Tales of Endings

I finished Tales of Arise the other day. Like, really, really finished. It’s not technically 100%ed, but I got the platinum trophy and have no interest in tracking down the last couple of items and treasure boxes that I missed somewhere.

But I don’t bring this up because I want to give the game a post-mortem review. No, it’s actually because I felt something unusual once that platinum trophy popped. I felt a sudden emptiness in my chest, my victory cut with a sense of loss.

I know this feeling well, I’ve had it many times before. It’s the feeling I get when a TV series that I’ve been really into comes to an end. That feeling of loss when you know that your time with these characters and their world has come to an end. Like when you’re saying goodbye to friends. Maybe it’s a little bit weird, but I think it’s mostly a testament to how well-written characters can really worm their way into your heart.

The thing is, I’ve never had this feeling at the end of a video game before. I spent just under 80 hours with Tales of Arise, which is above average in general, but a far cry from the hours logged in any given Xenoblade Chronicles game. While rounding up those last few trophies, I even thought I was ready to be done with Tales of Arise, but then it happened and… I don’t know. Maybe I really did get that attached to Alphen and his motley crew? They’re a lot more three-dimensional than most video game characters, but not quite at the level of a really good TV show. I think it was the 300+ skits that did the trick, as they gave so much extra insight into the characters and their relationships with each other.

Contrast this with Ys: Memories of Celceta, which I played through earlier this year. That was also an excellent game with really likeable characters, which I plowed through obsessively and earned a platinum trophy for. Only when the plat for Memories of Celceta popped, I dusted my hands and deleted the game from my PS5 immediately. When I finished Tales of Arise, I sat there with the game still running for five minutes, struggling to accept that it was truly over. Days later, I still haven’t deleted the game from my console. I have no intention of buying any of the currently available or upcoming DLC to extend the game’s life, and I’m not planning on starting up a new game+, but I’m still not quite ready to let it go.

So maybe that was sort of a roundabout review of Tales of Arise after all, New Games Journalism-style. So good you’ll be sad that it ends!

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