PAX Online: Cris Tales – First Impressions

Cris Tales is a love letter to classic JRPGs, that’s for darn sure, and the comparisons to Chrono Trigger are both warranted and not subtle. In fact, this may be one of the most creative time travel games since Chrono Trigger, and we’ve only scratched the barest surface level of what we have a feeling this game can do.

The first thing to note is the art style—it’s cartoonish in a pleasing way, like a Saturday morning cartoon or Disney film in video game form. It’s bright and very crisp, accessible and visually pleasing for all ages. It’s also done in a kind of 2.5D, where your character moves in a linear way and the scenery shifts around you. It’s hard to describe, but it’s really cool.

The game stars (the rather awkwardly named) Crisbell, a young woman who lives at an orphanage, in a peaceful and devout town. A frog wearing a top hat steals her rose, so she gives chase and ends up at the local cathedral—where the frog speaks, introducing himself as Matias. And if that wasn’t alarming enough, she also learns that she’s a time mage with the power to see into the past and future.

And she can send people through time, or move through it herself. Surprise!

The game seemed pretty ho-hum and basic (visuals aside) until that mechanic was introduced. It becomes immediately apparent that this game means business, and that you’re about to have a wonderfully unique experience—well, in the full game no doubt, since we only got a taste in the demo. Still, here’s what we mean: the past/present/future versions of the world are concurrently visible on-screen at all times via a triangle setup. Crisbell is in the middle of the screen which shows the present, and either side of the screen shows a slice of the past and a slice of a possible future. As you walk around, you’ll literally see the present shifting between past, present, and future, which is fascinating. To complete quests, you’ll send folks to the right or the left of the screen as needed, watching them and the scenery age or regress as they move through time to accomplish tasks.

And this time travel element isn’t only part of exploration and questing—it’s also important in combat. The demo included a boss who hid behind an enormous metal shield which was immune to attack. To counter this, Crisbell needs to instruct another party member (who you meet in the demo) to cast a water spell on the shield so that it gains ‘wet’ status. Crisbell then uses her turn to push the boss into the future (ie. into the triangle slice on the right side of the screen), where the shield has rusted and is no longer fully functional. Only then will attacks land, and the boss needs to stay in the future for the remainder of the battle or else the shield will revert to existing in the present, where it’s still at full strength.

There’s a massive amount of potential here, and the creativity of even just this one boss-defeating strategy has us hopeful and excited for what’s to come in the full game. There’s JRPG love, and then there’s taking it one step further with the addition of new and fresh elements the way Cris Tales has done. We’ll be watching closely for the release of this one for sure.


PAX Online Listing Information:

  • Available on Microsoft Windows / Nintendo Switch / PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 5 / Xbox One / Xbox Series X
  • Genre Role-Playing
  • Release date 17 November 2020

Cris Tales is a gorgeous, indie love letter to classic JRPGs with a new perspective. Peer into the past, act in the present, and watch as your choices dynamically change the future — all on one screen as you play!


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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