Japanese RPGs offer a wide-range of gameplay varieties, but each one contains the expected character and storyline clichés that make a JRPG a JRPG. Arc Rise Fantasia is no different from previous JRPGs and that may be one of the games only strong suits. Despite having the name of Arc Rise Fantasia, everything found will remind RPGs veterans of the ‘Tales of…’ franchise and that’s not an unfounded feeling. Arc Rise Fantasia was designed by members of ‘Tales of…’ series and they have taken everything you have come to expect from that long-running series and translated into a new propriety known to us as Arc Rise Fantasia.
Arc Rise Fantasia offers the basic JRPG experience where you’ll have a predictable story, a world filled with magic, young romance, and a villain keen on taking over the world, ravaging the existence of the current populace and crowing himself as king of this new world order. A good story is one key element of a JRPG, but the story in place here is hard to digest. No matter how many RPGs you have played before it, the storyline here is laughable and it’s only worsened by the abysmal voiceovers. As the story opens itself to you, the more it becomes apparent that the developers either lost where they wanted to take the game’s storyline or they completely abandoned it and just left whatever ideas they had remaining and tied it all together for the game.
To make matters even more horrid, the voiceovers are atrocious. With a poor story and narrative already present, poor voiceovers only make the experience all the more pain inducing. Serious conversations are comical because the line delivery is so poorly conducted. The game would have greatly benefited from a Japanese voice over option with English subtitles. Even if the story been a strong component to the game, the voices would have detracted from it.
When the story of a JRPG is weak and fails to deliver, the last saving grace is the battle system. Arc Rise Fantasia has a fairly complex battle system that will cause mix reactions among players. Every member of your party draws AP (Action Points) from the same collective pool and these points allow you to perform all forms of actions — magic, attacks, and so on. This adds a small sense of strategy to the turn-based RPG combat formula, and gives off a small sense of freedom. You can use one member in battle and leave the rest of your party to wait around, or you can have your whole party defend and build up more AP and unleash a barrage of attacks on your next turn. The battle system’s complexity is further enhanced by having to watch your party members’ individual health and magic. The only thing in battle they share will be the AP, but having to watch AP, HP, and MP can be a bit overwhelming initially.
Now for the biggest fault of the game: normal battles are way too easy. You’ll run into enemies on the map and take care of them without breaking a sweat. Suddenly, you’ll reach a boss and you’ll be feeling good about yourself because nothing has presented much a challenge thus far and then you’ll find yourself beaten in seconds. The battle system is radically unbalanced and this creates a great sense of confusion because you’ll only find out you aren’t strong enough to beat the boss after you get tossed around like a rag-doll.
This, of course, leads to a couple hours of leveling grinding, and then you go back and beat the said boss. Aside from the boss battles, the normal run-of-the-mill enemies are so easy to beat you can virtually just button-mash your way through them. If the game had challenging normal enemies that properly prepared you for the upcoming boss, things would be a lot better. It’s not possible to gauge your strength on weak opponents and then only realize you aren’t strong after you get pummeled by the boss. With such an unbalance system here, battles get boring quickly and feel repetitive.
Arc Rise Fantasia is a tough game to classify. You may outright hate or you may find yourself enjoying it for what it is. However, most will find the boring story, terrible voiceovers, and unbalanced battles to be enough to damper the game experience. Compared to other RPGs, Arc Rise Fantasia falls short and comes off as a mediocre JRPG that could have used more time getting fine tuned and polished.