In an RPG, having a cast that propels the story and begs the player to learn more is critical. In general, Tales is a series that tends to do this rather often with its characters. It sets things up and trickles out information, winking and nodding about things we will eventually get to know. Tales of Arise is no different, with its cast of characters harboring all sorts of secrets. These, in turn, provide plenty of fodder to keep things interesting. Discovering what’s going on, who they are, how their backstories connect to the world’s mysteries, and the development they’ll go through make it all more impactful.
Editor’s Note: There will be spoilers for Tales of Arise characters below. However, major reveals about Alphen and Shionne won’t be spoiled.
In the case of some Tales of Arise characters, the “secrets” are relatively minor and come up not long after we meet them. Almost immediately after meeting Law, we learn he isn’t just the designated close-quarters melee fighter who uses his fists. He’s the son of Zephyr, the Crimson Crows resistance leader who’s been helping Alphen and Shionne for hours. This connection fostered immediately offers a connection and makes him interesting. Because now there’s the process of learning why he’s there in Cyslodia while Zephyr was in Calaglia.
Likewise, it helps to make Rinwell, who initially seems like a normal young woman, more interesting. After meeting her, it feels like something of an escort quest. She doesn’t fight alongside Alphen, Shionne, and Zephyr. But when a critical moment arises, she uses actual Artes. Which spurs the reveal of her being the last mage on Dahna. It makes her fascinating, while also offering another mystery to piece together as we play. Why did some Dahnans have the ability to use magic? Especially since all Renans can use it.
Some of the secrets mean interesting character development. This is the case for Dohalim. He’s the first benevolent Renan we meet, Shionne aside. But it’s discovering why he’s that way that makes him compelling. Dohalim’s secret means discovering why someone who is “too good to be true” is. And then learning that the potentially altruistic approach isn’t genuine kindness. It’s an attempt to assuage his own guilt. Which in turn paves the way for genuine character development on his part. We get to see how the opportunity to join Alphen and Shionne change him.
Of course, the Tales of Arise characters with the biggest mysteries and secrets are Alphen and Shionne themselves. We know Each of them are something special. After all, it isn’t often you come across an amnesiac man in an iron mask who can’t feel pain and a woman with a blazing sword and “thorns” that cause devastating pain. The game does a wonderful job of teasing people over the course of the adventure. Even in Calaglia, when Alphen is still wearing his mask and we know the bare minimum about Shionne, there’s all this foreshadowing. We see glimpses of something Shionne is trying to control. Alphen experiences a flashback to a somewhat recognizable face and voice. And as more things happen, like Alphen’s mask beginning to shatter, Shionne starting to open up, and fateful encounters with antagonists, we get these hints of something more. And it all makes the reveals about what’s going on with them both and the world more fascinating.
Tales of Arise is the sort of game in which so many of its characters have some secret or element to their backstory that aids in rounding out the story. Perhaps the details people will stumble across will help make them more interesting and offer opportunities to develop them. In some cases, they can help hint at the nature of the world. And of course we have a few who, when their whole background is revealed, grant the kind of “ah ha” moment that makes everything make sense.
Tales of Arise is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.