Still one of the most highly regarded instalments in Namco's long-running series, Tales of Symphonia could be considered a classic. Indeed, it's easy forget that the game's almost 20 years old — and Tales of Symphonia Remastered shows that the adventure actually holds up surprisingly well.
The storytelling's a little ragged, and some gameplay elements — like traversing the world map — have aged poorly, but the main characters remain a fun bunch, the journey itself is always entertaining, and the combat system is solid.
The plot is all about the 'Chosen' — a, er, chosen person who must embark on a pilgrimage to save the world. In this case, the Chosen is a girl named Collette, who just so happens to be the childhood friend of protagonist Lloyd — a reckless young man who stumbles into the role of Collette's guardian as she sets off on her quest. While the overarching story has its cliches, Lloyd and the gang carry the narrative. They're a truly endearing group, and there's great chemistry between them thanks to some sharp and often comedic writing.
Of course, your party members are also key to combat. Symphonia arguably laid the foundations for Tales titles going forward, with its emphasis on combos, quick movement, and diverse fighting styles. By today's standards, it's a relatively basic system — and the controls are perhaps a bit stiff — but battering monsters is still satisfying. There's a really enjoyable flow to fights as you learn to correctly time your attacks, pinning your foes in place with the help of your AI-controlled allies.
Given just how well Symphonia has aged as a whole, it's a shame that this remaster feels so barebones. Aside from an obvious resolution bump, the visual improvements are pretty negligible, with muddy environmental textures and backgrounds betraying an art style that still pops. Even the menus appear to be barely enhanced as text, icons, and character portraits can remain quite blurry. What's more, the game's capped at a disappointing 30 frames-per-second, and the frequent load screens can be just a touch too long — even when you're playing on PS5 through backwards compatibility.
Close to two decades later, Tales of Symphonia Remastered is a reminder of how neatly crafted the original GameCube and PS2 title was. Barring a few rough edges, this is still a great action RPG, full of charm and character. The only real downside is that the remaster itself leaves a lot to be desired.