'. The story can get bogged down in the name of that internal consistency.

And that's just the way I like it.
The best way I can put Abyss's story building in comparison to the other Tales games is with a story. Back in Highschool I rolled with a group that was big into D&D and other pencil/paper RPG's. We got to a point where each of us was hosting a game we set up around the D20 system, using settings we liked. I wanted to do a Tales game, but found Symphonia to be to hard to tailor a game around. Then I tried Abyss instead, and by the end of that game I had a half-binder full of backstory, mechanics, world history, DM notes, etc. I was able to build an entire adventure around the world mechanics presented in Abyss. Any game that can pull that off is pretty impressive.

Spiritus Nox
Sep 2, 2011

Trust us, we're highly trained medical professionals bears.


People hate on this game, but it's honestly one of my favorite JRPGs - granted, I unironically enjoy both FFXIIIs, so maybe I'm just dumb. Still, the battles are fun, I grow to like most of the characters (with one notable exception I'll be sure to point out when we see their stupid loving face), I really enjoy the villains (Seriously, if Vesperia replaced the vaguely defined baddies from its story with people as memorable as we'll eventually get to, its final acts would have been much more entertaining), and the graphics...well, let's face it, Tales has never looked great outside of battles, so I could deal. I'll try to follow this long-rear end game!

ChaosArgate
Oct 10, 2012

Relax. Where you're going, there is no weapon triangle.


Sydin posted:

Pretty much my problem at the moment, and why Luke's portraits in particular look fuzzy. One of Tear's does as well, because the hi-res rips are not comprehensive.

Here's a page with a bunch of skit faces for Luke and the mysterious girl. Not sure if these are high enough quality for the thread's liking. Slight spoiler warning on that page, so be wary if you wish to remain unspoiled.

Edit: I found another one that also has skit faces for almost all of the characters in the series. Oddly, the portraits for Luke that might warrant replacing aren't on this page. Major spoiler warning on that page across almost, if not all Tales games.

ChaosArgate fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2013 around 03:19

Smornstein
Nov 4, 2012


I really love this game the plot is pretty good, a step up from Symphonia at least, and it has some of my favorite tracks in the entire series but sadly they're all near the end.

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

I have to learn forbidden magic I took an oath to wipe out, stop an invasion of Orcs, rescue the Council of Seven, and on top of all that, I'm stuck with you.


Oh good, I've been eagerly awaiting the start of this since I saw the Sandcastle test post. Thanks for adding the video of Tear's attack. But seriously, Tear? Heels?

Seventh Fonon's reacting what? This game is definitely throwing you in the deep end right off, no doubt. It already seems clear that sound or music magic is a big part of the game.

This is looking really good so far (aside from Luke's fuzzy face, but I'm sure you'll fix that).

Stabbey_the_Clown fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2013 around 03:58

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

Stabbey_the_Clown posted:

Oh good, I've been eagerly awaiting the start of this since I saw the Sandcastle test post. Thanks for adding the video of Tear's attack.

No problem. It occurs to me I actually never thanked you for your advice in the Sandcastle, but I shall remedy that! Thanks for the input, I'm now keeping a much closer eye on the action to see if anything needs a video or .gif to get across properly.

McTimmy
Feb 29, 2008


Ah Abyss. It used to be one of my favorite games, and favorite Tales game period, but like all things, as I put more and more time I put into it the more its flaws began to enlarge until the point where they were actively damaging the enjoyment I got out of the game.

Anyway, really like you using the anime portraits for guys. Looks much nicer than the mud-filtered models in-game.

lotus circle
Dec 25, 2012

Jushure Iburu
So don't worry

I have a bunch of friends who always told me how amazing Tales of Abyss is but I never got the chance to play it. Reading an LP should be enough to satisfy them Looking good so far, can't wait to see more.

MrCinos
Dec 20, 2011


Abyss is by far my favorite Tales game (with Vesperia and Graces after it) so I'm really glad it has SSLP here now. I prefer Abyss in almost everything in comparison to other Tales games: plot, characters, setting, battle system, etc. And speaking of characters this game has my favorite set of characters and chemistry between them in any JRPG I've played, not just in Tales series.

It was the first Tales I managed to finish as though I played three games from the series before I also dropped them somewhere halfway through. Looking forward to read this LP and its comments.

MrCinos fucked around with this message at Jan 22, 2013 around 05:10

Dragonatrix
Aug 16, 2009

You have offended STRINGIE! You must be punished!


Leamonde posted:

Time to add another Tales game to my reading list.
I'm excited for this.

Man, thinking on it now I think Abyss might be the first Tales game I played. And yet, I don't know if I ever even finished it, and most of the things I can remember involve a guy we haven't met yet and something that I cannot forget no matter how hard I try.

I should probably see if I still have it lying around, or maybe finally try and get the 3DS version. It should be pretty cheap now, if I can somehow find it anywhere at least.

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


Man, I got around halfway through TotA a little over a year ago and never finished it for some reason.

Now that I have a 3DS I'll likely pick it up after Fire Emblem and Etrian Odyssey, but in the meantime I'll be keeping along with this!

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

So before I go the process of cropping and resizing Luke's dozen or so emotions, can I get some feedback on whether this looks good enough?

vs.

Left is the old portraits currently being used. Right would be the quality for the new portraits.

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


Right looks fine to me!

Leamonde
Aug 2, 2012


Sydin posted:

So before I go the process of cropping and resizing Luke's dozen or so emotions, can I get some feedback on whether this looks good enough?

vs.

Left is the old portraits currently being used. Right would be the quality for the new portraits.

Much improved~

Anastasiya
Oct 10, 2012


I agree that Abyss's world building is really nice. I can't really comment on the story since my personal dislike of several points clouds my judgement. The biggest problem for me that I didn't like any of the characters. In themselves, they might not be bad, the things the game did with them almost universally pissed me off.

For example, the way Luke's character development is handled never fails to make me grind my teeth.

Mind you, I still love Symphonia purely because I find the characters endearing is cliche and occasionally stupid.

ChaosArgate
Oct 10, 2012

Relax. Where you're going, there is no weapon triangle.



Right side looks much better!

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

I have to learn forbidden magic I took an oath to wipe out, stop an invasion of Orcs, rescue the Council of Seven, and on top of all that, I'm stuck with you.


Yep, that's much better. (Don't forget to fix them in the first update as well.)

Gato
Feb 1, 2012



Glad to see this getting LP'd, I'm in what is likely a minority of people who preferred Abyss to Vesperia. The characters can get annoying at times, but they're always relatable - you may not like where their development goes, but it makes sense. I think the technobabble works better here than in Symphonia or Vesperia because they really seem to have tried to make a consistent world, so it doesn't feel like it's being pulled out of nowhere.

Plus the music is excellent, particularly the battle tracks, as several people have said.

RentCavalier
Jul 10, 2008

by T. Finninho


Gato posted:

Glad to see this getting LP'd, I'm in what is likely a minority of people who preferred Abyss to Vesperia. The characters can get annoying at times, but they're always relatable - you may not like where their development goes, but it makes sense. I think the technobabble works better here than in Symphonia or Vesperia because they really seem to have tried to make a consistent world, so it doesn't feel like it's being pulled out of nowhere.

Plus the music is excellent, particularly the battle tracks, as several people have said.

Every Tales game soundtrack basically sounds exactly the same. Much like every Star Ocean OST sounds the same.

Tax Refund
Apr 15, 2011

The IRS gave me a refund. I spent it on this SA account. What was I thinking?!

I just watched the intro. Is it just me, or do some of the bits of that video look like a 4:3 aspect ratio picture has been stretched to 16:9? Many of the closeups seemed to have fat faces in that 4:3-stretched-to-16:9 way. On the other hand, I seem to be the only person mentioning it, so maybe it's just me?

Fake edit: I'm also getting this impression from Cutscene One: The Score. This screenshot, for example:



Does this look "stretched" to anyone else?

Fake edit number two: I see this was mentioned in the Sandcastle, but the videos linked here are the same ones linked in the Sandcastle. Did you ever get that resolution problem sorted out? Because the "fat faces" problem is really bothering me as I try to watch the videos.

Chickenfrogman
Sep 16, 2011


Throw me in with the pile that has Abyss as their favorite Tales game. Don't have a 360 so I was unable to play Vesperia, and I hate the central characters and plot in Graces so much that it's knocked below Abyss despite a superior combat system. It also helps that Abyss had a way better soundtrack.

Sydin
Oct 29, 2011

Synopsis: Tear is saying fonon a lot. Nobody's told me what a fonon is yet.

Portraits will be fixed later today after I get off of work, and the next update should be out late today/early tomorrow.


Tax Refund posted:

I just watched the intro. Is it just me, or do some of the bits of that video look like a 4:3 aspect ratio picture has been stretched to 16:9? Many of the closeups seemed to have fat faces in that 4:3-stretched-to-16:9 way. On the other hand, I seem to be the only person mentioning it, so maybe it's just me?

Fake edit: I'm also getting this impression from Cutscene One: The Score. This screenshot, for example:



Does this look "stretched" to anyone else?

Fake edit number two: I see this was mentioned in the Sandcastle, but the videos linked here are the same ones linked in the Sandcastle. Did you ever get that resolution problem sorted out? Because the "fat faces" problem is really bothering me as I try to watch the videos.

The screenshots in the update are fixed, but the intro video and first cutscene are holdovers from the sandcastle beta that I forgot to update. I'll fix that along with the portraits, thanks for pointing that out. However the video near the end of the update (Swept Away) should be in proper 4:3 unstretched.

InwardChaos
Oct 21, 2010

Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos.


This is one of the few Tales games I've actually played. I've put maybe 200 hours into the 3DS version.

I also glitched the game on that tutorial fight. Since Syn didn't go over it in detail, basically when you complete one of the steps of the tutorial, Luke will run back to the starting position automatically, and wait for the next instruction. If you somehow end up on the opposite side of the training dummy, and complete the step, Luke attempts to run back to the starting position, and gets stuck on the dummy. It forced a restart, but thankfully, it's only a few minutes into the game.

Fedule
Mar 27, 2010

You're saying...
Chawacters in this game...
...can die permanently?!


Even by Tales standards, this is a frankly astounding volume of silly made up words to be throwing around in the opening act.

Godspeed, sir.

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Tax Refund
Apr 15, 2011

The IRS gave me a refund. I spent it on this SA account. What was I thinking?!

Sydin posted:

The screenshots in the update are fixed, but the intro video and first cutscene are holdovers from the sandcastle beta that I forgot to update. I'll fix that along with the portraits, thanks for pointing that out. However the video near the end of the update (Swept Away) should be in proper 4:3 unstretched.

Good to hear, thanks. I'll be following this LP with interest, then.

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