Tales of Symphonia Remastered 1 1

Tales of Symphonia Remastered Review

A full 20 years after the original release, one of the most beloved games in the Tales series is getting another remaster. Tales of Symphonia is the fifth main entry in a series that started way back on the Super Nintendo with Tales of Phantasia. Tales of Symphonia, when released on the Gamecube and PlayStation 2 marked a return to the JRPG mainstage as it was the first to use 3D graphics in the series. This game was so huge back in the day that it spawned an anime series, several drama CDs, books and manga adaptations

Lloyd Irving Is Back…Again

This has been remastered previously, in the form of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles for the PlayStation 3. This contained the original game remastered and a port of the sequel, Dawn of the New World, previously only available on the Nintendo Wii. This current iteration is now available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox consoles. For the purpose of this review, I played on PlayStation 5.

If you enjoyed this review, you can check out my other articles here.

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Back on the road again…

The Game

Our tale begins with Lloyd Irving as he is banished from his village for reasons which become apparent in the first few hours (those damn Desians). What ensues is a journey of epic proportions. Here’s a little catch-up for first-timers.

The world of Sylvarant is depleted of mana, the energy that flows through all living things, and only the Chosen One can regenerate the world. The Chosen One just so happens to be Lloyd’s childhood clumsy friend, Colette. With Colette leaving the village, and Lloyd’s banishment, he decides to set out after her and her companions on a journey that is not so straightforward.

The story is a fantastic, well-written, and complex narrative with many plot twists and turns while also remaining unafraid to explore tough social subjects such as slavery and racism. The chemistry between the characters stands front and centre as though the story evolves, you really tend to care about them and their fates. Each one of them has their own distinct personality and motivations throughout the game. Even though Lloyd is the main dude, there is much to love about Colette, Kratos (not that Kratos), Genis, and others. Without giving too much away, the story does get VERY interesting, in a ‘parallel worlds’ kind of way.

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I think you’re safe Lloyd

As is standard with Tales games, a lot of character development comes in the form of skits. These are interactions between the characters that build their story and are usually pretty funny. Interestingly, like the original game, these skits are not voiced in English. However, if you play the game using the Japanese dub as a lot of JRPG players do, the skits are fully voice just adding to the hilarity of the situation.

Additional to the various locations and overworld, you will visit a lot of dungeons loaded with gear, secrets, and puzzles. These are woven into the story very well and aren’t too overbearing in length. Some of the puzzles early in the game are surprisingly challenging though.

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You look a bit lost there Lloyd

While the battle system has the fundamentals of most JRPGs, it remains fairly unique to Tales games with its combination of real-time combat and strategy. On the battlefield, you will control the party leader. This is Lloyd by default, but you can change this in the menu at any time. The rest of your party are AI controlled and will act independently or follow your orders should you set your strategy up to do so. Other than scripted battles, there will be many opportunities on the overworld map. Encounters on the map are random but not in the traditional sense. You will see enemies pop up on the map as you traverse the region but it is up to you if you fight them or not. It’s worth noting that you don’t know what enemies you’ll be facing until the battle begins. In this respect, the game does show its age a bit as they are very generic looking until you enter battle. Obviously, this is a great way of farming XP in preparation for the road ahead.

Initially, combat seems fairly simple. Battles are fought in a linear fashion with your character though you can choose any target to pick on. Standard attacks can be chosen depending on which direction you are holding the left stick. These standard attacks build up tech points that can be spent towards stronger attacks, equivalent to abilities. These are known as ‘artes’ in other Tales games. These abilities vary from strong melee attacks to various elemental ones, and you can choose which ones you can actively use in combat. You will learn more and more of these tech abilities as you progress through the game.

As the game goes on, it uncovers a really deep and complex battle system which may seem a little intimidating to get your head around. Once you play around with it though, it’s really fun to see how you can tailor battle styles to a situation. Eventually, you will learn about Unison Attacks which can be very handy in a boss fight.

Setting the strategies can be very complex in terms of how you can customise them to give you the edge in every battle. For example, there are some basic ones like an all-out attack or having the whole party on their guard. But dig deeper and you could have party members healing when their health goes below a certain percentage, or they can guard another party member. There are a lot of strategy options to play with. As the other party members act of their own will, sometimes I would set them to only use certain types of elemental magic spells. If you know the weakness of your enemy, this is particularly helpful to restrict the elemental attacks they cast so as to not waste energy on useless attacks.

Look & Sound

Well, it looks like a 20-year-old game with cel-shaded graphics has had a coat of polish applied. This of course is part of the game’s appeal. There isn’t really much you can do with this graphical style to make it look better without changing it completely. Adding a few modern touches means this game has aged pretty well and does nothing to take away from the original aesthetic.

Dividing the gameplay and fleshing out the story are some gorgeous anime-style cut scenes. A lot of this game’s success can be attributed to the character design. Kōsuke Fujishima was brought back to design the characters for the first time since Tales of Phantasia back in 1994. While the frame rate is locked at 30FPS as opposed to the original 60FPS on the Gamecube, it really doesn’t hurt it in terms of fidelity and performance.

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A moment between Lloyd and Colette

Long-time Tales series composer Motoi Sakuraba developed another remarkable soundtrack that complements the game’s story and characters wonderfully. Voice acting in both English and Japanese is very good at conveying the personalities of each character. My only gripe, as I mentioned before that the is no English dub for this skit. It doesn’t affect me personally as I like to play in Japanese, but there are a lot of people out there who would rather English.

Length & Replayability

By JRPG standards, the game is about average in length. By other game standards, this will take a whopping 50 hours just to complete the main story. Throw in all the side content, mini-games, and post-game activities and it could easily be tripled. As big as Tales of Symphonia Remastered is, I think not including its sequel like on Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is a bit of a missed opportunity. I for one would love to play it and will probably end up seeking out the version on PlayStation 3 anyway.

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How dare you remaster this game without including the sequel!!!

The Verdict

For people who have played Tales of Arise and wanted to play an earlier title, Tales of Symphonia is a great place to start. This, Tales of Vesperia, and Tales of Berseria would all be perfect for an overall Tales experience. Overall Tales of Symphonia is one heck of a game with a sweet cast of characters and an emotional storyline. The remaster adds a bit of spit and shine to a JRPG classic to bring it into the current generation while remaining faithful and authentic to the original. It’s just a shame that it did not include the sequel. But still, you do get a lot of game for your money considering this is half the retail price of a new AAA game.

A code was kindly provided for us to review this

We Score This Game

rating score: 8

Very Good!

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