Reviews | Written by Stephen J. Boothroyd 21/07/2021

CRIS TALES

PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE / SERIES | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

An indie old-school RPG with a hint of time travelling involved – is Cris Tales the next Chrono Trigger, or is it something that should be left in the past?

Within a few minutes of playing it becomes apparent the the game's title is a play on words, as two of the characters are called Cris and it involves magic crystals, which sounds a bit like Cris Tales. You are the game's protagonist, Crisbell, a young girl who activates a time crystal enabling her to see into both the past and the future. When seeing a future where her town is destroyed, she embarks on a quest to save it.

The game plays out like a traditional JRPG – you move around town conversing with people, and fight turn-based battles whenever you run into trouble. It's fairly standard stuff, however its time mechanics are what really makes the gameplay stand out. While walking around, the screen is split into three, allowing you to see the past, present and future all at once. You'll see children becoming adults becoming parents in the space of walking a few yards. It's fun to just wander round and see the environment and its people changing, but these time travel mechanics also add puzzles to the real world and to battles. Can't get past a boss's shield? How about soaking it with water and then sending them to the future where it has now rusted. Or use it to send enemies into the past so you're just beating them up as kids. Poison an enemy, send them to the future, now they're dead. The battle mechanics are fun and give you creative combos to play with, however it's really something you'll only need to use during boss fights.

The art style instantly stands out, visually appealing and unique with its colourful design. Unfortunately it's likely that this design work is what creates the game's biggest flaw (at least when playing on Switch) – the load times, more specifically the frequency of them when moving between screens and in and out of battle. With random encounter battles this just kills the flow of the game, making it quite painful and may well be a deal-breaker for some.

Cris Tales is beautiful RPG with some unique time travel mechanics, but the Switch version is unfortunately let down by performance issues. It might be worth considering other, more powerful platforms for a smoother experience.