Cris Tales isn’t just a game for people with my very particular tastes in UI, character design, and colorful graphics. It’s a unique experience in which you play a girl that can control time. It’s a role-playing game with choices and consequences. It’s a crafted love letter to games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.
Oh, and it has a talking frog with a top hat, too.
Cris Tales may be a Columbian indie game, but its inspirations come from Japanese RPGs. We take on the role of Crisbell, an orphan girl that lives in an orphanage in a small town. According to the developers, Crisbell is their take on how a Columbian Disney princess would look and act.
After chasing a talking frog called Matias, she unlocks the secrets of the all-powerful time crystals and gains the ability to see into both the future and the past. She foresees a dark future, which she decides to try and prevent. To do that, she must solve large and small problems alike.
In the Cris Tales Steam demo, we only get a glimpse of one of those small problems: Crisbell discovers that in the future, the houses of two families will decay and collapse. In a series of what are essentially fetch-quests, Crisbell can choose to save one of these houses. Her choice affects the future, but it remains to be seen what this would mean for the game’s story.
One of the more interesting things you can do in Cris Tales is sending Matias the frog back or forward in time, to interact with the past or the future. In the demo, you can send Matias to the future to bring back fruit from a tree you planted in the present. I’m especially looking forward to seeing all the creative ways in which this feature can be explored.
Time for Action
As a role-playing game, Cris Tales features turn-based combat. Apart from all the obvious mechanics that you would expect from a turn-based RPG, like offensive and support skills, Cris Tales also lets you control time in battle.
Controlling time during battles works in many extraordinarily creative and satisfying ways. Your location in relation to the enemies on screen is important – you can send enemies on your right to the future, and enemies on your left to the past. You can also undo the time shift to force the enemies back to the present.
Some of the enemies you face will attain younger, weaker forms if you send them to the past, while others might become stronger. There’s a lot of room for trial and error, and the results can be fun and surprising. What’s more, the effects you inflict upon enemies will also be affected by the time shift. A burning or poisoned enemy will receive all the damage from the debuff if you send them to the future, and a soaked enemy’s armor will become corroded and weak if you send it forward in time.
In addition to controlling time, Cris Tales also introduces timed attacks and blocks. You’ll have to learn enemies’ attack patterns to block them perfectly and know when to strike back.
Cris Tales draws inspiration from JRPGs, Disney, and Columbian culture. From the very beginning of the demo, you get to see all the bright and vividly colorful locations inspired by coastal Columbia. The characters and their clothes are also based on traditional Columbian clothing.
The menus, especially in battle, are stylized and neat, and really show the influence of Persona 5. Everything is just incredibly well-shaped and vibrant.
The music that accompanies exploration and battles is excellent and ranges from fun orchestrated music to upbeat rock. The game soundtrack will undoubtedly make it into my music playlist rotation.
Cris Tales is a visually stunning game that I cannot wait to continue playing. With its unique and fun battle mechanics and a beautiful world, this is a game to keep an eye out for. The demo is not very long, and you can play it yourself on Steam or GOG.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long for the gorgeous Cris Tales to be available. The game will be launching on November 17 for PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.