#1 You don’t have to play a 100+ hour video game
Tales of Symphonia is an RPG that many have recommended to me over the years. Usually I am open to at least giving such recommendations an honest try, but this is one that I have long struggled with.
Howlongtobeat.com lists Tales of Symphonia as taking up to 200 hours to beat for those who seek out optional content. With even modest playthroughs that don’t go for full completion regularly clocking in at over 100 hours. I’d be hesitant to commit that much time to any game, but Tales of Symphonia wasn’t selling me on its gameplay either. In the few hours I played, I felt that the game was introducing way too many mechanics and progression systems. It felt exhausting to keep up with it all and that ate away at my drive to continue playing.
This was not a fun realization for me, because I did really enjoy the game’s story. I was therefore stoked when I found out that there was an anime adaptation. You mean I could enjoy the story & characters without ever needing to worry about EX-skills or techs or titles again? Sign me the fuck up.
Some cuts had to be made, of course. Even with just a few hours of playtime, I noticed story beats that had been changed or were missing entirely. I didn’t mind this however. Tales of Symphonia, in spite of whatever may have been cut for time, still manages to tell a great story. This is an excellent way for outsiders like myself to experience this fantastical tale, even if die-hard fans will be understandably irked.
#2 Classic adventure story with strong twists
The tale of Tales of Symphonia starts out very classic. In ancient times, a legendary hero partnered with the world’s Goddess to defeat the evil Desians. An age of prosperity followed that now threatens to come to an end. Millenia have passed and the Desians are back. Once again they torment mankind, while slowly causing the world to rot away.
16-year-old Colette is The Chosen. Appointed by the divine forces of the world to go on a journey that will conclude with her revitalizing the world. She is joined by her friends Lloyd and Genis, with more allies joining as her journey continues.
Classic “young heroes go on a quest to save the world” stuff. Or so you’d think. Even early on, Tales of Symphonia drops frequent hints implying that there is more to this story. Characters and factions are introduced with their own agendas, which often clash with Colette’s divine quest. It’s a story with many unexpected twists and betrayals. A story that occasionally fucks with your understanding of how these kinds of adventures should play out.
#3 Ufotable Action
Tying it all together, Tales of Symphonia is animated by studio Ufotable. A studio now renowned for creating intense action anime like the Fate series and Demon Slayers. Anime that are regarded as being several steps ahead of their contemporaries in terms of animation quality. Tales of Symphonia predates Ufotable becoming a household name, but is nevertheless VERY cool to watch.
Action scenes are highlights of the anime, yet remarkably frequent. The heroes take on armies of foes or giant monsters, all with unique choreography. Characters are taking up tactical positions and clashing with foes, performing iconic special attacks and casting magic. It’s hectic and thrilling to watch unfold.
Tales of Symphonia does occasionally utilize little time-savers like having an action shot of a character without an actual background. These are remarkably rare, however. Far more frequently, the camera pans out to give you an ideal view of the action. There are actual backgrounds where other characters move around. You get to actually see the swordplay unfold and how everything moves. It sounds so simple, yet so few other anime deliver on this front.
More like this…
Demon Slayer: Spectacular action series by Ufotable.
Persona 4 The Animation: Quality adaptation of a very long RPG.
Yuuki Yuna is a Hero: divinely ordained quest does not proceed as expected.