Spending time with the Time Mage.

Cris Tales, from developer Dreams Uncorporated, was easily one of the more intriguing demos I received back at E3 2019. The official website states this “love letter to classic JRPGs” draws its inspiration from games such as Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Valkyrie Profile, Bravely Default, and Persona 5. That should certainly check numerous boxes for fans of turn-based strategy games.

I later interviewed Dreams Uncorporated CEO Carlos Rocha Silva for issue 49 of Pure Nintendo Magazine, and his enthusiasm for Cris Tales (and for JRPGs in general) was as infectious then as it was during that initial presentation from Modus’ booth on the E3 show floor.

This is why I was so eager to try out the recently released Cris Tales demo available from the Nintendo eShop. It’s a short demo—you can download and complete it in about an hour—but I’m more excited than ever about the game’s November 17th release.

Here are some early impressions of my brief experience with Cris Tales:

  • The animated cutscenes don’t look good, mostly due to compression artifacts. I’m hoping that’s just to provide a quick demo download, and that they’ll have more polish in the full release.
  • I point that out only because the artwork throughout the game is gorgeous, otherwise. Finally seeing it on my QLED TV was stunning.
  • The 2D, handcrafted artwork and animation combine to create a very unique and highly colorful/detailed world that should provide visual splendor throughout the adventure. I can hardly wait to visit each of the game’s locations.
  • The demo wastes no time in throwing you into battle, then flashes back to that battle’s setup. It’s a good way to focus your attention throughout the game’s start when you’re basically just chasing around a frog in a top hat.
  • The English voice acting is top-notch across the board. I found none of the characterizations annoying, and at least a couple are quite charming. This includes Crisabel, the game’s protagonist.
  • Although you can move freely about the opening locations, you only get a fixed camera angle and specific areas you can reach.
  • You’re prevented from reaching certain areas until you need to reach them. I’m hoping this translates to the full game, as it’ll prevent a lot of pointless wandering.
  • Cris Tales quickly presents you with its most unique mechanic—the ability to see and move into the past and future. The demo will task you with utilizing this ability to make one important story decision and to win one boss battle.

  • The demo doesn’t go on long enough for you to see how your story decisions will impact the game, but it’s clear that how you decide to alter the future will affect your adventure.
  • The turn-based battle system is familiar (attack, use skills, use an item, etc.) and easy to utilize in the demo. Don’t worry about the game being too simple, however; you can see how combat will evolve to allow more complex strategies in the full game.

  • The UI is very easy to see. You’ll have no problem playing and enjoying Cris Tales in handheld mode.
  • The demo doesn’t indicate that playing it will provide rewards in the full game.

This glimpse into the world of Cris Tales is brief—too brief—but it’s more than enough to indicate we have something extremely unique and compelling ahead of us. Fans of JRPGs and turn-based strategy will definitely want to check it out. But because the demo will take up only an hour of your time, I suggest even those outside the target demographic give it a shot. If you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself marking November 17th on your calendar.

For more information on Cris Tales, and to place a preorder for the game’s physical release, visit modusgames.com/cris-tales/.