Tales of the Abyss
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|Tales of the Abyss|
|Developer(s)||Namco Tales Studio|
|Designer(s)||Makoto Yoshizumi (game producer)
Yoshito Higuchi (game director)
Kōsuke Fujishima (character designer)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
(2 - 4 players)
1 3DS Game Card
Tales of the Abyss (テイルズ オブ ジ アビス Teiruzu obu ji Abisu ) is a role-playing video game developed by Namco Tales Studio and published by Namco in Japan and Namco Bandai Games in North America. Tales of the Abyss's characteristic genre name is To Know the Meaning of One's Birth RPG (「生まれた意味を知るRPG」 Umareta Imi wo shiru RPG。). It is the eighth mothership title in the Tales series, and was released for the PlayStation 2 on December 15, 2005 in Japan, celebrating the Tales series' 10th anniversary, and on October 10, 2006 in North America. It features the Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System, which most resembles Tales of Symphonia's. The character designs are by manga artist Kōsuke Fujishima. The game received a port to the Nintendo 3DS on June 30, 2011 in Japan. Later, it was released on February 14, 2012 in North America and in Europe on November 25, 2011.
Battle system 
The game's "Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System" (FR-LMBS) is real-time. The game controls are very similar to other Tales games, especially Tales of Symphonia, except with increased maneuverability. The player can attack, defend, perform a skill or call up a menu with multiple functions, such as using items or commanding an ally to perform an action. This system offers multiplayer co-op battles, and the camera for this mode is improved over the one found in Tales of Symphonia, zooming out as characters move away from each other so that other players are now always on screen. A new feature, "Free Run," allows the player character to run in any direction, unlike previous Tales games.
The game features many skills and spells to unleash upon enemies. Characters can learn "AD Skills," which can be equipped and unequipped at will, to help them in battles. The game features a large number of these skills, acquired through the use of "Capacity Cores" — items that give stat bonuses when a character levels up. Once a certain statistic has a large enough bonus, the AD skill is learned automatically. A new addition to the system is the "Field of Fonons" (often abbreviated as FOF). Whenever a character uses a spell or battle technique that features an elemental alignment, a circle will appear on the ground, corresponding to that element. After being reinforced with more techniques of the same element, the circle will light up in that element's color to signify that an FOF change is available. Finally, if a character stands in the circle and performs a specific skill that corresponds with the FOF circle, the skill will be upgraded into a more powerful version. Enemies can also use and create FOF fields. As with other Tales games, characters can engage in "Over Limit" mode when their green OVL bar is full. This can be filled by completing combos and making critical hits. During Over Limit, characters can use their Mystic Artes (Hi-Ougis), powerful skills that can only be performed when certain conditions are fulfilled. Every character has one standard Mystic Arte, along with an additional hidden one unlockable only on repeat plays. Enemy boss characters have Mystic Artes as well.
Recurring features 
Many recurring features in the Tales series return, such as skits, grade, cooking, and titles.
Skits are short conversations that may be viewed when prompted. During a skit, anime-style faces of the characters taking part in the skit appear and interact with each other. The characters in skits are animated, sometimes shaking, growing larger, or moving across the screen to accentuate what is happening in the skit. Skits can range from dramatic to comedic, and address a wide range of subjects. Some skits are related to the main plot, and some can only be obtained through optional side events. Unlike the Japanese version, the skits in the English version are not voiced.
"Grade" is awarded after each battle, either raising or lowering the player's total number of points depending on how the battle was played. For example, defeating the enemies within a short period or time or getting a large combo will increase the grade awarded; characters being killed or having negative status effects on them will lower the grade acquired. At the end of the game, players can purchase bonuses for the next playthrough.
Abyss also features a cooking system. The player collects recipes and ingredients throughout the game, and can use them to cook either after battles or between battles. Unlike Tales of Symphonia, up to four different recipes can be set to the control pad for use after battle. Different recipes require different items and have different effects. The player can increase characters' cooking stats for each recipe by having them cook the recipe frequently.
Abyss features titles which each character gains through a series of tasks or events. Titles have various effects, some of which are stat-related. In the tradition of newer Tales games, some of these titles also change costumes. Each character has unique costumes; to acquire additional costumes, the player must accomplish certain tasks. Unlike some other Tales games, every title in Tales of the Abyss carries a special effect, varying from discounts in shops to recovering small amounts of HP periodically.
Sorcerer's ring 
The sorcerer's ring in Tales of the Abyss is an item that Mieu wears around his waist, and can be upgraded by the power of concentrated Fonons in certain dungeons to perform different helpful actions. These include Mieu Fire, where Mieu blows a ball of fire straight forward, used to activate switches and solve various puzzles; Mieu Attack, where Mieu is propelled forward to break objects and hit switches; and Mieu Wings, where Mieu flaps his ears and lifts the player characters into the air, useful for reaching high platforms and ladders.
Game's economy 
Various plot events alter the game's economy, changing prices and item availability in shops; for instance, a shortage in the farming town of Engeve causes food prices to skyrocket, while the outbreak of war leads to a high variety equipment being sold at premium rates—and, consequently, higher profits when selling old gear. Furthermore, the player's actions may alter the prices or even the availability of items available for sale.[clarification needed]
North American PS2 exclusives 
The North American version of Tales of the Abyss received extra features that are not present in the Japanese version. Guy, Natalia, Van and others gained new Mystic Artes. In addition to receiving a new Mystic Arte herself, Nebilim also gained the use of some of the playable characters' Mystic Artes. Luke and Tear also received new Mystic Arte extensions. Although it is not an "extra feature", the Unknown difficulty for the North American release was modified to be a bit easier for players, with enemy stats multiplied by 3.5 rather than the original x4 in the Japanese version. These additions and alterations were carried over to the game's Nintendo 3DS port.
Tales of the Abyss takes place on Auldrant, a planet composed of elementary particles called Fonons (フォニム Fonimu , Fonim in the Japanese version). For much of Auldrant's history, only six fonons were known to exist, representing the elements of Shadow, Earth, Wind, Water, Fire and Light; but eventually a seventh fonon, controlling Sound, is discovered. Its discovery brings great chaos: using this newest Seventh Fonon allows one to read the future. One such Seventh Fonist, Yulia Jue, an important religious figure in the game, puts in place a future for the world for thousands of years to come, with the promise of unlimited prosperity at its end. This prophecy of the future's set path becomes known as the "Score" and is documented on "Fonstones" scattered throughout the world. The nations of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and Malkuth have fought over the fragments of these tablets for generations, each uncovering them and hoping to discover the future before the other. Meanwhile, a holy order emerges dedicated to the reading of the Score and the keeping of the peace. This "Order of Lorelei" is headed by a Fon Master and maintains both religious/political and military branches. Finally, the Score and its promise of prosperity lead to a dangerous complacency within the general population of Auldrant; the slaughter of an entire people living on the island of Hod and the destruction of that landmass are countenanced because it was predicted in the Score.
Luke Fon Fabre, the young son of Duke Fabre of the Kimlasca Kingdom is the Light of the Sacred Flame, the scion of Lorelei's power, destined to bring prosperity to Kimlasca. Since being kidnapped seven years ago by the Malkuth Empire, he has been kept confined to the Fabre family mansion. The shock of the kidnapping has erased all of Luke's memories prior to the event. One fateful day, a mysterious woman breaks into the mansion and sets off a chain of events that drag Luke into the center of a massive conflict between those who would do anything to see the Score carried out, and those who would see it broken forever.
The game opens with Yulia Jue giving her reading of the Score, more specifically the significance of the birth of "the light of the sacred flame" (Luke). As Yulia ends her reading, the game is sent to the year ND2018, with Luke fon Fabre standing in his room, gazing up at the fonstones in the sky. As he turns to leave his room, he suddenly gets a headache, and with it, hears a mysterious voice. He had been getting these headaches since he was kidnapped seven years ago. His childhood memories were completely erased (at the time it was assumed to be amnesia) and he has had headaches ever since.
Playable characters 
- Luke fon Fabre
- The main protagonist of the game, Luke is 17 and is the only son of a noble family in the kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear. After being kidnapped at ten years of age, Luke lost all of his childhood memories, and upon being returned home was confined to the safety of the Fon Fabre manor. His isolation from the rest of the world leads him to become a rather immature, selfish kind of person with next to no knowledge of the world. His only hobby is swordsmanship. Luke also possesses the ability to create a "hyperresonance" on his own, an extremely powerful ability when two fonists of the same type use their abilities in tandem. Later in the game he develops feelings for Tear and once tried to tell her his feelings, but failed. As the game progresses, Luke learns that he is actually an isofonically identical "replica" of Asch, the real Luke fon Fabre, and as such is also a perfect isofon of the Seventh Fonon itself. This event, along with the abandonment of his friends, prompts Luke to change himself for the better, cutting his hair as a symbol of his resolve. He also asks Tear to look after him and to watch over him. Luke's name means "Light of the Sacred Flame" in Ancient Ispanian. His Japanese voice actor is Chihiro Suzuki while his English voice actor is Yuri Lowenthal.
- Tear Grants
- Tear, full name Mystearica Aura Fende, is 16 and is a Locrian Sergeant of the Order of Lorelei in the Intelligence Division and is the sister of the primary antagonist Van. She is extremely disciplined and feels compelled to be a soldier at all times, though she is sometimes unable to repress her feminine side which is often expressed in her interest in cute things. She is also a descendant of Yulia and can sing Yulia's Fonic Hymns. She eventually falls in love with Luke, and confesses her feelings to him at the end of the game. Her Japanese voice actress is Yukana, while her English voice actress is Nicole Karrer.
- Jade Curtiss
- Jade, formerly known as Dr. Jade Balfour, is a 35 year old colonel of the Third Division of Malkuth's Imperial forces. Jade is sarcastic, pessimistic, honest and logical. He is the creator of fomicry, a field of science that focuses on the creation of "replicas"; and earned the nickname "Jade the Necromancer" because of his former habit of extracting replica data from fallen soldiers on battlefields for experimental purposes. He is often tight-lipped when the subject of fomicry comes up. He is also very knowledgeable about fonic artes and has mastered the manipulation of all fonons but the Seventh, with which he has no proficiency. His younger sister and only living family member (presumably) is Nephry Osborne, the Governor of Keterburg. He is a close personal friend of Emperor Peony Upala Malkuth IX, and the former childhood friend of Dr. Saphir Ortion Gneiss, now Dist the Reaper (who he has since come to more or less despise) He was born in the city of Keterberg, the silvery town. His Japanese voice actor is Takehito Koyasu and his English voice actor is Kirk Thornton.
- Anise Tatlin
- Anise, 13, is the guardian of Fon Master Ion, the highest official in the Order of Lorelei. She is a bright and cheerful little girl, but can sometimes show a darker side when provoked, and often hides her emotions when she is suffering. Because of her family's bad financial situation, she seeks to marry into money and as a running gag displays an interest in any possible way to obtain it. As a puppeteer, she can make her stuffed toy, Tokunaga grow to gigantic proportions and attack enemies. It was also revealed that she was spying for Mohs to pay off a debt that her parents owed him. Her Japanese voice actress is Haruko Momoi and her English voice actress is Jolie Jackson. Initially there was confusion over her English actress, but according to Melissa Fahn herself, Jackson is often mistaken for Fahn due to the similarity of their voices.
- Guy Cecil
- Guy is a swordsman in service to House Fabre. He is very loyal and brotherly towards Luke, and considers himself somewhat responsible for Luke's spoiled and selfish personality. Having more or less brought Luke up from a young age, he is usually the first person Luke turns to when in need of advice or guidance, and often ends up apologizing for Luke's shortcomings. It is revealed that due to repressed trauma, he is morbidly afraid of any physical contact with women. It is also later revealed that he was originally from Hod, and hence a citizen of the Malkuth Empire, that his real name is Gailardia Galan Gardios, and that Van Grants was his attendant as a child. He specializes in Sigmund style swordsmanship, a school unique to Hod, and has a great interest in Fon Machines. His Japanese voice actor is Yasunori Matsumoto and his English voice actor is Johnny Yong Bosch.
- Natalia Luzu Kimlasca-Lanvaldear
- Natalia is the princess of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear who fully believes that the function of nobility is to tend to the needs of their subjects. She is 18 and is loved by her people for her various public works projects. As Luke's fiancée, she scolds him for his spoiled attitude and his dismissal of his duties as a noble. As the game progresses, it is revealed that Natalia is not the birth princess of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear — the true princess was stillborn and was replaced with the midwife's daughter's newborn child. Natalia is initially branded a traitor to the kingdom through the machinations of Grand Maestro Mohs and is sentenced to death, but her people rally behind her. Eventually, her father realizes that even though they are not related by blood, Natalia is still his daughter. Natalia is dismayed to later learn that her biological father is Largo the Black Lion of the God-Generals. Her original name was Meryl. Upon finding out that Luke is in actuality a replica of Asch, she becomes conflicted about her affection towards him and appears to transfer most of them back to Asch, who works very hard to alienate her by unconvincingly insisting that their past together retained no meaning. His efforts to help Luke's party - and her exclusively on a few occasions - fail to dissuade her. Her Japanese voice actress is Michiko Neya and her English voice actress is Stephanie Sheh.
Non-playable characters 
- Fon Master Ion
- The party of playable characters is accompanied by Fon Master Ion, the leader of the Order of Lorelei, a neutral theocracy trying to calm the power struggle between Malkuth and Kimlasca-Lanvaldear. Though he is not a playable character, he accompanies Luke's party for most of the game. He is calm in most situations, and can utilize Daathic fonic artes, break Daathic seals, and read the Score from fonstones, all of which can easily tire him out. However, Ion is somewhat of a playable character, as he is one of Luke's Mystic Artes during the first half of the game (up to the point of his death). Later in the story, it is revealed that he is the 7th replica of the original Ion, who is, according to the story, had died of an incurable disease some time before the events of the game began. The replica Ion dies when Mohs drives him to read the Seventh Fonstone. His Japanese voice actor was Ikue Ōtani (Yumiko Kobayashi in the anime) and his English voice actor is Erin Fitzgerald.
- Mieu is a small blue mammalian called a cheagle. He joins Luke's group when the elder cheagle exiles him for setting fire to the forest where ligers live, which causes the ligers to hunt the cheagles for food. Since Luke saved Mieu's life, the elder orders him to serve Luke for the time of one year (Luke isn't too happy about that). Cheagles are considered sacred by the Order of Lorelei due to a pact formed with Yulia Jue, symbolized by the Sorcerer's Ring. The ring enables cheagles to communicate with others, as well as use the power of various fonons to gain new skills. His Japanese voice actress is Miki Maruyama and his English voice actress is Sandy Fox.
- Van Grants
- Van Grants, full name Vandesdelca Musto Fende, is the main antagonist of the game, Luke's teacher and Tear's older brother. He leads both the Six God-Generals and the Order of Lorelei's main army. He was originally the servant of House Gardios until the island of Hod was destroyed. When Van learns that Hod's destruction was in the Score, and that the prediction had been kept secret, he begins to hate the Score and decides that a world with the Score must be destroyed, especially since he learns that score ultimately predicts Auldrant's destruction. Van soon discovers that replicas are born outside the Score's control and decides to make a world created entirely from replicated people and landscape, at the sacrifice of the original world and population. Van's most powerful subordinates are the Six God-Generals. According to Lorelei, Van's real name, Vandesdelca, means "One Who Would Seize Glory" in Ancient Ispanian. His Japanese voice actor is George Nakata while his English voice actor was Michael McConnohie.
- Grand Maestro Mohs
- The leader of the Maestros of the Order of Lorelei who is obsessed with fulfilling the Score. He attempts to start war between Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and Malkuth multiple times to fulfill the Score, and forces Ion to read the Seventh Fonstone at the cost of Ion's life. He later uses Dist's power to make him Fon Master, at the cost of turning him into a hideous monster, and starts the "New Order of Lorelei", obsessed with keeping the Score. He eventually goes insane after finding that the score foretold Auldrant's destruction, and Luke's group is forced to kill him once and for all. His English voice actor is Terrence Stone.
God Generals 
- Asch the Bloody
- One of the Six God-Generals, Asch is the original Luke fon Fabre and the second perfect isofon of the Seventh Fonon. After being kidnapped by Van, he is replaced by a replica while he joins the Oracle Knights under the alias "Asch", which he himself defines as "the remnants of the Sacred Flame" in reference to his belief that he was stripped of his original identity. Because of this, he harbors an intense hatred for Luke. Asch assaults Luke several times throughout the game, but cooperates with Luke's party in the latter half of the storyline, during which the player has the opportunity to control him in Luke's stead. Asch mostly prefers working alone, though he does contract the help of a band of thieves known as the Dark Wings. He's extremely short tempered and verbally abusive, especially towards Luke, who he frequently refers to as "dreck". He also has romantic feelings for Natalia, though he never admits it. He later dies fighting a large number of Van's Oracle soldiers in Eldrant. His voice actor in Japanese is Chihiro Suzuki and his English voice actor is Yuri Lowenthal.
- Legretta the Quick
- One of the Six God-Generals, Legretta was once Tear's instructor and formed a sisterly bond with her. She wields a pair of guns and is a brilliant strategist. She remains loyal to Van until the bitter end, and it later revealed to be in love with him (in spite of the fact that he killed her brother as predicted by the Score). In Legretta's final letter to Tear stating her motivations, she signs the letter with her true name, Giselle Oslo, and asks that Tear follow her own ideals and be happy rather than trying to live up to Legretta's example. Her voice actress in Japanese is Miki Itou and her English voice actress is Cindy Robinson.
- Arietta the Wild
- One of the Six God-Generals, Arietta is a timid girl who was raised by ligers after losing her parents to the Hod war. She controls monsters and animals which aid her in battle and wishes to take revenge on Luke's party for killing the liger queen that raised her. She resents Anise for taking her place as Fon Master Guardian, unknowing that the original Ion whom she had fallen in love with had passed away and was replaced with the Ion that Anise was assigned to. It is revealed by Largo that Van deliberately refrained from informing her of the real Ion's death since it was believed that she would kill herself if she knew. She is killed during a duel with Anise after Ion sacrifices himself by using up too much of his strength while reading the Hidden Score. Her voice actress in Japanese is Satsuki Yukino and her English voice actress is Kate Higgins.
- Dist the Reaper
- One of the Six God-Generals, Dist, formerly known as Dr. Saphir Ortion Gneiss (Dr. Saphir Wyon Gneiss in the Japanese version), is a socially awkward Fon machine specialist. He is often found seated in a flying chair, and throws a fit when he feels ignored (mostly by his fellow God-Generals) or is teased (mostly by Jade). Dist shared his childhood with Jade, and considers him both his rival and his closest friend. He prefers being called "Dist the Rose", and shows a bent for showmanship that goes largely unappreciated. In a contrast to the other God-Generals, he's very comical, though he's still a twisted individual that performs various experiments that disgust even Jade. His voice actor in Japanese is Kazuki Yao while his English voice is provided by Liam O'Brien.
- Sync the Tempest
- One of the Six God-Generals, Sync is a martial artist as well as the strategist for the Six God-Generals' missions. Because he is a replica of the original Fon Master Ion, he wears a mask to conceal his identity. Sync resents his existence because he was considered a failed replica (saying he was "born a piece of meat") and considers himself an empty vessel for Van's will, blaming the Score for what he considers his pathetic existence. He can perform Daathic Fonic Artes, though he has only a fraction of the ability of even the replica Ion. His Japanese voice actor is Ikue Otani and his English voice is provided by Erin Fitzgerald.
- Largo the Black Lion
- Largo is the oldest member of the Six God-Generals and leader of the Oracle Knights' shock troops. Formerly known as Badaq, he is Natalia's biological father. Before becoming a member of the Oracle Knights, he was a mercenary for hire who chiefly took jobs providing security to travelling merchants. Because of the Score, his wife Sylvia was encouraged to give birth despite her weak health and her daughter was taken to replace the stillborn Kimlascan princess. The loss of her child pitched Sylvia into a deep depression, leading her to commit suicide before Badaq could return to Baticul after being contracted for an escort job. Having lost both his wife and child, Largo wandered until he met Van. Agreeing with Van's plan to destroy the Score, he cast aside his old life as mercenary and even abandoned his daughter. His Japanese voice actor is Tesshō Genda while his English voice is provided by Jamieson Price.
Nintendo 3DS port 
In September 2010, it was revealed at a Nintendo press conference that a port of the game would be coming to the Nintendo 3DS, with a planned release in 2011. The port made use of the 3D and dual screen capabilities of the system, has new artwork designed by Kousuke Fujishima, and has a recolored logo, similar to the recoloring of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Vesperia's logos for their respective PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 ports. On April 5, 2011, Namco Bandai announced that the 3DS port for Japan had been delayed, but that more release information would be released when available. On April 27, 2011, magazine Nintendo Power had confirmed that the 3DS port would be making its way to North America. The game has been released in Europe for the first time as well. The PAL version for Australia has been discontinued.
Tales of the Abyss's soundtrack was mostly composed by Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura, though a few songs were also composed by Motoo Fujiwara, the lead vocalist of the Japanese band Bump of Chicken. The songs composed by him are on the album "Song for Tales of the Abyss". Bump of Chicken also performed the game's opening song, Karma. Different versions of the song are used throughout the game. Tear's Grand Fonic Hymns that she frequently sings, Fuka, are sung by Yukana.
Like past localizations of Tales games, the opening song was replaced by another track. Instead of a completely different song, however, the game uses a new instrumental version of Karma.
An animated TV adaptation of Tales of the Abyss, produced by Bandai Visual, Namco, and Sunrise Animation Studios, began airing on October 4, 2008, and ended its run on March 28, 2009. The show ran for twenty-six episodes. The game's theme song, "Karma" by Bump of Chicken, was reused as the opening theme; as well, most of the voice actors from the game returned to voice the same roles.
On July 22, 2010, Anime News Network announced that the North American anime distributor Bandai Entertainment acquired the licence to the Tales of the Abyss anime. Originally set to release on July 7, 2011, it was later delayed to October 11, 2011 
Three manga adaptations of the Tales of the Abyss game have been created and released in Japan. The first, which is simply named Tales of the Abyss and is written and illustrated by Rei was serialized in Dengeki Maoh. The second, Tales of the Abyss: Asch The Bloody, written by Rin Nijō and illustrated Hana Saitō ran in the official Tales of Magazine.
A third manga adaptation, Tales of the Abyss: Jade in My Memories (Tales of the Abyss -Tsuioku no Jade-) is being written by newer artist Ayumi Kano and will be a side story piece focusing on character Jade Curtiss' background. The first chapter premiered in Asuka magazine's April 24, 2009 issue.
The game has been praised for its diverse cast with IGN particularly placing attention on the game's protagonist and his ensuing character development. Others likewise praised the game's dialogue and cut-scene direction, although some questioned both the overabundance of "skits" which popped up from time to time as well as the localization team's decision to omit the voice-acting that accompanied the skits in the Japanese version.
Most reviewers praised the battle system, stating that it was an improvement from earlier Tales installments while at the same time noting that it often devolved into "mindless button mashing". The graphics have received mixed attention. In particular, 1UP.com felt that they were "rough around the edges" and GameSpot pointed out a drop in frame-rate on the world map, along with a generic mix of RPG locales.
In its first year in Japan, Tales of the Abyss sold 440,225 copies.
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- "Tales of Innocence DS Scores High, Gets High Price". Gemaga.com. 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
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- Official PlayStation 2 version website (Japanese)
- Official US PlayStation 2 version website
- Official Nintendo 3DS version website (Japanese)
- Official Bandai channel Tales of the Abyss website (Japanese)
- Official Tokyo MX TV Tales of the Abyss anime website (Japanese)
- Official MBS Tales of the Abyss anime website (Japanese)
- Tales of the Abyss at PlayStation.com
- Tales of the Abyss (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia