A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Sequels can be hit or miss most of the time, and when it comes to JRPG sequels there are often more misses than hits. Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the direct sequel to Tales of Symphonia, came out on Wii five years after its predecessor and was met with mediocre and average reviews. It is also widely regarded as the worst Tales game in the series by most fans, while its predecessor is regarded as one of the best. I really liked the first game when I had chance to review it earlier this year when it was re-released as part of the PlayStation 3 Tales of Symphonia Chronicles compilation. The collection includes HD versions of both games. I was very reluctant to play the sequel because of all of the bad things I’ve heard. After three months I finally did, and boy was I surprised by what I found.
(Minor spoilers for Tales of Symphonia ahead)
First of all, you don’t need to play the first game to understand what is going on in this one; it fills you in on all of the details as you play. Dawn of the New World takes place a few years after the events of Tales of Symphonia. A war is taking place between the Church of Martel and the Vanguard. The city of Palmacosta is caught in the middle and is wiped off the map in an event known as the Blood Purge. One of the only survivors is a boy named Emil Castagnier, who you will play as. What’s strange about this event is that it was led by the hero from Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd Irving. This plays a huge role in the rest of the plot because Emil is furious at Lloyd for destroying his city and killing his parents. Why would the savior of the world do something like that? That’s a question that the game refrains from answering until about ¾ of the way through with the game. It really kept me interested and made me continue playing so that I could figure it out.
The rest of the story is about the girl that Emil journeys with and her forehead; yes, her forehead. The girl’s name is Marta and she is a former Vanguard member on the run trying to protect Ratatosk’s core (which has implanted itself in her forehead). Ratatosk is the ruler of monsters, and the Vanguard hopes to acquire the core in order to regain their former glory and take over the world by controlling the monsters. There are other secrets related to Ratatosk’s core, which I won’t spoil for you, that are as mysterious as why Lloyd destroyed a city. I’ll just say that Dawn of the New World’s story was much more exciting than I was made to believe, and it was much stronger than its predecessor.
Graphically, Dawn of the New World was a little better than what you would expect from a 2008 Wii game. The HD version for this collection looks similar to how Tales of Graces f looked when it was released in 2012 for PlayStation 3 (which was also an HD version of a Wii game); however, it’s not quite as pretty. That being said, it still looks great and shouldn’t turn anyone off if they are sticklers about graphics.
One thing I like to point out about JRPGs is whether or not they have a good soundtrack. I am very happy to say that Dawn of the New World’s soundtrack was beautifully done. Again, it reminded me a lot of Tales of Graces f, which is a VERY GOOD thing.
Just about everything pertaining to the gameplay is similar to that of its predecessor Tales of Symphonia, so if you are interested in the basics, go check out the review here. While there are tons of similar gameplay features between Tales of Symphonia and Dawn of the New World, the overworld and battle systems have been completely overhauled.
Rather than having an overworld that you can explore outside of towns, Dawn of the New World simply has a map that you use to travel. In order to get from one place to the next, you click on the next city or dungeon you want to go to and it automatically takes you there. I absolutely loved this because the overworld in Symphonia was very bland and it took entirely too long to get from place to place.
The biggest change to the battle system is the ability to capture creatures to use in your party, level them up, and evolve them to stronger creatures. It is a very Pokémon-like addition to the traditional Tales battle system. I think this was a great move by the Tales team because it added a whole new mini-game like feature. I loved raising creatures and evolving them. This system goes even deeper because each creature (and human) has an elemental type. The only problem with the creature capture system is that it is a little complicated to learn, but after you finally figure it out it becomes a breeze.
The Verdict: 8.3 out of 10
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has been wrongly criticized by Tales fans around the world. It is a great entry to the Tales series. The story was much better than the first game, as it added a whole new level of mystery to keep you playing. The graphics were more on par with what a game should look like these days and the soundtrack was magnificent. The gameplay was streamlined in some places, but much more advanced in others. These additions made Dawn of the New World a unique entry in the Tales series and I am thankful for them. It was a breath of fresh air in a series that likes to stick to its roots. If you are a fan of JRPGs, you need to play this collection, and you especially need to play this game.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.