It rises from the abyss, but it doesn't rise to glory.
Story: While the story follows the typical RPG format, a hero who has to "discover" himself, a world in danger, and myriad complicated relationships and ideologies, it is convincing and easy to follow. There are times when the game drags on, especially with periods of running back and forth from town to town to get a short dialogue that generally provides very little to the core experience. (7/10)
Voice acting: The voice acting is a mixed bag with about half of the primary cast rendering rather good performances, one character sticks out as exceptional to me, and the other half ranging from annoying to downright rage worthy-the protagonist is among the worst of the lot. There are also a number of skits in the game, but they fall flat without voice acting to carry them. (6/10)
Characters/World: The cast is largely forgettable, only a few really stick out in any sense, but they all compliment each other well and carry the story well enough. The main antagonist is pretty cool, and his minions are well thought out and have varying personalities. The world itself is a little bland, but does allow for open world exploration and has varied locals and towns. (7/10)
Graphics: The graphics aren't atrocious, but they certainly aren't pushing the 3DS's capabilities considering titles like the new Resident Evil. The world has a certain Tales flair to it that is nice to look at, but it is marred by considerably dated graphics. (7/10)
Game length/Replayability: The game is very lengthy, approximately 60-80 hours, probably 40 or so if you stick just to the main story, with long story segments and few save opportunities unless you're on the world map. You'll find save points at the end of lengthy dungeons, before bosses, but it often takes 30 minutes or more to get there. Boss fights can also be quite lengthy. The game touts a new game plus with additional difficulty levels and enhancements you can purchase to enhance subsequent experiences. (10/10)
Gameplay/Optimization: The gameplay is frenetic and fun. The enemy designs are varied and interesting, and boss battles can be epic when playing on higher difficulties. You can outfit your characters, augment their skills, earn and equip titles that add bonuses, and even change costumes later in the game: optimization is a staple of Tales games and the Abyss is no exception. (10/10)
Verdict: While the story can be a bit clichéd, the voice acting is spotty, and characters sometimes lack the general likeability you've experience in other games, the combat is furiously fun, there is a ton of content, and the game makes for a fantastic RPG experience. As far as the 3DS's current library is concerned, this game should be at the top of the list for RPG lovers! (Overall: 7.8/10)