As you’d expect from a game about a time mage, Cris Tales will be the kind of title where choices matter. The decisions people make shape the course of the game. Which in turn alter what you might see and do. Since you’re always often seeing what happens in the past, present, and future at once, it makes things even more evident. And, in a Cris Tales hands-off preview session, I got a better idea of how that could work.
Essentially, players follow a young woman named Crisbell. She learns she’s a time mage, and as such becomes embroiled in events throughout her world. She’ll also join with allies to fight those will ill intentions, like Cristopher and JKR-721, and uses her skills to influence the present and future.
In the hands-off preview I saw, it showed how things could possibly change. You always have this sort of vision when you’re in town. Which is something that’s been shown off in trailers and even the widely available demo. But there’s a depth to it. For example, the cities with potential problems Crisbell visits each have at least three possible outcomes. How much you do and what you choose to do influences it.
For example, the Cris Tales preview session involved a city called Cinder. When Crisbell and her group visited, it was clearly ravaged, with lava around and buildings devastated. But if someone takes on extra side quests, this damage can be mitigated. Levies can be fixed. If you do that, you can raise them when the calamity strikes. There will also be an opportunity to help with the evacuation efforts.
Even how things proceed could be left up to the player. During my session, I learned that the story essentially is spread out into three parts. The first is a linear path, where Crisbell goes to different kingdoms and assists with issues that can shape their future. In the second part, she’ll be investigating ruins. This is more freeform and allows people to choose which place they’d like to go next. By the time the third comes around, there will apparently be freedom to go anywhere and fly to different places to complete goals.
However, when you’re actually in a dungeon, the time-based mechanics don’t appear in the same way as they do in towns. you won’t see the past, present, and future at once. You’re in the present there, though each dungeon will have its own unique mechanics used to clear it. It’s then that the time-based mechanics become the focus in battles. Crisbell could use her abilities to alter the flow or change the ages of opponents. However, when it comes to bosses, they might react differently to Crisbell’s use of time. So a trick you might have relied on during normal fights seemed like it could end up resulting in a different effect in a boss battle.
While only the full and final game will show the full scope, the Cris Tales demo and hands-off preview both seemed to suggest the power players will hold. It seems like how much effort someone invests will drastically alter the course of both cities and people. When it comes to what the future holds, each player will decide how much Crisbell can help.
Cris Tales will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Google Stadia on July 20, 2021. A demo is available.