“You wanna own your sin, or you wanna let it own you?”
Hello! This is Grace, or Ecargmura on Discord and Twitter, and I am here to bring you a review of the first chapter of Crestoria for those who have and haven’t played the game.
This review will contain SPOILERS, so please turn back if you wish to not be spoiled.
Tales of Crestoria is a mobile Tales game released on the 15th of July after many delays. It is a crossover hybrid of a JRPG and a gacha game currently available on iOS and Android.
In the world of Crestoria (it doesn’t have a name, I believe), the world revolves around a society where crimes are condemned. Crimes are recorded in pendants called Vision Orbs, an item that all denizens wear. If one commits a crime, it is recorded in a Vision Orb and then broadcasted in a large orb adorned in a white pedestal called Vision Central where people can watch and condemn another’s crime—crimes can never be hidden because of this. When the criminal—or transgressor’s crime is finished recording, condemnation causes their orb to shatter and a marking called “Stain of Guilt” is embroidered onto them. When a transgressor is born, hooded figures called enforcers appear to dispatch them.
The first chapter shows just that. The first stage showed off how Vision Orbs work and how a transgressor comes to be. The denizens admire enforcers and transgressors are condemned and scorned.
The story starts off a bit light-hearted but still dark given how Crestoria’s society works. The story gets darker starting at stage 6 where we, the players, learn the darkness of the world. The shelter that Kanata and Misella live in…is a part of a human trafficking ring with Kanata’s father as the head. Cody sold boys for labor and girls for sexual purposes. Misella was on her way to being such a victim until Kanata stabs Cody. I think this is pretty dark even for Tales standards. It kind of shows that they keep producing darker stories ever since Xillia 2 came to be. Yes, I think Zestiria is pretty dark despite the light-hearted atmosphere it had. I honestly thought that Kanata committed patricide because Cody was going to do something…indecent to Misella, but it was all due to being a part of a human trafficking ring. Orphanages being a part of trafficking rings also happens in real life, so it’s pretty dark when incorporated into a fictional story.
After getting caught, Misella saves Kanata’s life by burning down the shelter. They run off, but Kanata decides to part ways with her after his Vision Orb shatters and becomes a Stain of Guilt. An Enforcer comes for him, but he manages to escape their clutches and run off and meets an wild and enigmatic man named Vicious, who is known as the Great Transgressor. He then asks Kanata if he wants to own his sin or if he wants to let it own him. Kanata wants to live, so Vicious uses a strange power that allows Kanata to wield a weapon called a Blood Sin that allows him to defeat enforcers, ultimately allowing him to survive from them.
To summarize the world building, Crestoria’s society is an allusion to cancel culture of today’s society. With the enforcers being the hashtag, the condemners being the instigators of the canceling, and the transgressors being the canceled.
The characters of Crestoria are in two categories: original and crossovers. The original characters are the six party members you see in the intro and everywhere else. They are the pivotal focus of the story while the crossover characters mainly play supporting roles.
The story revolves around our protagonist, Kanata Hjuger, the son of an orphanage shelter head, Cody. Kanata is a very pure boy who can be a bit condescending due to his ignorance and naivety. For me, personally, Kanata was irritating at first due to his incorrigibly pure personality that makes him come off as rather condescending. Heck, Velvet almost beat the crap out of him for thinking she’s a weary traveler. Kanata’s personality was at its worst when the Gordon incident happened. He admired enforcers like he was brainwashed and it almost gave him a creepy vibe. Do not worry, though. He gets much, MUCH better during Stage 6 where his humanity is shown underneath that purity. His sin is patricide, where he ultimately kills Cody to save Misella. I honestly loved that portion, not because it’s dark, but it shows that Kanata isn’t as ‘brainwashed’ as he appears to be. He rejects Cody’s morals and ideals, showing that he does have his own morals. Because Chapter 1 is only the beginning, I am curious to see where Kanata’s journey will take him.
Misella, on the other hand, is a bit different from Kanata in that she’s a lot more alert and clever. She comes into the story by sneaking up behind a villager and holding him against his arm to ask about what had happened in the village. She’s very strong, but likes to say she isn’t because she likes Kanata protecting her. I feel like she’s very fixated towards Kanata. Everything she does is for him. Burning the shelter? All to protect Kanata. Announcing that she had caused the crime to happen in order to become a transgressor? All for Kanata’s sake. Regardless, I think their interaction is cute, especially at the brightblaze field where Kanata makes her a hairpin. I feel like I need to see more to understand Misella’s depth, because she seems a bit one-dimensional right now, but I can see potential in her. Her crime is arson for she burned the shelter and it caused one casualty. Another thing I like about her is that she’s affiliated with the fire element. Not many females in the Tales series are associated with fire. I think the only ones associated with fire, excluding Misella, are Kohaku from Hearts, Lailah from Zestiria and Velvet from Berseria who has a lot of fire-based artes. I like it, honestly. Misella also has red eyes, which matches her element.
Out of the original characters so far, I like Vicious the most. He is very enigmatic. He is a protagonist despite his villainous tendencies. He seems wild and ill mannered, but he doesn’t seem to dislike Kanata’s company. I think the reason why I like him so far is that he’s full of questions. Why is he the Great Transgressor? What is his sin? I even concocted a theory that Vicious is most likely the offspring of a transgressor and an enforcer, given his stain of guilt on his stomach and the fact that he never used or had a Vision Orb, making his existence his crime/sin. The interaction between him and Kanata is very interesting to see given that they’re total opposites. I anticipate what the story has in store for Vicious. Will he die by the end of the story? Will we learn the truth about his powers? I also like how he’s full-blown villainous; he has no qualms about killing or hurting others because he’s already the greatest criminal in the world, so why not make more mayhem in a terrible society like this. He is the pure definition of an anomaly in Crestoria’s world. His intentions are in the gray area because they are neither good nor bad.
Onto the villains. The Enforcers are a much bigger mystery than Vicious, honestly. What are they? Why do they exist? Why do their hoods have cat ears? Only the mooks have been seen, so I want to see the leaders or the bigger figures of the group, which seems to be the girl with the pigtails and the white-haired stoic girl in the intro. I think the fact that they appear and take transgressors into a spatial hell is very creepy. To me, they’re like grim reapers clad in white. It also makes me wonder if crimes are their source of power.
Then we have the second evil organization: the knights. The knights exist because the enforcers don’t appear every often, so the knights are like police officers that are more active in subjugating transgressors. Aegis is one of the members. Given the intro and his design, it is very obvious that he’s going to take the Eleanor route and join up with the group (He has potential to become my favorite given how much I love Eleanor). I just wonder what his sin is going to be that will cause him to defect.
When Cody was introduced, I immediately got bad vibes from him. Given how Kanata was raised and how he idolized his father, his condescending nature must have been radiating the evil energy his father had. I think I’m a bit weird, because I think that Cody and Kanata might not be actual father and son and that Kanata might have been adopted because he needed a successor.
Gordon was probably inputted into the story as a victim of how society works. I don’t really care much for him. Though, I do like there’s a joke theory going around about how Gordon is going to the final boss. It’s amusing and it gave me a good laugh.
Before I talk about the crossover characters, I want to talk about the villagers. Holy heck, I hate the villagers. They are crude ignoramuses that love to condemn people just because they did something wrong like how they reacted with Gordon, Kanata and Misella. I mean, it’s a given how their society works, but to see the products of such a world makes it even more irritating. Nash is also very irritating. He just goes to blame Kanata for the fire and then when Misella reveals that she’s the arsonist, he then blames her for his sister’s death. Look, I understand your anger, but calm down! I feel like if his anger and condemnation consumes him, he can become a villain. I wonder how the villagers will react when they realize Cody isn’t a saint. Anyways, I hate these villagers as much as I hate the mayor from Iselia.
Regarding the crossover characters—the Tales characters of past games—they appear in Crestoria as denizens with roles that are quite similar to their roles back in their home games like Cress with the dojo, Leon being a knight and Milla and Velvet on a quest. I like that, honestly. It shows that the writers respect the predecessors and incorporate their lore into the story. I freaking love it. They aren’t very intrusive to the story either, given that it’s Kanata and co.’s story. I wonder who else will appear, what role they have, and how will it correlate to the lore of their home game. Also, I hope Cress is okay after what Vicious did to him.
The gameplay is pretty simple fun, honestly. I have a huge soft spot for turn-based games, especially given that I am a huge Pokemon fan alongside the Tales series. I know that LMBS is the series’ staple, but seeing a nice change of pace is good albeit risky for those who love LMBS. Though, I am not a fan of the cooldown system. I am a bit impatient by nature, so I get annoyed when I can’t use artes and have to wait a certain amount of turns to use it again. The positive side to this, however, is that it makes me strategize so that I don’t have to be annoyed to wait.
Grinding is necessary. Grind. Grind. GRIND. Power up your units. Power up your Memoria Stones. POWER THEM UP. The bosses in Chapter 1 are extremely tough if you are not prepared. I had a hard time with the Millionaire boss and the Great Enforcer boss. The farming and power-up system is actually very simple. The tutorials do a wonderful job explaining things thoroughly.
This game is a hybrid of an RPG and a gacha game. If you don’t know what a gacha is, it’s basically a game where you have to collect obtainable items via in-game currency. The gacha portion of this game is pretty nice. I like it a lot. It has nice animation and the fact that I can get my favorite Tales characters and assemble a party full of them makes me happy. I think the game is pretty generous with how much they give gleamstones, the in-game currency, often. I’m trying my best to save up so that I can get 10 summons at once. I want the summer SSR’s!
The equipment system is simple to follow and utilize too. It’s just a click and level up. I like it, honestly. Simplicity is underrated in games, at times.
For battles, I think the AI is pretty smart. They know who to target and such. One example would be when I fought enforcers at Stage 15; they would always attack Vicious first because he is dark-elemental while they are light elemental. I like it because it gives the gameplay a challenge. I have to think “How do I beat the enemies before they beat me?” The only thing I hate about the battle system? The EXP. Please give me more EXP!
The Arena battles are fun. It’s nice to mix and match teams and try to beat others and upgrade my ranking. I’m still trying my best to gather a lot of medals to get Chronos.
Another aspect of the game I like is the little character episodes that you can unlock for the original Crestoria characters. It gives the characters depth and learn what they are into. For Kanata, he is into fashion, so he is always talking about their fashion style. For Vicious, his episodes are mainly about Kanata trying to learn more about him; according to Vicious, his hobby is to piss people off. Wow.
I also love the voice acting. Holy cow, they got really great voice actors for the protagonists. I personally love Misella and Vicious’s voice actors and how they bring out the characters to life. The voice acting is a 100/10 for me.
The animation studio they use for the animated scenes is Wit Studio and not the usual Ufotable. I do like Ufotable, but seeing the Tales series use another animation studio is like a breath of fresh air. I do like how the characters look in anime form. I also like their 3D models too. However, what I love most about Wit Studio is their scenery. HOLY SNAP, the brightblaze field (the featured image)! THE BRIGHTBLAZE FIELD! That is such a gorgeous background! Wit Studio isn’t playing around!
The soundtrack is great! I love the battle theme! Vicious's theme is great too! I also love the song that was playing when Misella got her Blood sin--is that her theme? Anyways, there are instances where I leave the game on and not do anything with it because I just like the songs. Man, I need to know who the composer is. They need a raise.
The character designs are quite nice too. We’ve got series’ veterans, Kousuke Fujishima, Mutsumi Inomata and Daigo Okumura doing the character design alongside Miyuki Kobayashi, who designed Vicious and Aegis. Kobayashi has only been designing side characters in Zestiria and Berseria like the Zestiria villains, Bienfu and Seres. Vicious and Aegis are her first attempt at drawing main party members. I think they look great. I love how the designs are a mix of modern and fantasy.
Overall, I think the first chapter was a fantastic start to an amazing journey. I can’t wait for what Kanata’s goal will be now that he and Misella are going to accompany Vicious. Will they overturn the world? Will they defeat every single enforcer? I am excited.
I hope you all enjoyed this long review. I’ll try to make them a bit shorter next time. If you want, I can also do reviews of side stories and limited side quests as well.