During the sixth gaming generation, several titles were released that would substantially impact what modern gaming would look like. Among them was the GameCube classic Tales of Symphonia. Despite being the fifth entry in the Tales franchise, it was the first title to make an impact in the west, with later titles, such as Tales of Vesperia, making it the household name it is today. In honor of the title’s 20th anniversary, Tales of Symphonia Remastered was announced for more players to experience this classic. With so much history, does the iconic title stand the test of time, or does it fall short of expectations?
Tales of Symphonia Remastered explores a couple deep and complicated narratives. Colette’s pilgrimage, secret organizations, and issues caused by mana becoming a less common resource. Each plot slowly expands to reveal exciting details, such as Collette needing to give up her humanity to complete the pilgrimage, which captures player’s interest and doesn’t let go until the final moments.
Even by today’s standards the narrative remains pretty good. It isn’t quite as revolutionary or shocking, though the well written characters will make you care regardless. This is furthered through scenes that explore each of the characters and give the cast plenty of time to find their place. While narrative remains solid, gameplay is in a more ambiguous place.
Since this is a remaster, instead of an outright remake, many of the original quirks are present. Characters have a goofy, simplistic look; specific details have not stood the test of time, with certain elements drawing attention to these negatives.
A Brief Look at How the Graphics Look
Take the images above. Character models, fence wood, and buildings look pretty good. Other elements, such as the grass, don’t look as nice. This is especially true for grass to the top left, which also looks pixelated. Certain scenes aged better than others, but there are many scenes where the contrast makes the issues seem more apparent.
Combat also didn’t age particularly well. Instead of having a full range of motion, everything is a lot simpler here. Characters generally move in a 2D space dictated by the current target, with fighting coming down to swinging, blocking, or using magic. Similar things apply to enemies as well. Most of their attacks are telegraphed, with your options being block, try to stun them, or move out of their range. These elements get better overtime, though it falls short of most modern experiences.
Fights Really Show its Age
Performance is also on the somewhat underwhelming side. Given the age, Tales of Symphonia Remastered should preform a lot better. Sometimes actions will have a slight delay, cutscenes have noticeable loading, making the whole experience feel even more dated. This is even more apparent given similar remasters found other ways to improve these shortcomings.
Tales of Symphonia Remastered Review Verdict
Overall, Tales of Symphonia Remastered is in a rough place. It has many negatives found in the original, with confident choices that either fail to correct the original problem, or introduce something that makes another element worse. Add in various mechanics that haven’t aged particularly well, and you have an experience with limited appeal. Fans or the original might enjoy revisiting the classic, it’s newcomers, or those hoping for a bit more that will be underwhelmed. A shame, given the narrative holds up to this day.
[Editor’s Note: Tales of Symphonia Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided for review purposes.]