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Tales of Arise’s Darker’s story is perfect for its JRPG formula

Tales of Arise is the most recent installment in Bandai Namco’s Stories series, a sprawling action-JRPG series, known for its merciless questioning of fantasy and sci-fi genre conventions. While previous titles in the series are known for their anime-styled graphics and playful writing, the series also has a reputation for entering some surprisingly gritty territory. Tales of Arise making the most of this legacy to present an unattractive dark look at the unfair world it was made of, all in line with the JRPG formula.

JRPGs often delve into dark and mature themes, but due to the structure of these games, those themes often appear at the end of a given title. In other words, discussing the actual topics of many JRPGs means sharing destructive software by default. However, some JRPGs – including Iconic Final Fantasy 7 – don’t bother pretending that the stories they tell won’t go to dark places. Tales of Arise begins with establishing that the main characters’ home planet has been invaded by invaders, and world building has only gotten darker from there.

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Tales of Arise: An Occupied World

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Most of the games in Tales series takes place in a relatively low-tech fantasy world, which ends up in conflict with another world that boasts a higher level of technology and a more corrupt society. However, Tales of Arise put a sci-fi spin about this by introducing the concept of an alien invasion, and then letting it play out uncomfortably like historical real-world imperialism.

At the beginning of the game, the planet Dahna has been invaded by the neighboring planet Rena, and the Dahnans have been enslaved for 300 years. Players take on the role of amnesiac Alphen, Renans rebels known as Shionne and Dohalim, and freedom fighters Dahnan Law, Rinwell and Kisara, to free the Dahnans from their oppressors.

Dahna is not a cyber astigmatism like Final Fantasy 7Midgar’s, but it can cause frustration and hopelessness for a similar brand. The people of Dahna are being senselessly murdered so that the noble Renans can win a contest. Their planet is infected with invasive monsters that make travel dangerous.

In addition, each individual Dahnan has a soul core implanted in them to capture the soul energy their bodies give off when they are overworked. The main story and side quests allow the player plenty of time to dig deep and get personal with the consequences of Renan’s wrongdoing. The result is a world between trap of a standard JRPG plot – heroes struggle to free a conquered fantasy land – while focusing on themes some may find uncomfortably familiar.

Against the system

The Story of Arise Shionne Gun

Tales of Arise It’s not the first time a video game has dealt with issues of colonialism, aggression, and imperialism, but it’s possibly one of the most striking about it, especially since narrative-heavy structure of an RPG allowing it to explore the society Rena had created in detail. Although Dahna and Rena do not directly resemble existing countries or cultures, they do fit a certain pattern that has been seen time and time again throughout history.

Rena, the technologically advanced invader, is exploiting Dahna to the point of destroying it, and Dahna’s inhabitants are fighting back in as many ways as possible. When Tales of Arise Without presenting all Renans as evil or even villains, the game makes it clear that Renans like Shionne and Dohalim are all heroes despite the system they live in, not because of it. Dohalim in particular only appeared after he was determined to destroy the system that gave him power.

Prior to Tales series title like The story of Berseria could have introduced players to worse worlds and more brutal heroes, but Tales of Arise possibly the most frustratingly relevant games in the series to date. One of the main themes of Tales of Arise is hierarchical, authoritarian, period and who heads tend to be authoritarian – a theme that could have an especially devastating impact on the political climate in 2021. The main cast all fit the character archetypes. JRPGs exist, but this just makes it easier to see how their roles parallel the lives of people in the real world. All together, Tales of Arise is a dark story that still fits the JRPG mold perfectly.

Tales of Arise currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

THAN: Tales of Arise Gets Major Snub at The Game Award 2021


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Tales of Arise: All the Miscellaneous Side Quests (& How to Complete Them)

The ending stages of Tales of Arise see the party venture into space, where they’ll find six additional side quests just waiting to be completed.

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