Tales of the Abyss was released on the ten year Tales anniversary which celebrated by Namco Bandai. In this particular title, Namco tried to do a more original story to be less cliche unlike with Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Destiny, and Tales of Legendia. It was made by Team Symphona, the only division that does a good job in creating realistic characters with a more realistic reactions from characters in a fantasy environment (Team Symphonia has developed the games Tales of Symphonia, Tales of the Abyss, and Tales of Vesperia).
The game starts off with your character not having his poor peasant village burned down by the final boss who is secretly responsible for every bad thing in the world. Instead your character is a rich noble who, while naive, is also rather arrogant and spoiled.
The game goes on to show the dynamic changes of this spoiled brat character and the other party members who come to join you.
Music: 8/10, the music isn’t all that great for the most part but the overworld music, the boss battle music, and a certain plot-related boss fight music is rather enjoyable to listen to. Typically, the more average songs are done by Motoi Sakurabe but a more enjoyable (what I personally think is the very best song this game has to offer and is worthwhile to listen to) music track was made by Motoo Fujiwara from the band Bump of Chicken (they were legally contracted by Namco to do the game’s opening, which is also pretty good).
Gameplay: 10/10, The gameplay is hit or miss, I suppose. It’s very enjoyable for me. Some people think of the controls as clunky but I disagree. You fight on a 3D field smashing the X button for normal attacks and O (with arrow keys) for “artes” (your special attacks). When you see elements drop down on the ground when you’re fighting, you can use them to make bigger elemental fields and power up your artes to do more damage. This “field” is called “field of fonons” (Commonly abbreviated as “FOF”). It’s fun to me so I’d give it a 10/10 especially when added gameplay effects such as “chambers” and your “Mystic artes” were implemented later in the game.
Characters: 9/10, Some were great, others not so much. As far as the main cast, some had great development like Luke (the main character), Jade, Natalia, Guy, and Tear. Anise… is questionable. Ion was someone who I couldn’t help but find likable. A certain story-related playable guest character, however, definitely received a significant amount of development that was only toppled by Luke’s own development.
Unfortunately the game isn’t all that perfect because there are some rather nasty glitches.
While some are thought to be great because they help make the guest character a permanent addition, everyone recognizes the nastiness of other, more notable, glitches.
On your second playthrough, you can use a certain “extensions” on Luke and Anise, that, while fun, end-up stopping characters from completing the spells they’re casting. Also, the worst glitch in the game, by far, is that boss’s who defeat you with their “mystic arte” will end-up crashing the game.
Overall, I give this game a 9/10, I wish I could give it a 10/10 but I’m already probably giving it too much credit due to the two notable glitches in the game. This game could have been better had it gone through more tests and not have been released without complete testing. But, many Tales fans have come to expect this from Namco Bandai.