Running through a forest in the middle of a thunder storm being chased by an evil witch, the first few minutes of the 45-minute preview video of Tales of Hearts R that Bandai Namco Games kindly provided me with are very dark and gloomy.
At the edge of the forest is a cliff edge, and it is here that siblings Hisui and Kohaku are trapped. With the witch closing in on them from one side, and a raging sea crashing against the rocks below them on the other side they decide that the best option is to jump into the water and escape the grasps of the witch.
This opening cutscene is stunning, with a beautiful hand-drawn anime feel to it, Tales of Heart R looks fantastic. The dialogue is delivered via a Japanese voiceover, with subtitles providing the translation to English.
After the two make their exit via their watery plunge, the game then whisks us off to a woodland area, where we meet a young boy named Kor Meteor who is being taught about and inherits a Soma (a weapon that is created from the strongest people’s souls) from his grandfather Sydan.
It is here that we start to learn the combat basics. Gameplay in Tales of Heart R takes place in fully 3D environments, with beautifully rendered characters. The game’s battle system is free-form, with Kor taking on a jelly-like enemy to learn how to use his newly acquired Soma. Kor’s Soma takes on the form of a sword, and you are taught how to move around the battle area and attack in a very simple tutorial.
Kor Meteor comes from a family of talented Soma-wielders – know as Somatics. Sydan tells Kor that his mother was one of the best Somatics that there was, with Kor wishing that she was still around to see him wield his Soma Sword.
Returning to their home in Seaville Village, Sydan is paid a visit from a neighbour who is begging for him to help his brother’s daughter who has not left her room for days. Although Kor is eager to travel with his grandfather to the next village to help cure the girl, he is told that he must stay in Seaville and look after the house.
Whilst Sydan is away, Kor finds a girl washed up on the beach. Attempting to resuscitate her with a kiss of life, the girl wakes up and accuses Kor of being indecent. After Kor reassures her that he was indeed trying to save her, the girl introduces herself as Kohaku Hearts and tells Kor that she needs to find her brother and Sydan.
After Kor explains who he is and how to find Sydan and his additional Soma, Kohaku joins your party and you set off through Seaville Woods on your quest to Seaville Shrine. What follows is a mixture of ups and downs for Kor and Kohaku. After reuniting with Hisui, the witch returns and attacks both Kohaku and Sydan. Kor and Hisui manage to gather up their fallen relatives and escape back to Seaville Village. Here Kor enters Kohaku’s Spiria and inadvertently shatters her Spiria core (the source of a person’s emotion), with this fragmenting and dispersing across the world.
Hisui is understandably furious with Kor, as without her Spiria core Kohaku is a vacant, emotionless being. Sydan reveals to Kor and Hisui that the many fragments of the Spiria core can be recovered. Hisui is initially reluctant to allow Kor to help him recover his sister’s Spiria, but after saying their goodbyes to Sydan, the duo embark on their quest to rebuild Kohaku’s Spiria Core with Kohaku in tow.
It is here that the video ends, just as our young adventurers set off to take on the mammoth task of finding all the Spiria core pieces. Before watching this preview I must admit I was not too fussed about Tales of Hearts R, especially with it releasing a few weeks after Freedom Wars. But after seeing it in action, with beautiful cutscenes intersecting the gorgeous environments, well animated character models and a story that left me wanting for more as soon as it ended – Tales of Hearts R is definitely a game that is now on my wanted list.
If you are a fan of existing Vita JRPG’s such as Persona 4 Golden or Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remastered you will be in for a treat when Tales of Hearts R releases this November!