Last September, Tales of Arise landing on PC and consoles has revived interest in Bandai Namco’s long-running action RPG series. So of course mobile games were released to capitalize on this success. That game is Tales of Luminaria, which was officially released today. Unlike the core Tales game that exists as a premium experience, Tales of Luminaria is a free-to-play gacha RPG not too different from Bandai’s other F2P anime games. The graphics are great, but the controls are messy, the UI is terrible, and the endless loading screens make performance pretty bad. So far, Play Store reviews for new Gacha releases are relatively low, but these low scores seem worth it.
The trailer above gives a sneak peek at Tales of Luminaria (if you can see all the 2D art covering the gameplay). Tales of Luminaria may seem like part of it, but when you boot up the game you’ll find that it eats away at your gacha money. The home screen looks more like a landing page in an MMO than an actual splash screen, and you have to go to the Episodes tab from the home screen to dive into some of the gameplay. . You’ll play through chapters of frantic corridors as you battle enemies in turn. The strange thing is that these episodes take a long time to complete. To the point where Bandai actually adds buttons, allowing players to relax without losing progress, it feels like sloppy game design.
You can only play vertically, you cannot rotate the camera. This means the gameplay is very claustrophobic because you don’t know where you’re going. This is exacerbated by the terrible touch controls where the thumbstick and basic attack are present as one button. To say the controls are terrible is an understatement, and while there are some sensitivity settings available, they do little to help.
Performance was not good either. There are loading screens everywhere and they take a long time to load. There are three graphics options in the settings (low, medium and high), but all three are limited to 30 fps for some reason, so they at least look good, but the gameplay doesn’t feel smooth. Since this is a free-to-play release, in-app purchases range from $0.99 – $79.99, with an optional Battle Pass that runs $5 per month for players. I’m sure this will help you get some good drops. At least, these drops are friendly to free players, with a 4% drop rate for the highest tier.
Yes, Tales of Luminaria exists in that strange form of limbo, with plenty of sophistication in terms of graphics and sound work, but the rest of the game feels like a shameless and lazy money grab. Definitely connected. As with most of Bandai Namco’s F2P mobile releases. In other words, forms rather than verbs. Still, the game is free, so there’s no harm in exploring it yourself. Avoid greedy monetization.
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