Though we just had a peek at Namco's upcoming Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology for the PSP, we had to spend some more time with it to get our cooking on. The game offers an engaging, somewhat streamlined RPG experience that is shaping up to be a good fit for the PSP. We dove a little deeper into a near final build of the game to see just what all there is to discover.
Once we got through the standard story stuff and made our character, we started picking up quests at the local guild. Though the action in the game is pretty basic as far as Tales games go, the crafting system is still in full effect and as addictive as it ever was. The process of crafting items, cooking, and enhancing your gear works well and should be familiar to longtime fans. The system might be a bit daunting at first to newcomers, but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it--at which point you'll be foraging for raw materials to level your skills and make cool stuff.
Aside from crafting, the relationship system in the game--another element from the Tales series being tapped for Radiant Mythology--is amusing and very "Japanese RPG." The various potential party members you'll meet in the game will all have very distinct opinions of you, not all of which are positive, requiring you to find ways to get in their good graces. Once folks take a shine to you, they'll be open to grouping with you for quests, which is essential as you pick up tougher guild quests. You'll pick up quests individually, which keeps your chores from getting too overwhelming. An in-game journal also helps you keep up on what you're doing, which makes it easy to play the game in short bursts if you choose.
The visuals in Radiant Mythology are clean and sport that almost-as-good-as-PS2 sheen that the better PSP games have. Your custom character model features clean detail, as do all the characters you'll interact with. The environments we played through offered a solid amount of variety, although the areas outside of town were heavy on the dungeon theme. Spell effects and the like were handled nicely. As with all the Tales games, Radiant Mythology features some sharp anime cutscenes and nicely done 2D character portraits for conversations. Audio in the game is the standard mix we've heard in the previous Tales games. You'll get English voice, assorted sound effects, and the obligatory rad guitar music that somehow suits anime footage of flying cats.
Based on our time with the game, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology is shaping up to be a cool entry in the Tales series and a much needed dose of role-playing in the PSP library. Tales fans should appreciate all the familiar faces while newcomers looking for an accessible RPG should be pleased by the game's flexible gameplay systems. Given the drought of strong titles on the PSP right now, folks hungering for a tasty offering should keep an eye out for Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology when it ships next month.