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Cris Tales preview: Time-traveling trials

Join a young maiden named Crisbell as she sets off on a journey that spans past, present, and future in this picturesque RPG.

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If you had the power to travel through the past and forward into the future, what would you do? In Cris Tales' case, a uses this one-of-a-kind ability to right the wrongs of the world she lives in. It's a noble cause, but it's one that will ultimately lead her to much hardship. Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but it must be done. 

In Cris Tales, you'll meet Crisbell, who wields the magical time-based ability to see into to the past as well as the future simultaneously. Her powers are laid out in front of her in a triangular "windowpane" view that gives you a brief look at scenes in the past and future in real time. It's an inventive mechanic that offers a glimpse at the way Crisbell's actions can change the world around her, and it should make for a fantastic take on the traditional role-playing genre. 

Described as a "gorgeous, indie love letter to classic JRPGs," Cris Tales serves up a delectable buffet of eye-popping color, unique character designs, and a storybook-like world ripe for exploring. Using Crisbell's unbelievable time powers, it's up to you to join her on a very special mission: dismantling a malevolent being's plans to destroy the world – and solving a myriad of problems facing her world on the way there. 

I attended an online preview session with Derek Neal, Executive Vice President of Production, Modus Games, and Carlos Rocha Silva, Studio Head of Dreams Uncorporated and CEO of SYCK. During the preview, we were shown additional content beyond what the E3 2019 preview contained, much to my delight. The latest glimpse into Cris Tales found us journeying into the town of Saint Clarity, a wealthy kingdom with its own share of secrets. If you've played through the free demo of Cris Tales available on Steam, this area is where the demo leaves off. Crisbell spends some time here trying to understand her new time-centric powers. This is also where the game tends to branch out into some side quests. 

Much of Crisbell's journey will find her interacting with the diverse townsfolk around her as she works to figure out the source of the Ash Blight plague that's destroying the areas around her home. Much of the game revolves around investigating puzzles that require you to put the time powers at your disposal to good use. As a result, you will have to make some very difficult decisions with potentially devastating ramifications down the line.

Learning to live with these decisions is just part of the game, and will likely make for some of its most exciting moments. I can't get into some of the story-related decisions you'll need to grapple with, nor some of the interesting revelations that were shared during the demo, but suffice it to say there will be some jaws dropping when Cris Tales makes it out to the masses. 

Combat is an exciting endeavor that takes Crisbell's time powers and takes them to a whole other level. Visually, both random encounters and boss battles resemble games like Persona in terms of menus and action icons. In terms of how fights play out, they feel quite similar to games like Super Mario RPG or Paper Mario.

Crisbell can be placed in a party with two additional characters, with all participants taking turns to put the hurt on the enemy. If you press the right button before your attack lands, you'll get a damage bonus. You can do the same while getting hit to defend yourself from an onslaught of attacks.

But the most interesting part of battle comes in the form of the status effects Crisbell can cause with her time powers. She's actually able to send enemies to the past or future to change their strengths and weaknesses. We were treated to a series of moves that showed off just how creative this system actually is.

For example, sending a character into the past could de-age them and make them weaker, or sending them into the future assuming they'll grow into old age could backfire and instead make them even stronger. There are some very cool combinations to be made with these mechanics in mind, and many will surprise you.

Battle and puzzles won't be the only way Crisbell spends her time. There will be an in-game shop to visit to stop and refuel to get the things she needs to continue her journey. You can also spend time just getting to know the citizens throughout the game world and taking in more of the lore that permeates the story. It's certainly a game that demands you take the time to get to know.

If the images you've seen of the game thus far weren't enough to convince you, take it from me that it appears to have gotten even more breathtaking since the last time I saw the game, with eye-popping hues and arresting character designs. The voice acting is fantastic, and the music fits each scene beautifully. It's like watching a storybook coming to life.

I was enamored with this new look at Cris Tales, just like I was with the first time I laid eyes on it. It's currently set for a November 17 release date, but if you need a taste of the game before then, be sure to try out the free demo via Steam.

Senior Editor

Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a Senior Editor at Shacknews who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more. Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched!

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