Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology - Staff Review  

Descent into Mythology and Madness
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
20-40 Hours
+ Tales cameos
+ Visible equipment changes
+ Decent voice acting
- Back to level 1 for new classes
- Repetitive
- More questing than story
Click here for scoring definitions 

   As a series gets popular and grows in both number of games and fans, many things happen. Most importantly is that as fans become more loyal, developers are more than willing to take their money. Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology for the PlayStation Portable is a good example of this in action. Radiant Mythology is a side game in the Tales universe that features an original story set amongst existing characters from the Tales series. How does all of that add up? The quick answer is that it doesn't.

   The story of Radiant Mythology takes place on the world of Terresia as it is coming under attack by a mysterious entity known as a devourer. In an effort to stop the devourer, Terresia's World Tree births a descender to protect the planet. This descender, who serves as the protagonist of Radiant Mythology, soon encounters a cute flying creature named Mormo who claims to be a descender from an already destroyed world. At this point, a girl screams in the distance and the duo rush off to her rescue. After saving the amnesic girl Kanonno, the main character and Mormo join at the hip in an effort to save Terresia through a series of pointless fetch quests and Tales cameos.

   Players control Terresia's descender and are required to name the character, pick a gender, and select a starting class. The four starting classes consist of the aptly named Warrior, Thief, Mage, and Priest. More classes become available throughout the game, but require starting over at level one for each job. Thankfully, prior class progress is maintained, so nothing is lost forever. This just makes leveling a new class more of a chore, grinding back through the same areas over and over.

   Sadly, grinding and repetition are a recurring theme of Radiant Mythology. The story progresses through completion of missions used to build fame. Once the player's fame is high enough, they are able to access the next quest in the storyline. This pattern is followed all the way through the game's completion with the only change being that the distance between story missions seems to increase exponentially as the game goes on. There is very little character development and most of the character interaction comes from meeting and working with characters from prior Tales games. These classic Tales skit interactions are fairly entertaining and offer players a glimpse look into the existing characters' history. For fans of the series familiar with these characters, it will offer some nostalgia, but sadly it adds nothing to the story in this game.

Own Tales Create Your Own Tales

   Combat in Tales of the World varies depending on the main character's class. Players controlling melee fighters will have little trouble starting out, as battles can easily be won by pressing the attack button as fast as possible and using skills, though in most basic fights they are not even needed. At the start, mages might have a bit more difficulty due to reliance on party members' AI, which though adjustable, is quite lacking. Radiant Mythology's battle system is referred to as the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System, as seen in Tales of the Abyss. While the combat system offers a variety of classes and a wide selection of skills for each, the game still lacks in variety. Party members can consist of a select few of the classic Tales characters or from a stock of generic characters. All of these characters have their own job class from the main selection and therefore skills that are tied to that job. This means that even the cameo Tales characters are not really much different than the generic characters. This just leaves the combat feeling bland and lacking the unique Tales flavor and party variety.

   Radiant Mythology is very similar to other recent Tales games in some aspects, but without the heart those games possess. Like Abyss, encounters are not random as players will find creatures roaming around the dungeons. If the main character can outmaneuver the creatures, battle can be avoided. Crafting is another key element to the game, as it not only helps to create items, but helps to upgrade equipment, and is even used to complete certain quests. One thing that is different from other games in the series is viewing of equipment changes, on the main character at least. Since the protagonist in Radiant Mythology is user-created, more liberties are available in terms of viewing equipment changes as they are not tied to a specific costume design. Not only are basic armor and weapon options available, but specialty items such as swimsuits, ogre heads, and bunny outfits are obtainable as well. This feature is one of the more appealing aspects of the game.

Dress Fight Unlocked character class: Maid

   In terms of presentation, Tales of the World is not very impressive. Worlds as a whole are bright and detailed, but cannot be explored as they are merely a means of managing travel between zones. Dungeons and towns are all bland and lifeless, offering little variety in dungeons and hardly any exploration in towns. There is little to no enemy variety either, and the game's generic characters are not seen outside of combat, so their interesting costume choices, such as wearing wigs, are wasted. A good number of the game's skits are voice acted, and most of that is handled sufficiently. The music is decent as well, but it is filler for the most part. As with everything else with this title, there is lots of repetition due to a lack of variety.

   The balance in difficulty for Radiant Mythology is a constant up and down between simple standard combat and challenging boss fights. Standard combat never truly prepares the player for the challenge found in the boss fights, and those who have little experience with the Tales series might easily find themselves frustrated. For most of the game though, it is all about grinding and more grinding, either in dungeons for levels or via quests for fame. It gets old really quickly and the true challenge comes in actually plodding along to the next story point.

   While Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is not the first Tales spin-off ever created, it is the first to make it to North America. It is a very shallow game with many repetitive elements throughout. All in all, this is a cheap attempt at fan service that does little in the way of being either adventurous or accessible. For those looking to jump into the Tales series for the first time, please do not jump in here. It would be difficult to recommend this to even fans of the Tales series, as it really offers nothing that they haven't played before. If RPGamers are looking for a mindless, dungeon-exploring, grindfest with little bits of story sprinkled here and there, there are likely better games out there than Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology.

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