The latest issue of Weekly Famitsu (released 20 June 2019) includes an interview regarding Tales of Arise, the upcoming entry in Bandai Namco’s Tales RPG series for the PS4, XB1 and PC, with producer Tomizawa Yuusuke, who is currently in charge of both the Tales and God Eater series, as well as the Code Vein project.
Also see: Japanese Games at E3: A Roundup
The interviewer begins with the observation that Arise looks entirely different from previous Tales games, and Tomizawa responds that they contemplated such an impact, and that Arise seeks to not simply carry on series traditions, but also “inherit and evolve”, saying that when carrying out a breakdown of the series’ elements to figure out its charm, they found that due to its history of over 20 years, there are many parts of it that they felt need to evolve in order for the brand to carry on or expand, or attract new and younger players. Taking a different approach was thus necessary, and they decided to head down a different path this time to draw the attention of more people.
Tomizawa says that while fans might have felt worried by the trailer for Arise, he would like to assure them that they did fully discuss the fundamental charm and what elements to inherit, and that elements to evolve or add were based on these discussions.
One such “evolved” element is the change in characters’ body proportions to look more realistic. Tomizawa says that this is part of Arise aiming to have a higher level of immersion than previous games, and that they also improved on characters’ acting and animation as part of this, and that the aim is to have players feel that the characters are really living in the game world.
Having the same person- Iwamoto Minoru in this case- Handle both the character designs and art direction of the game in a flagship title is also a first, and Tomizawa says that this allows for consistency in the game’s art, and he gives how designing the world and clothes allows them to express the world’s cultural level as an example. This is also part of increasing player immersion.
The voice actors for main characters Alphen and Shionne, Satou Takuya and Shimoji Sino, were chosen via audition.
Tomizawa says that Satou’s acting matches Alphen well, and describes Alphen as a character who is older than previous Tales protagonists, more mature and straightforwardly manly. Alphen has no memories and thus does not know who he is himself, and accepted the fate of the people of Dana and lived like a slave. He also cannot feel pain, and thus does not know when he is injured. This means that he can carry on fighting even when attacked, but also means that he might die from injuries he does not realise that he has. This resulted in the people around him making him wear heavy armour.
Alphen’s inability to feel pain is what lets him use his sword of fire, which also has an important position in the story, with him being the only one who can use it being a large driving force for the narrative. But of course Alphen is not invincible, so holding the sword for too long would burn away his hand. How this is linked to the game design, as well as other things like further details on how he is shown pulling the sword out of Shionne’s chest in the trailer and how he has another sword on his back, will be revealed at a later date.
Tomizawa talks about Shionne next. She is inflicted with something called the “curse of thorns” which makes anyone who touches her feel great sharp pain, and as a result she is made a pariah by the people of Rena despite being one of them, and she eventually meets Alphen by chance due to this. Alphen cannot feel pain, and Shionne causes pain, making them equal opposites. The story follows the theme of there being power that only the two of them together can use, in the midst of the strife between the people of Dana and Rena. Shionne uses a gun, and only the people of Rena can do so.
Tomizawa next talks about Shionne’s casting, and says that while he cannot reveal much about her yet, Shionne is a complex character who requires someone with a wide acting ability, and they needed someone who would neither be too feminine nor masculine, and when he heard Shimoji’s acting, he immediately felt that she would be perfect.
Though the E3 trailer did not show any, Tales of Arise will have high quality anime sequences handled by Ufotable, which Tomizawa says should add up to quite a long runtime. Tomizawa says that they are working closer with Ufotable than ever before, and that the anime and 3D sides of Arise are aiming to be the best that they can, with each having the other as a rival.
The interviewer asks about the title, and Tomizawa says that “Arise” was the project’s development codename from the beginning, and that it was born from how they went in wanting to revive the series. Development and publicity staff from around the world later came up with and considered hundreds of potential titles, but everyone felt that Arise, which embodied their resolve, was the most fitting. The title is also linked to the themes in the story, representing the protagonists as they stand up to overturn oppression.
Finally, Tomizawa speaks about the release date, which was previously announced as 2020. He says that while the visuals for the game are completed to some degree, they still require work, and parts like the battles and story sequences are still not complete. He says that fans will have to wait a bit longer, and hopes that they look forward to the game.