Tales of the Abyss

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Into this world sustained by the Score, a stone has been thrown. The ripples will soon try to instigate a gigantic change.

The eighth mothership title in Namco's Tales (series), and its tenth anniversary title. It was released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, and in North America (but not Europe) in 2006.

Thousands of years ago in the fantasy world of Auldrant, the Songstress Yulia Jue used her powers to read the memories of the planet itself. She detailed her findings in a vast prophecy known as the Score, which promised unlimited prosperity and wealth for the entire world at the end. In the centuries since then, two great nations known as the Kingdom of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear and the Malkuth Empire have fought over the scattered Fonstones upon which the Score is written. Between them lies the Order of Lorelei, a religious order dedicated to the safekeeping of the Score, who act as a neutral arbitrator.

Tales of the Abyss follows the adventures of Idiot Hero, Jerkass and White Prince Luke fon Fabre, a Kimlascan noble who has never been allowed outside of his manor since he was kidnapped from his vacation home seven years previously. Due to the trauma from this incident, he developed retrograde amnesia concerning his entire existence, and had to be taught everything again from scratch, even basic skills like how to walk.

His mundane existence changes dramatically when mysterious White Mage Tear Grants breaks into Luke's manor with the aim of killing his swordmaster, her brother Van Grants. Upon touching Luke, she and Luke are accidentally teleported halfway around the world, landing right in the middle of Malkuth. Together, they try to return Luke home while gradually unravelling the secrets behind his status as The Chosen One of legend.

In true Tales (series) fashion, it doesn't take long for the first game-changing plot twist to hit.

The game has an Animated Adaptation produced by Sunrise. The first episode aired on October 3, 2008 on TOKYO MX; in addition, another channel had an hour long special the following day, showing both the first and second episode. The anime adaptation is apparently stated to be released this October 11, 2011 by Bandai Entertainment in North America. The anime is released sub-only even though the video game has an English dub.

The game was originally released for the PlayStation 2, and a port for the Nintendo 3DS was released internationally. It was released in Europe on November 25th, 2011, marking the first time the Old Continent gets to officially play it. The 3DS version was released in North America on February 14th, 2012.


Tropes used in Tales of the Abyss include:
  • The Abridged Series: Of the anime.
  • Action Girl: Tear, Natalia, and Anise.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plothole: The anime has quite some, due to the compression of the story. To be precise, some situations are not properly foreshadowed or even explained, so they don't make any sense to people not familiar with the video game. Case in point: It's never explained why Ion dies if he reads the Planet Score. He just does.
  • Adult Child: Luke, because of his complete amnesia (complete--he had to relearn how to eat) seven years ago. He's basically seven years old. Can be seen as a Deconstruction, as his childish acts eventually piss everybody off before he gets his Character Development.
  • Adults Are Useless / Competence Zone: Averted by Jade, who is twice the age of the rest of the cast but is often complimented on his ability to keep up with the younger heroes. Lampshaded by his occasional comments about how his joints ache in his "old age" (he's 35), usually giving him an excuse to get out of manual labor (IE crate-moving puzzles; ironically, when he does have to push a crate around, he does so with one hand, the other remaining in his pocket).
  • Aerith and Bob: Mystearica and Luke.
  • An Aesop: People can change, not only on an individual level (ie Luke), but the ultimate conflict between the heroes and the Big Bad is over whether society can adapt to a world without the score or whether it is doomed to fall back into its previous ways.
  • Akashic Records: The Score, which predicts everything from national histories to what an individual person is going to do that day. Additionally, Sync has a Mystic Arte called Akashic Torment.
  • Allergic to Love: Guy is afraid of women, to be specific, although that doesn't stop him from hitting on them and then running the hell away. It's also suggested that he doesn't entirely know that he's turning women on, as seen when he compliments Tear on her appearance.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Luke thinks this is the case with Tear.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • The older girls in the Order, who did their best to make Anise's life miserable, mocked her parentage, and insisted she was incapable of being a good Fon Master guardian.
    • Happens to Van and Tear while they are watchers in the Qliphoth. The other soldiers were jealous of them because they came from the Outer Lands and are descendants of Yulia.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Nebilim. She has the best Strike and Fonic Artes in the entire game. She also has Mystic Artes like Rending Saber, Mystic Cage, Indignation, Innocent Shine, and Fortune's Arc.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Van to Tear. Asch to Luke.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: When Tear starts to sing the Grand Fonic Hymn, the final boss's battlefield turns into this.
  • Anime Theme Song: "Karma" by Bump of Chicken -- the vocals were removed in the English localization. It was even recycled for the animated adaptation.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You only fight with four characters, while you have a total of six; complete with Hand Wave as to what the other characters are doing while your main party is fighting.
  • Arc Number: Everything seems to come in sevens: seven fonons, seven fonstones, seven fonic hymns, seven years since Luke lost his memories, seven Ion replicas, seven playable characters (though that one might be coincidence) and various other examples.
  • The Atoner:
    • Luke, after he realizes what a complete ass he's been and gets an Important Haircut.
    • Anise, after Ion's death.
    • Spinoza, after the death of his colleagues due to his betrayal.
    • Mieu is also an atoner since he's been exiled from his village because of his actions. He is just a small child, but his playing around lead to a horrible fire that killed several of his kind and started a war with another species that is now dominating and terrorizing his people.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Luke's, Guy's, and Anise's second level Mystic Artes, which become available in a New Game+. They are a pain in the ass to learn how to use, and either require a particularly unfavorable HP level to activate or have a high cost associated with them (-20,000 gald for Anise). Also, Luke and Anise's only be used once per battle.
  • Ax Crazy: Nebilim.
  • Backstory: Essentially all of the Character Development for Guy and Jade comes from their past. Most of Guy's Backstory is right there in the open during the plot. To get most of Jade's, you have to go looking for it.
  • Badass Grandpa: Everyone but Spinoza in classes I and M, all the way. Culminates in four Heroic Sacrifices.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Sync fights with only his hands. Anise's Strike Artes fit this mold also.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Luke.
  • Beach Episode: The Keterburg Hotel Spa. Complete with Fanservice outfits for Tear and Natalia!
  • Beard of Evil: Van. Lampshaded by Anise in a skit.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Holy crap, is it ever. Why don't the people of Auldrant do anything when something bad happens? Because the Score predicted it, so there's no point meddling.
  • Beta Test Baddie: Played straight by Sync.
  • Big Bad: Vandesdelca Musto Fende (AKA, Master Van)
  • Bishounen: Majority of the male cast fit this trope.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Anise. Sugary sweet on the outside, utterly cynical on the inside. Mind you, she's not all that bad on the inside when the chips are down, being ultimately something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. She is also The Mole working for Grand Maestro Mohs and has been giving him information about Ion and the team since day one.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Depending on who the red haired person at the end is, Tear or Natalia will be very sad.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Jade's spear is actually fused into his arm, and he calls it out with a fonic arte.
  • Blade on a Stick: Jade uses a spear and variations thereof as his primary weapon. Also, in the anime, it's shown that the tip of Tear's staff is sharp enough to pierce flesh.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Gender inverted:
    • Anise has a crush on Ion, and is also his bodyguard. Ion's former body guard, Arietta, also has a crush on him, which is the main reason why Anise and Arietta hate each other.
    • Legretta loves Van and is his right hand woman.
  • Bonus Boss: In the Bonus Dungeon, there are clones of the God-Generals and Replicantis, the Sword Dancer, and in the Devil's Arms sidequest, Nebilim. Oh, and there's the Tales Cameo Team, as well.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Replica Lab, which is also a particularly frustrating Escort Mission without an online map.
  • Break the Haughty: Pretty much everything that happens to Luke in the first half of the game. Also, for Natalia, she subdues a bit when she joins the party, realizing quickly that fighting in real life is much different from practice. The real kick for her, though, is when she discovers she's not really a princess, and her real father is one of the God-Generals.
  • Cain and Abel: Tear and Van, Luke and Asch.
  • The Call Has Bad Reception: After completing the Absorbtion Gate, Lorelei warns Luke and Asch that Van survived and is trying to imprison it. The problem? Lorelei used the ancient Ispanian translation of Van's name, "The one who would seize glory". If it had just used his normal name, Luke and the party could have started to head out and foil his schemes a whole month earlier.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Everyone in the main party and Quirky Miniboss Squad does this with their artes. Luke, Guy, and Asch will yell out a phrase to accompany their Field of Fonons Artes, e.g. "Blade reveal your fury! Dragon Tempest!"
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Luke and Tear. This goes on for about a third of the entire game. The rest of the party easily knows that they have romantic feelings for each other, but Luke can't spit it out because, well, he's seven years old and his fonons are separating, so, by Luke's logic, why tell her how he feels when she'll just be brokenhearted when he disappears, and Tear can't spit it out because she's textbook Kuudere.
  • Captain Oblivious
  • Capulet Counterpart: Tear fits this in some ways.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Luke: "Shut up!"
    • Tear: "You idiot" (saved specially for Luke)
    • Jade: "My, my!"
    • Anise: "Booo!" (or in Japanese "Buu buu!")
    • Natalia: "Oh, my!"
    • Mieu: "Master!"
  • Character Development: The entire main party goes through different levels of this, but Luke more than anyone else in the game.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Dark Wings are mentioned near the very beginning of the game and finally show up a while after.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Natalia and Luke made one, which became one of the defining points in Natalia's life as it contained the ideals to which they would strive to as future monarchs. Luke doesn't remember making it, so Natalia reminds him about it at every opportunity and dreams about how romantic it would be if his first recalled memory was of the promise. It's revealed that she really made the promise with Asch, which leads to much guilt on Natalia's part for forcing her dreams onto Luke, and forms the basis for her own personal struggle to differentiate Luke and Asch.
  • The Chosen One: Luke. But it's not as simple as that. Asch was the original Chosen One, and Luke was created as a mere decoy. But both Luke and Asch's individual actions coincide with those of The Chosen One, as predicted in the Score. The simplest explanation is that they are both "The Chosen One".
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Fridge Logic leads one to the conclusion that the God-Generals have this, switching loyalty between Asch (during the Akzeriuth quest), Mohs, and Van, despite all three having vastly different goals. Partially justified in that the God Generals are all Selfish Evil: they all have their own agendas (for Dist it's reviving Nebilim, for Sync it's destroying the world), so it's safe to assume that they're just trying to make sure what they want gets done.
  • Church Militant: The Oracle Knights are the guardians of the Order of Lorelei, though even the non-militants like Ion have some pretty awesome abilities.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: Lamphashed by the party right after Van goes One-Winged Angel on them.
  • Cloning Blues: Every way you can stretch it.
  • Colonel Badass: Jade.
  • Combat Medic: Both Natalia and Tear can alternate as a long/mid distance fighter or the healer, depending on which kind of healing you prefer (Gradual area-of-effect spells from Tear, or concentrated single-target artes by Natalia)
  • Combination Attack: the "Field of Fonons" thing. Whenever a character uses [Technique A] which is (say) Fire-elemental, it leaves a circle on the battlefield charged with Fire. Stand in that circle and use [Technique B], and [Technique B] will turn into something new (and generally Fire-elemental).
  • Compressed Adaptation: This is most notable in the CD dramas, though the manga suffers from this as well. Many things are left out of the CD dramas, including the Albiore, an important vehicle that you spend several quests and subquests in the game acquiring, reacquiring, and powering up. Also left out of the dramas is Mieu, though some would say that's a good thing.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Tales of the Abyss not only has Ion go to his death with a smile because he can't grasp that his individual life has any meaning besides what he can do with it. Instead of resenting it, he is honestly happy that betraying him and causing his death helped The Mole. While he's an extreme example, the entire population of Auldrant qualifies.
    • Luke's own father and uncle are willing to send him to die both [to set off a war they'll win and because the Score says so: it's not until fairly late in the game that they seem to realize that this was a cruel thing to do to Luke and Natalia and it would have been not just ok, but good for them to not want to do it.
    • Grand Maestro Mohs sees nothing wrong with a genocidal war, since the Score was made to bring prosperity to Auldrant, so it's obviously for the best. He actually doesn't even qualify as a Well-Intentioned Extremist on Auldrant. His is the moderate faction, containing the normal, sensible members of the Order who just want the best for Auldrant, like Tear.
    • Almost everyone reacts with shock and horror to the idea of revealing a Score of death, especially if doing so would save someone's life and go against the Score.
    • The Big Bad. When Luke asks him if he cares about Luke at all other than as a living weapon he honestly doesn't understand the question, mistaking it for an existential one. The Big Bad was brought into the world as a Laser Guided Tykebomb, in accordance with the Score with parents who were aware of this the entire time and only thought about him in terms of that function just like how he regards Luke. Oh, and as a babysitter for their 'real' child. The people who used him to destroy his homeland and as an excuse for performing deadly experiments on civilians who were going to die anyway considered themselves fully justified, between the Score and using him as a scapegoat. It was okay to hook him into a machine and destroy Hod for the greater good, and he's doing this to allow humanity to survive the Scored end of the world.
    • The Start of Darkness for most of the loyal god-generals was when they ran into a horror that they could not accept. Largo's daughter was kidnapped, causing his wife to kill herself and he could not have justice. Legretta suddenly fell in love with someone she went after in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and the knowledge that this was likely Scored makes her skin crawl. Sync, like Ion believes that he can't have value other than as a tool and hates this.
  • Convection Shmonvection: Played straight, and lampshaded in a skit. (See Exposed to the Elements, further below.) Heck, even touching the magma isn't that bad. The characters can be completely submerged in magma with only a couple hit points missing to show for it.
  • Corrupt Church
  • Cosmic Deadline: Funny how you pretty much do nothing different in fights with the Big Bad, and he finally decides to die for good after roughly 60 hours.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Jade abused harmless animals and had a rather warped view of death and killing. That's not to mention his Creepy Monotone and overall fonic genius, but he's grown out of it.
    • Original Ion, in the manga. Kills what amounts to a newborn baby on page 9.
  • Crutch Character: Jade, before he conveniently has his powers sealed to the same level as the other party members. And slowly works through said seal, conveniently gaining power at the same rate as everyone else.
  • Cryptic Conversation: A subversion. The conversations with Lorelei, and the Score itself, are considered cryptic and become hard to understand not because they're metaphorical or mystical but because people expect them to be. 'Light of the Sacred Flame' is not a metaphor, it's a translation out of the language the Score was spoken in of Luke fon Fabre. Miner's City is also not a metaphor or poetic description of Akzeriuth: the city didn't have a name when Yulia read the Score because it hadn't been built yet, so Lorelei just called it what it was. Because of this, the characters seem to assume that Scion of Lorelei is another metaphor or that Lorelei is saying something mystical when he tries to explain to Luke that the reason Lorelei is speaking to him is that they're one and the same entity, and Luke needs to know certain things to save them both.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Order of Lorelei.
  • Cute Shotaro Boy: Ion
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Your party is surrounded by a bunch of Mooks that you've already beaten a hundred times over, and they decide to surrender. Meanwhile...
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: ... Tear can put an entire house to sleep, jump off a roof, and nearly kill someone without breaking a sweat. Though in another cutscene near the end of the game, she strains herself heavily just putting eight people to sleep, claiming that she never put that many people to sleep before. While it may be arguable that she only attacked the people that were currently in the courtyard of Fabre mansion at the start of the game (and only made Luke, Van and Guy kinda groggy, at that), it's somewhat unlikely that every knight in Natalia's palace was pretending to be asleep, though they'd probably do it if it meant that Natalia would be safe. It's worth noting that Tear was already feeling weak from the miasma before she put that band of replicas to sleep.
  • Damsel in Distress: Fon Master Ion, a rare male example, and further supported to his extremely girly appearance. (And female voice actress.)
  • Dark Magical Girl: Arietta.
  • Dead Little Sister: It's actually Guy's older sister.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Jade is quite possibly the king of this trope.
    • Anise, sometimes.
  • Death Seeker: Played straight by Asch, subverted by Luke.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The game tears into the concept of The Chosen One (and every other trope relating to destiny and fate).
  • Desperation Attack:
    • Luke's Lost Fon Drive Mystic Arte is usable only when Luke has less than 15% HP.
    • Story wise, he is also only able to use it at the end of the game, when his body is (quite literally) falling apart.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Usually, you want to have Luke and Tear in your party when you fight Van for the last time, and to listen to what they have to say to him, but by changing around your team, and getting rid of Luke/Tear, or both. The lines spoken are different, and the conversation will be whoever the current party leader is, and Van, while the scene shows The party leader running in. This was later returned in Tales of Vesperia.
    • While playing a New Game+, changing Luke's title to one post-Important Haircut will lead to Guy having an extra line in his introduction scene at the beginning of the game.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Happens after you collect the final Catalyst weapon.

Luke: What's the matter?
Tear: ...I don't know. I just suddenly got worried...
Luke: Don't worry. If worse comes to worst, I'll protect you.
Tear: What...?
Luke: Uh... I-I didn't mean it like that...
Tear: ...Well, fine. I didn't take it like that.

  • Disc One Final Dungeon: The Absorbtion Gate takes place about 3/4 through the game, but if you experience the build up and the seemingly resolution of the entire plotline up to facing the Big Bad, not to mention the kickass music when you fight him, it's a safe bet to say the developers wanted players to think this was the last dungeon.
  • Disc One Nuke: By exploiting a Good Bad Bug, it's possible to get the Vorpal Sword, a near-endgame level weapon for Luke and Guy, the first time you can run around on the world map.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Well, sort of. After you fight the Big Bad the first time, he throws himself off the ledge and into the planet's core. Everyone thinks he died, and he himself was expecting to die, but he actually survives. When he dies for real, you kill him.
    • Sync, too.
  • The Ditz: While not being a full blown example like Colette Brunel, Natalia has her moments of profound stupidity. While in the Shurrey Hill Sephiroth, Anise convinces Natalia that Van's beard and eyebrows give him special powers. In a skit in Daath after the party has spent significant time in a desert region, everyone remarks about how sweaty they are. Instead of being worried about whether or not she may actually be a real princess, Natalia is more concerned about smelling bad.
  • Don't Say Such Stupid Things: Every time Luke opens his mouth.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: During the Contamination Sidequest, Dist feels sorry for Jade and tries to make him feel better with amounts to a platitude since Luke is doomed to become Deader Than Dead and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Jade is unamused, both since Asch having Luke's memories won't make him Luke any more than the Nebilim replica containing Professor Nebilim's memories made her Professor Nebilim and when Dist pities you, that's when you know you've really hit rock bottom.
  • Doomed Hometown: Inverted: Luke's hometown isn't destroyed, the Big Bad's is, and it's one of the reasons he hates the Score.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Ion. And by extension, Florian.
  • Duel Boss: Luke fights Asch alone twice, though you're allowed (and expected) to lose the first fight.
  • Dull Surprise: Quite a few scenes in the game. This, for example, is the face of someone who is in danger of being eaten alive by an angry beast about twenty times their size.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: You have to admit how cool it was how Asch died. Unarmed at first, he manages to fight off dozens of soldiers but then ends up stabbed in the back. The sword goes through him, another three swords get stabbed through his body. He kills the last remaining soldiers, remains standing and pulls one of the swords out before his strength leaves him and he falls to the ground.
  • Dynamic Entry: Enter the amazing Guy! [dead link]
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Subverted, barely. While the world never blows up, manipulation by the Big Bad and Luke's heroic incompetence leads to half the world missing at one point.
  • Element Number Five: The seventh fonon: the element of sound.
  • The Empire: Averted, but Mohs tries to convince King Ingobert VI of Kimlasca that Malkuth is this and is trying to mobilize forces to invade Kimlasca, only for the heroes, who had actually seen the country with their own eyes, met a colonel in its military, and visited the locations supposedly gathering forces, to run into the throne room and inform the king of the truth even taking the colonel in question, Jade Curtiss, along with them.
  • Escort Mission: You have to escort a bunch of villagers from their hometown to a new one. If you run into a battle, they will always get injured even though there's only two or three enemy soldiers. Later, there's also the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Everyone Can See It: Guy, Jade, Natalia, and Anise all know that Luke and Tear both love each other.
  • Evil Knockoff: Sync, especially after he stops wearing his mask later in the game.
  • Evil Laugh: Dist. Also, Mohs, after his monstrous transformation.
  • The Evils of Free Will: A war that was destroying the world was stopped by the creation of the Score which set the future in stone and is repeatedly stated to make individual choices mean absolutely nothing. Since the Score is the optimal future, the one that creates the most happiness and prosperity trying to fight it even to save someone's life by telling them their Death Score is considered an evil action. Of course, it's all futile anyway, since replicas are the only ones with free will. If the Score is the best future, then entities that have no place in that future must be evil, or at the best 'not good.' This explains Mohs' opinion of them.
  • Evil Twin: Played straight by Sync; subverted by Asch. In the manga, however, it's revealed that this is inverted by the real Ion, who is a evil kid that adopts people as pets.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Lampshaded repeatedly in conversation skits. Neither Jade nor Tear is safe from this.
  • Expy:
  • False-Flag Operation: Attempted by Van and Friends. Subverted in that their intended target doesn't fall for it. (Well, Natalia does. But she at least has enough common sense to ask the other side about the attack before pushing the big red "TO WAR" button.)
  • Famous Ancestor: None other than Yulia Jue for Tear and Van.
  • Fantastic Racism: In regards to the replicas that end up all over the world in the last part of the game. An important part of Asch's motivations.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted by Legretta; played straight with everyone else.
  • Fearful Symmetry: Justified and abused by Luke and Asch.
  • Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Tear is an Otaku's dream girl - her costumes include a maid uniform and her Monster Collector costume gives her cat ears and a tail, with a permanent blush on her cheeks.
    • There's also Tear's and Natalia's spa outfits, and Natalia's Star of Malkuth disguise.
  • Finishing Move: The ever shiny Mystic Artes; and everyone that's important enough gets one. Or more.
    • Played very literally with Anise's second Mystic Arte, Fever Time. If it doesn't end the battle, say bye-bye to 20,000 Gald.
  • Five-Bad Band: The God-Generals.
  • Floating Continent: Try the entire crust of a planet.
  • Friendly Enemy: More or less everyone but Mohs and Asch. Almost everybody has had professional relationships in the same military before the fighting starts, and the lack of real animosity is palpable.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Annoyingly hand waved by Jade, who says at one point that he can't use artes to fight back, because there were too many civilians around without friend-or-foe markings.
    • It might still be hand waving, but a book in Grand Chokmah explains 'marking' and how it pertains to preventing friendly fire. It's better than no explanation, at least.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Jade Curtiss.
  • Fungus Humongous: Mushroom Road.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: Both in-universe and out of universe, there's Guy's fear of women. It's played for laughs, up until it's revealed what caused it. Almost everyone in the party felt horrible for having made fun of him for it, and it's probably safe to say that a lot of fans instantly felt bad for laughing at it.
  • Gag Boobs: They love playing on Tear's melons.
  • Gainax Ending: Wait, so, um...Why are Luke and Asch shining like that? What, are they melding or something? Why did the screen go completely white? Why did Asch's hand just twitch? Why are the credits rolling right now without answering those questions?! Oh, good, there's a after-credits stinger. And he's back! Wait, his hair is long again. But his sword's sheath is affixed similarly to Luke's. But his hair is long and Tear seems more surprised than relieved and "I promised someone" could refer to either Tear or Natalia, not to mention that Jade's the only one who would know about the Big Bang Effect (the reason it would be Asch instead of Luke) and he looks like someone's killed his puppy--GAAAAAHHH.
    • There's a lot of Your Mileage May Vary going on with this one; some people think it's obviously Luke, some people think it's obviously Asch, and there's a stack of evidence on both sides. But for those who don't think there's any reason for a controversy to exist, Word of God says that you're SUPPOSED to decide what the ending means for yourself. Who would say that about anything if there were an obvious, straightforward answer?
      • Well, according to one rumor (I believe it was cited as being in one of the Japanese artbooks or complete guides or whatever?), it was supposed to clearly be Luke and a last minute call was made to change things so it would be more ambiguous--so Executive Meddling?
    • the two have a psychic connection. Its possible that one is a Soul Jar for the other.
  • Gainaxing: Have Tear as the displayed character and start running. Also, a number of cutscenes.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Many of Tear's fonic hymns are optional to learn, and some can even be Lost Forever, even though the story states that she has to know all of them by the end.
  • Gender Blender Name: Jade. Peony. Saphir...
    • Also Lorelei, who is given a rather deep and masculine voice.
  • Generation Xerox: A Laser Guided Tykebomb born specifically for the purpose of destroying a city ends up defying the Score in order to save the world from utter destruction, gathering a group of allies, one of whom was originally out to kill him and another of which betrays him. Also, his friend Ion dies and he's helpless to save him. There are several more ways in which Van and Luke fit this trope.
  • Genki Girl: Anise.
  • Global Airship: The Albiore, though this is debatable, since you spend a good portion of the game with it unable to fly.
  • Glowing White Blood With A Slight Red Tint: The anime.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Guy's Hopeless Dreamer outfit has a pair of goggles on his forehead.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Jade's glasses don't do anything to correct his vision (which is, in fact, above average). Instead, his eyes are where his ability to use magic is concentrated, and the glasses act as a Power Limiter.
  • Gold Digger: Anise. Justified in that she is trying to shovel her parents out of debt. Nonetheless, it's slightly squicky to see this thirteen-year-old girl trying to twine herself around Luke. Or, say, Peony, who is thirty-six. The first part, though, isn't really that creepy in Japan.
    • The Squick isn't as strong if you take Luke's age at face value (17). However, if you go by his real age (7), it gets worse.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Dark Wings.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Asch is trying to accomplish the same thing you are, to stop Van from destroying the world and replacing it with a Replica world, but that sure doesn't stop Asch from passionately hating Luke and threatening to kill him.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Asch.
  • Guide Dang It: Many of the sidequests are Lost Forever if you're not too careful, annoyingly some are important in understanding some plot points in the game.
    • Din's Shop is also pretty complicated, but it's the only way to get some of the best armor, and Natalia's strongest bow, which is needed for her second Mystic Arte.
    • On the topic of Mystic Artes, many probably had to look up how to do the second-playthrough Mystic Artes.
  • Guns Akimbo: Legretta.
  • Have a Nice Death: If you die on a boss battle, you can view a small skit that helps you exploit the enemy's weakness.
  • Harder Than Hard: Unknown. All enemies stats are increased fourfold compared to what they were on Normal. Mystic Artes can and will destroy you. Bosses have such incredibly high defense that you're essentially forced to spend millions of Gald on a potential Game Breaker sword for Luke and Guy in Chesedonia if you want to do more than one damage per hit when said bosses easily have over 70k HP even in the first chapter of the game.
  • Healing Checkpoint: Some of the save points, although not all of them.
  • Healing Spring: The Desert Oasis has this for weary and thirsty travelers.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Opening combat tutorial.
  • Heroic BSOD: Luke, after he commits an act that makes everyone in the party hate him, even though he's the main character, exacerbated after he finds out he's a replica.
    • Further exacerbated by the fact that he had been post-hypnotically manipulated into doing it by his beloved master who also gave him a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness speech at the same time, and that his father and uncle knew that they were sending him and his party to suicide bomb a city so that they could use it as an excuse to start a World War, and that the destruction of Akzeriuth destabilized the entire continent, leading to potentially thousands more deaths. And did we mention that Luke is one of the few RPG main characters that absolutely hates killing people, had a BSOD the first time he killed someone, and still has nightmares about every person he kills?
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Ion. Asch repeatedly attempts this, but never quite pulls it off. He eventually dies because he wouldn't accept a weapon from Luke, in a great aversion of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
    • Also, after he realizes what a complete ass he's been, Luke slowly begins to develop an inferiority complex and think the only way to redeem himself is through this. He appears to do this in the ending, but it's not made clear whether he does or not.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The fight against Asch, though it's very much winnable in terms of game mechanics. Once you go back to the cutscene, though...
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Just think Akzeriuth. Luke had Van's betrayal coming from a mile away.
  • 100% Completion: (although all you really get is a stat-boosting title and the Bragging Rights Reward)
  • Hypno Fool: The reason Luke blows up Azkeriuth.
  • I Named The Rappig Jade: ... and Luke. And Nephry. And Aslan... He named the stupid one Saphir, which is Dist's real name. The Nephry one also has the prettiest collar. Jade does not approve.
  • Incoming Ham: "Enter the amazing Guy!"
  • In the Blood: Only descendants of Yulia can sing her hymns, and only designated seventh fonists can use the seventh fonon. Jade and Mohs tried to defy this rule with disastrous results.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: If you read Luke's journals toward the end of the game, you'll realize that he decides against telling Tear how he feels because his body is going to disintegrate soon anyway and it would just break her heart.
  • I Will Wait for You: Tear says this to Luke right after Van's final defeat.
  • Idiot Hero: Luke. My God, Luke.

Jade: You're amazingly dense, aren't you, Luke?
Guy: Are you stupid? Only a child needs kindness to be blatantly obvious in order to see it.
Anise: Luke. Do you actually think there's anyone in the world who'd say "yes, I'm pushing myself"? You're so dumb!

  • Implied Love Interest: Take your pick:
  • Important Haircut: Luke gets one at the end of the first part.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: One of these can be seen in the cutscene after activating the Absorption Gate, letting you know the game isn't really over. Oops.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Subverted; see what happens after Akzeriuth in this scene. (only the first 55 seconds is relevant)
    • Forget Akzeriuth. Remember the thousands of technical infants that Luke and Asch sacrifice in order to obliterate the miasma in the second half of the game, after Dist tore a bloody swath through them in order to prevent them from sacrificing themselves in that manner in the first place? Not to mention all the Replicas that Luke and company had to have blown through in the final dungeon, or how Ion (and thus probably Synch) was only two years old.
  • Informed Ability: Van taught Tear the fonic hymns, and we get referenced to him using them, but we never hear him sing like Tear.
  • Instant Runes: When casting spells, and most definitely with Jade's Indignation.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: It's pointed out many times how much older Jade is than the rest of the group (particularly with Anise, of whom he's close to three times her age). Not that he wants to admit that they're friends.
  • Invocation
  • It Gets Easier: Subverted with Luke who never gets used to killing people. Jade even mentions that he knows that Luke doesn't sleep at night, because of the nightmares he has. Played straight with Natalia though.
  • James Bondage: Ion, who manages to get himself kidnapped more times than most female damsels.
  • Jerkass:
    • Luke, before he realizes what a complete ass he's been and gets an Important Haircut.
    • Sync is the game's most triumphant, unrepentant example, however. Any sympathy from his Freudian Excuse is negated by him kicking the dog at every opportunity.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Jade and Anise. No wonder they get along so well.
    • Luke at the start of the game qualifies as well. For a seven year old member of the highest levels of nobility with the life experience of a toddler, he's surprisingly down to Earth and his rudeness is tempered by his extreme aversion to killing and desire to protect people.
  • Jiggle Physics: If Tear is your on-screen character, her Gag Boobs bounce when she runs. This can be noticed in certain cutscenes as well, e.g. a scene that involves Tear walking towards the screen with her entire body in clear focus.
  • Joined Your Party: Midway in the game, Asche does this. But he leaves to investigate something.
    • Guy does this later on in the game, when the team was traveling with Asche. He leaves because he's more loyal to Luke, despite that Luke has Cloning Blues.
  • Just in Time:
    • Can be averted. If you take too long to save Ginji and the Albiore I, he really will fall to his death.
    • Oddly, though, the game is playing this straight at the exact same time: the entire reason you're trying to save Ginji and the Albiore I is to save the people remaining in St. Binah before it sinks, which conveniently takes long enough for the party to go halfway around the world and engage in a Fetch Quest. The anime adaptation rewrites things to make more sense: the party doesn't take part in the first-mentioned act at all, and Noelle happens to arrive at St. Binah with the Albiore Just in Time.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Plenty from villains all around; the most overt would be Sync's blow below the belt towards Anise.
    • Legretta's slaughter of Belkend and Sheridan's Class I and Class M tech-heads was pretty horrific too.
  • Kissing Cousins: Natalia and Luke. Subverted: while Luke's mother is Natalia's father's sister, Luke as you first know him from the story is actually a clone, and Natalia was adopted from another family when the real princess died in infancy. Double subversion because the two of them are royalty, meaning it's practically mandated.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: There is something amusing about having Luke steal 100 gald from his parents' room right at the start of the game.
  • Kuudere: Tear, of course.
  • Lampshade Hanging: If you carry over your costume titles and equip Luke with one pre-Important Haircut, the other characters will point it out.
  • Law of Cartographical Elegance: A particularly egregious example, as part of the plot involves going to the North and South Poles... which are right next to one another when traveling on the Field, even though the cutscenes makes it clear that Aldurant is a globe.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Subverted in that Luke isn't really an amnesiac; he's actually a clone of the "real" Luke: Asch. The game makes it clear that clones are a complete blank slate; Guy recalls Luke having to learn to walk.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When having the party run around in their bathing suits, some say that somebody must be forcing them to wear them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Mt. Zaleho.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!:
    • Forced upon the party during the first trip to Absorption Gate. A platform collapses and separates the party into three pairs: Luke and Tear, Guy and Natalia, and Jade and Anise.
    • Happens twice more: first during the Timed Mission in the Meggiora Highlands, and again when the party attempts to warn the civilians and military as the Shurrey Hill area is about to fall. At least during these, you get to choose who goes in which party; the former has you choose between Guy and Jade, and the latter between Natalia and Jade (again).
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Subverted in that, although Asch is working towards the same goal as the party, he hates Luke personally, and would gladly kill him if given the opportunity. To be fair, he has every reason to, thought it isn't the reason you think...
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Princess Natalia is the text book example, and to a lesser extent, so is Luke.
    • While Jade is a decent chef, according to skits he uses his cooking as "non-lethal" experiments on the group. It's usually mild things like putting in disliked ingredients or testing their tolerance for spiciness, but it probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to have him cook while you're in Mushroom Road.
  • Literal Genie: Aside from his tendency to translate names out of Ancient Ispanian and say Light of the Sacred Flame when he just means Luke fon Fabre, for example, Lorelei is a well-intentioned example of this. The Score is a fairly straightforward list of historical occurrences in chronological order. For instance, the war will certainly bring prosperity to Kimlasca... until the plague kills them all. A pity that part was on the next fonstone. There are two times in the game where Lorelei saying something fairly straightforward is turned into a Cryptic Conversation because the listeners expect him to be cryptic and mystical when all he's trying to do is tell them some piece of vital information in simple terms.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Anise occasionally descends into this.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The load times after a battle on the world map are generally bad, but become far worse if you're in the Zao Desert. It's particularly bad in the Inista Marsh because the game treats the area as if you're still on the world map and not in an actual dungeon like any other area listed in the dungeon listing of your map. This issue was greatly improved in the 3DS version, in which load times got considerably shorter than in the PlayStation 2 version.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Jade figures out early that Luke is a replica of Asch but doesn't tell him... it's not like its an important part of the Big Bad's plan or anything.
  • Lost Woods: Theor Forest.
  • Lost Technology: Used to make the Sephiroths, and the entirety of Yulia City. Modern-day residents of Yulia City have no idea how it even works or how to make more of it.
  • Love Hurts: Really bad.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Anise, Arietta, Legretta, Dist, and Jade, of all people.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Anise, Arietta and Ion, despite the fact that none of them can spit it out. This game makes a kinda cruel variation: Arietta was in love with the original Ion, since it was him who protected her and taught her everything when she was separated from her monsters family. Anise, on the other hand, falls for the replica Ion, who is the only one she got to know. Of course, neither of the girls know about this.
    • In a skit, it is implied that, if Asch had not appeared, Luke, Tear and Natalia most probably would have ended up in the same situation.
  • Low Level Advantage: If you're on a New Game Plus and you carried over your Capacity Cores, it's recommended to fight as few battles as possible until Ion gives Luke his first Capacity Core in the Cheagle Woods.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Largo is Natalia's true father. He didn't particularly care to tell his child about this, though...
    • Although technically, Luke has no father, Van could be considered his father because he created him. Jade could also be considered his father as he invented fomicry. Neither of them though, uttered the famous words, despite Anise attempts to invoke it with Jade.
  • Made of Plasticine: The anime is full of this.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The game's physics are unusually consistent, affecting not just the overall plot but battle mechanics, cutscenes, and even character development arcs.
    • When Jade is fon slot sealed, his stats decrease because stats are measurements of various types of fonons and fonic power. In the same way Jade stores his spear, everyone uses fonons to enhance their abilities, growing better it with experience.
    • People aren't hit by friendly fonic artes because fonists can mark their allies' fon slots. The fact they can only protect a few people at a time not only justifies the entire party not participating in battle and why they can't be swapped out during the battle (the markings would need to be redone), but is actually mentioned in a cutscene, where Jade reminds Tear that she can't use an arte around that many unmarked civilians.
    • The scene where they discuss the nature of Lorelei and the nature of a fon sentience seems like it's just general background info and an excuse to poke fun at Luke's ignorance but a piece of information there is a Chekhov's Gun. The definition of a fonon sentience is a sentient pure clump of the fonon with the sentience's fonon frequency. And Luke is a replica, pure seventh fonon, with Lorelei's fonon frequency. Lorelei later states that Luke is another aspect of himself and this explains why replicas aren't included in the Score despite being seventh fonon: they're not under Lorelei's jurisdiction.
    • The entire Contamination Sidequest revolves around how Auldrant's laws of physics are as unforgiving as our own, when Jade has to come to terms with the fact that despite all his determination and genius it's simply not possible for him to save Luke any more than he can bring back Professor Nebilim.
  • Magical Incantation
  • Magic Music:
    • Tear's best abilities are her fonic hymns, which require her to sing.
    • Musical symbology is rife in this game. In the Japanese translation, "fonic artes" (magic) is rendered as "tone magic". When Jade uses his "Mystic Cage" arte, he says (in English), "Oh admonishing melody, arise in the name of the Necromancer. Mystic Cage!" And all the titles in front of Order-of-Lorelei ranks (Ionian, Locrian, etc) are all music-theory terms. And let's not forget that the "fonons" manipulated by magic are basic particles of sound.
    • To say nothing of the fact that the world is governed by a Score and several of the levels have giant floating music staffs in the background.
    • The several of the teleport pads in the Absorption Gate look like treble clefs.
    • Most of the Capacity Cores and shops have music-term names (Marcato is a Core while Virtuoso is a shop in Baticul, for instance). Largo is also a tempo of music.
  • Magitek: Fon machines/fontech
  • May-December Romance:
    • Here's a fun thought, Luke is technically seven years old with a mindset to match and only has the body of a seventeen year old, while Tear actually is sixteen years old. Tear knows Luke's real age and yet by the end of the game both of them love each other. Sorta weird on Luke's part, kinda creepy on Tears's part.
    • Not to mention Anise/Arrietta and the current Ion, who is * two.*
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Asch. He's the leftover ashes of The Holy Flame.
    • Also, Luke himself: the name actually does mean "Light".
    • Also, Sync is a clone; Largo is really big; "Vandesdelca" means "one who would seize glory"; Guy is afraid of women (gynophobic); and most of the God-Generals have musical names which ties in with the overall sonic theme of the setting.
    • Legretta is really quick. Legretta's name is actually an example of Spell My Name with an "S". While not incorrect, a better translation would be Regret. Kinda makes sense. May also be a Woolseyism to maintain the God-General's musical theme naming.
    • Natalia is a double whammy. First off, Natalia means birthday, and that comes into play when Luke finds a locket with that date inscribed on it. It's Largo's prized possession, to commemorate the birth of his daughter Meryl, who is actually Natalia. Secondly, Meryl means shining sea. Natalia birth mother committed suicide by drowning in the Sea of Baticul when her newborn daughter was taken from her to replace the original Natalia, who was stillborn.
    • Lorelei. Interesting to give the fonon sentience of healing the name of a singer that lured people to their deaths. The Score is literally Lorelei's memory, meaning Lorelei has to die to destroy it, according to Van, and the only way to do that is to destroy Auldrant itself. The Score is described as a tempting drug that lures people...
    • Many of the important place names are taken from the Kabbalah [1]. Qliphoth, for instance, represents the evil spiritual forces, while Malkuth is the lowest of the Sephiroth, separating them from the Qliphoth. Malkuth literally means "Kingdom".
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: The enormous "dolls" Anise rides and fights with during battle. Tokunaga being the nominal mech in question.
  • Mercy Mode: In the game's brief stealth section, you're supposed to have your party sneak through a forest, while avoiding soldiers and guard dog patrols. If you're caught, you return to the start of the area. However, if you get caught too many times, the game will let you brute force your way through, fighting the enemies and not bothering with stealth.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction:
    • In the anime, all it took was one minor scratch to his chest to make the final boss of the Absorption Gate declare himself defeated, and throw himself over the edge to (presumably) his death while giggling like a maniac. Not the case in the game, however, as it takes quite the boss fight first to defeat him there.
    • Same goes for Sync. Once his mask is broken (if that can be called an injury) and his identity is revealed he goes on a spiel about Cloning Blues and promptly jumps into the abyss. Keep in mind, he was kicking everyone's collective ass up to that point.
  • Minigame Zone: Snowy Keterburg has a Las Vagas-ish casino.
  • Mirror Boss:
    • Most of the God-Generals, especially Asch.
    • The cameo team battle in the Arena is essentially this. Reid is Luke/Guy, Mint is Tear/Natalia, Philia is Jade, and Nanaly is Anise/Natalia.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • Rappigs, half rabbit, half pig. More like 9/10 pig and 1/10 rabbit, really. They're basically pigs with bunny ears.
    • Also "Ligers"... lion + tiger?
      • Note that these are different from real ligers.
    • Replicantis
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tear's Gag Boobs are frequently Lampshaded by the party members, though Natalia gets the skimpier, more revealing outfits. Equip either with these and they will complain about being made to wear them.
  • Mythology Gag:

Luke: Our weapons are status!
Jade: Scheming!
Anise: Playing ''dirty...''

  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Asch The Bloody, and let's not forget Van's real name means The one who would seize glory.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The party manages to solve many of the world's problems only to create new problems instead, the biggest example being when Luke sunk Akzeriuth. Most of these also result in other pseudo kabooms.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Sync.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The game has some Implied Love Interests, but it's a JRPG.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The abandoned factory in Baticul.
  • Not Quite Dead: Dist. Dist. Dist. He really is as "tenacious as a cockroach."
  • Oblivious to Love: Luke just never really seems to put the pieces together that Tear feels the same way.
  • Obvious Beta: Surprisingly, the initial release in Japan. Because it was rushed to come out at the end of 2005, it had an abnormal amount of cut content. Among them, Guy and Natalia's second mystic artes as well as cut-ins for the mystic artes used by the cameo team. (Yet ironically they still use them.)
  • Older Than They Look: Though all the characters are at seemingly young ages, it was stated in the game that a year on their planet is 765 days long, meaning that everyone is actually twice as old by our time. More than likely though, the humans of that planet age at a slower rate than we do, evening it out.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The organ music continues to go on even after the villain gets up...
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Big Bad intends to destroy the whole planet so that no trace of the Score remains, before replacing it with a Replica.
  • One-Winged Angel: Downplayed, though Van grows a literal wing on his left arm.
  • Oranyan: Asch. Nyan nyan with Natalia, ora ora with basically everyone else.
  • Overrated and Underleveled: Jade and Asch.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Asch seems to be physically incapable of being happy.
  • Physical God: Luke and Asch possess the power of Lorelei, a power that can destroy anything, teleport the user, control people's minds, heal, ressurrect the dead, control the future, etc. According to the game's physics and Lorelei himself, Luke is also a physical incarnation of Lorelei, making him the setting's real Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Plenty of Blondes: Malkuth, especially Grand Chokmah.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Luke is particularly guilty of this (even Jade says that he should have told them when it came to what happened at Akzeriuth).
    • Though this is used just as often against Luke to keep certain information from the player. This leads to several maddening instances in which the other characters berate him for not knowing anything while intentionally keeping him out of the loop.
    • Also, whether he understood it or not, Luke should have known better than to hold back any messages from Lorelei. They could have had a whole extra month to foil the Van's plans during the second half of the game, if he had told anyone in his party about the message he received about "The One Who Would Seize Glory." Though it's a mystery as to why Lorelei didn't just say Van or even Vandesdelca, since it is quite capable of using proper names...
    • Anise. True, Mohs had her up against the wall, but she kept the entire situation hidden from the group, and Ion ended up being killed as a result. They could have very likely saved both her parents and Ion, who she was supposed to be guarding in the first place.
    • Luke hides that he's dying which he wouldn't be if Asch hadn't done the same earlier, admitting he wanted to go to the Tower of Rem because he was dying anyway. Asch hiding that he was dying starts to kill Luke. Of course, it's then subverted by the Contamination Sidequests, since Asch would have survived and Luke died no matter what happened at the Tower.
  • Power Limiter: Jade has 2. The fon slot seal Largo used on him early-on in the game to even out his level with the other characters, and through an easy to miss sidequest, you learn that his glasses prevent the fonons gathered in his eyes from destroying himself and whatever he happens to be nearby. The first one justifies his leveling up by his slowly breaking the seal on his powers ENTIRELY ON HIS OWN over the course of the game. As he levels up, you'll get skits detailing his progress, and once he returns to his "original" level, you get the last of the set.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Before Luke's Heroic BSOD and quite literally with the fall of Akzeriuth.
  • Prisoner of Zenda Exit: Sync in the anime after his mask breaks.
  • The Promise: Subverted and Deconstructed by Asch who pointedly states that he thinks making promises is meaningless. Unfortunately, he never keeps his promise to Luke at the end of the game.
    • The tune that's associated with Asch's death is even titled Promise.
  • The Psycho Rangers: Though they may just be Evil Counterparts, The God-Generals are all related to a member of the main party, and often use the same skills and abilities. Luke/Asch, Tear/Legretta, Anise/Arietta, Jade/Dist, Natalia/Largo, Guy and Ion/Sync.
  • Pure Magic Being: The "Aggregate Sentiences".
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Six God-Generals, complete with matching outfit.
    • Fortunately, quirky only in name. Every battle against the God-Generals is usually the toughest boss at that point in the game, and the last battles are usually tugging on some heart strings somewhere.
  • Real Is Brown - Bright colors are used very rarely in the game's graphics. Justified, though, as bright colors would create a lot of Mood Whiplash.
  • Rebellious Princess: Subverted by Natalia, who often works her world-saving duties in with the duties to her kingdom.
  • Recurring Boss: And most of them are that boss too.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Luke's mindset in the final third of the game, Asch (kinda, since he was grudgingly on your side anyway).
  • Reformed but Rejected: A non-villain examplle in Luke, whom the party rebukes for a time after Akzeriuth.
    • It was more for the bratty attitude than the aforementioned spoiler. It was mostly Jade and Anise who were the most vicious, and they backed off when it became apparent that Luke was making an effort to be a better person. Not to mention that he was carrying a HUGE amount of guilt.
  • Regional Bonus: The North American release included some extras the original Japanese version didn't have. The Nintendo 3DS version is based on the North American version as a result and is the first time Japanese players have access to them.
  • Relax-O-Vision: Censoring on how Jade rapes beats up Dist.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Take your pick in a game that centers around Cloning Blues.
    • Only Nebilim fulfills the emotional aspect, though. While the Big Bad's ultimate plan might qualify, all the clones encountered during the game were created for far more pragmatic reasons than filling an emotional void.
  • Rescue Romance: General Frings and General Cecille's sidequest starts from this.
  • Rival Science Teams: Class I and Class M.
  • Rock Theme Naming: While a minor example, Jade and Nephry's names are derived from two minerals called 'jade': jadeite and nephrite. Also, Saphir is very likely taken from 'sapphire'.
  • Royally Screwed-Up: Kimlasca-Lanvaldear is riddled with incompetence. Malkuth, on the other hand, has many competent leaders, and it shows if you talk to the people of Grand Chokmah. They'll say things like, "Well, if Emporer Peony says so, then I'll believe him." People don't talk about King Ingobert like that, but they do like Natalia. In fact, every time they say something good about their country, it's something Natalia did, and she's not even the real princess. Duke Fabre and King Ingobert are both fairly incompetent for a large part of the story.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Almost completely averted. Almost. King Ingobert is very incompetent. Then again, there's Natalia.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Just about everything in the game is named after elements of the Jewish Kabbalah and the Sephiroth (though not always translated correctly).
  • Rule of Three: Though you have six playable characters, three are nobles, the other three are military (insofar as a Fon Master Guardian can be considered military.) You also have three warriors and three spellcasters, three males and three females, and three groups of two in regards to origins (two Kimlascans, two Malkuthians, and two members of the Order of Lorelei). You even fight each member of the God Generals, including their leader, thrice (with the exception of Asch.
  • Running Gag: "Guy, explain."
    • a minor one: "Luke said 'Thanks'?!"
  • Say My Name: Twice in this game!
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Jade and Dist, though with the latter it's only in artwork and with his right lens, while his lenses are opaque in-game.
  • Screw Destiny: What everyone wants to do, heroes and villains.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: What the Score ends up being. A lot. The most egregious example: it's implied by Lorelei in one of the final scenes that the success of Van's plan--one that was designed to avert the Score--would have been the "destruction of humanity" predicted in the original Score Of Destruction.
    • In the scene at Yulia's grave, Tear suspects that Eldrant is what Yulia planned all along and Van knew it from reading her journals. Without Van trying to create Eldrant, all of Auldrant would have collapsed into the miasma, it would just have taken a little longer. Eldrant would at least allow replicas to survive. That would make this an attempt at a Prophecy Twist by the maker of the prophecy. Luke reassures Tear by claiming that since Yulia was Lorelei's friend she wouldn't have done anything he didn't want, an argument that holds no water when Auldrant collapsing into miasma would have killed Lorelei anyway, so what Lorelei would have wanted was for something to live on, just as Luke soon demonstrates that he's perfectly willing to die for his friends to live on. This makes it something of an Either/Or Prophecy.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Both Luke and Tear say this repeatedly about the other, though everyone else knows better.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Zao Desert, though the resident dungeon is the Zao Ruins, which is more stone than sand, and Chesidonia is a thriving trade town on the border of Kimlasca and Malkuth.
  • Shout-Out: Typical for a Tales (series) game. Noteworthy examples are three of Anise's dolls being modeled after Cless, Philia, and Presea. Jade's belt buckle is Pac-Man. Nam Cobanda Island is full of Shout Outs to various Namco games. There is one replica in Daath who comments that "Zelos died," which is a possible way that Tales of Symphonia can end.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: An epic example at the end of the game. During the final confrontation with the Big Bad, each member of the party gets a turn at proving the villain wrong. They basically prove to Van that his logic is flawed, twisted, and ultimatly hypocritical. He then concedes that they may be right, but he has gone too far down this path to turn back, then weapons are drawn and the cool music starts. They overpower him and he is forced to resort to his One-Winged Angel form. The fight is hard, but midway through, the heroes note that Van is losing control of his power while the party shows no sign of stopping (storywise at least). Finally, they push him past his limit and are able to remove the source of his power and defeat him. To sum up, they essentially pick apart his logic and reasoning (through words then violence) and reveal him for what he is: a man whose hate ultimately made him him into the thing he hated; a slave to the Score. You could say that the entire final battle is one large, epic Shut UP, Hannibal.
    • Interestingly enough, Luke delivers the most prominate rebuttal just by simply being there and standing up to the Big Bad. He is also the one who pounds in the final nail by delivering the killing blow.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man After Luke's Important Haircut, he becomes a really Nice Guy, albeit with a much lower self-esteem. This is when Tear, for all her iciness, gradually falls in love with him.
  • Sinister Minister: Mohs
  • Sinister Scythe: Largo.
  • Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship: Oddly enough for a Tales game, it's played straight.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Sylvana continent, which the town of Keterburg is on. The trope is mostly present on Mt. Roneal, which does have some slippery ice.
  • Skill Slot System: How the characters level up and Capacity Cores.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Mieu. Lampshaded by Luke getting pissed off at his hyper-cutesy speech patterns the second he starts talking and calling him "Thing" for the first half of the game.
  • The Smart Guy: Jade.
  • Smug Snake: Grand Maestro Mohs.
    • Van has some of this as well, due to his his martial strength, and twisted conviction that he is doing the right thing. While he is not smug, he is somewhat arrogant. His defeat the first time at the hands of the party (particularly Luke) defiantly knocks him down a peg
  • Snow Means Love: During the first visit to Keterburg, the party stays at the inn and the girls talk about how romantic Keterburg is, with Ion included in the group, to further cement his status as a girl. Their options are rather limited because Luke is wondering around complaining about the cold (worring about his tummy frezing), Guy is scared of women, and Jade is, according to Ion, off walking the town with someone. (Presumably his sister, Nephry who previously thought he was dead.)
    • In fact, unlike the Tales' series normal Snow Means Love scene, Tales of the Abyss' takes place in a desert city.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The forest outside of Grand Chokmah is a section of forced stealth. Thankfully, though, if you screw up enough, you can just choose to fight the guards.
  • Spanner in the Works: Luke to the max.
  • Spoiler Opening: In the anime: Natalia joining the party, the fact that Van is a villain (implied by him showing up with other antagonists), Asch's face (he goes on as The Faceless for awhile in the show proper) and the fact that he and Luke have some kind of connection, and Luke's Important Haircut. And that's not even getting into the lyrics themselves...
    • The opening of the game is barely any better. Aside from showing that Natalia was a playable character, we see Luke switching between being short and longhaired.
    • The english manual is just as bad. It features Luke with short hair and depicted with the second Mystic Arte Lost Fon Drive shot. He's first introduced with long hair, but the Status Screen screenshots picture him with short hair and being called Luke Fone Fabre.
      • The japanese manual avoids all spoilers by having all the screenshots depicting Luke with long hair.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Dist the Rose Runny Reaper spends an awful lot of his time trying to get Jade's attention.
  • Stupid Good: Anise's parents.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dist pulls this by saying in his letter that the hoverdrive was certainly not in Keterberg by any means.
  • Sword Beam: Luke's second Mystic Arte, Lost Fon Drive, involves Luke slashing the enemy about eight or nine times and then firing a massive beam of fonons at the enemy.
  • Take a Third Option: The Score describes all Auldrant dissolving into miasma. There are various hints that Eldrant was Yulia's plan to allow a new world to live on instead of everyone dying. Auldrant will either be replaced by Eldrant or a big ball of miasma. Lorelei tells Luke that he never imagined Luke could find a way to prevent Auldrant's death.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Typical boss fights have a lot of banter that goes on even while the characters are hitting each other.
  • Team Pet: Mieu, though Luke is the one that technically "owns" him.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Nebilim's Fragmented End on higher difficulties. On Unknown, this Mystic Arte can hit for over 100,000 damage. The HP cap for each member of your party is only 9,999.
    • Naturally, Dist survives taking one of these in the face.
  • Title Drop: The bonus dungeon, Fomicry Research Facility The Abyss.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Anise, also Arietta.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Luke. Yes, really. Though it takes him till the last Quarter of the game.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate
  • Too Dumb to Live: Asch, who insists on not working with the party. Not only is pretty clear he could never take Van, but even when look at his stats as a boss, the other God-Generals are stronger then he is.
    • Well, while not taking advantage of the ridiculous amount of resources and skills that could be gained by joining a party made up of some of the highest ranking and most badass officials of the three global powers is pretty damn stupid, he did manage to clear a hard dungeon by himself while still injured from his battle against Van and thus save the day at the end of the Disc One Final Dungeon. Though a lot of the second half of the game could possibly have been cut out if he was able to just sit down and talk with Luke's party for a few hours. And the stat thing is probably an example of Gameplay and Story Segregation (like how anyone could survive Luke or Asch's Mystic Artes, which I believe is supposed to be a burst of hyperresonance, excepting possibly end-game Van or maybe one another), as by that point Luke should be around Jade's unsealed level in terms of combat skills according to one skit, and Jade was able to more or less oneshot Largo and easily hold Arietta hostage at the start of the game. Having a one-on-one battle against a Sync level boss would probably be a lot more annoying than entertaining when you don't have the rest of your party to whittle away at him and use healing magic. Besides, going by the damage he was causing in the game's opening, the fact that he was the protege of the most skilled fighter in the world, and has full control over his hyperresonance, then plotwise he's probably one of, if not THE strongest God-Generals. Though there's no excuse for him not learning at least some healing artes in the past seven years.
    • He was going to die anyway due to fonon separation, which was by no means his fault.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Luke's kidnapping. Subverted. Guy's gynophobia: Played straight.
  • Trauma Inn: For a good price (or rarely for free) your either party can be healed if they sleep there.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Luke's teacher, Van.
  • Truth in Television: When Tear confronts Luke about how his fonons are separating, Luke admits that he didn't want anyone to know because he thought that everyone would treat him differently. If you think about it...this is like people with terminal illnesses.
  • Uncanny Valley: A rare example of when this is invoked and more worked into the story. When the mass replicas show up, people are scared, freaked out, or otherwise disturbed because Anyone would be too if say, you were at your loved one's funeral and suddenly someone who looks and sounds exactly like them shows up speaking in a Creepy Monotone and without basic social skills and is clearly not them. While this isn't exactly a player reaction to it due to the game's heavily stylized graphics, it still fits the purpose of the Uncanny Valley because the replicas look just like their dead loved ones.
  • Underground Monkey: One of the worst offender, you will fight tons and tons of pallete swap bats, wolves, plants...
  • Updated Rerelease:
    • The NTSC-UC version of the game is this to the original JP version. During the conversion, the developers polished the whole game and added in several new features, including secret Mystic Artes for all the main characters.
    • The Nintendo 3DS version varies on how updated it is depending on region. In the Americas, it's pretty much the same game with modified graphics. For Europeans, Australians, or New Zealanders who imported the North American version due to having English as their main language or, in Europe's case outside the British Isles, having studied it as a second language, it would be the same case, though non-importers get to place it for the first time. The updates are a different experience to the Japanese than people from the United States and Canada -- the above was such a step up that the upcoming 3DS version is a localisation of the American version.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: While Tales of Symphonia was the first game in the series to have 3D battles, Abyss added free-range 3D running. The Nintendo 3DS version takes this a step further and adds stereoscopic 3D graphics.
    • Now the first game in the series to make the other leap into 3D
  • Waif Prophet: Ion often collapses whenever he uses his power.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Half the villains in the game. Van in particular: he is attempting to destroy the Score because he knows that it predicts the complete destruction of humanity, and since the people of Auldrant take the Score's word as law....
  • Wham! Episode: Several in the game, among them Luke's failed rescue attempt in Akzeriuth leading to it's destruction, finding out that Van had planned said failed attempt by manipulating Luke the entire time, Luke finding out he's nothing more than a replica that was supposed to be the scapegoat that had outlived it's usefulness once Akzeriuth was destroyed.
    • Tied together with Player Punch, there's also the helpful citizens of Sheridan and old folks that had given you the Albiore II being slaughtered. And that little boy who was floating on debris in the Qlipoth after Akzeriuth's destruction, stuck underneath his father's corpse and drowns in the miasma because your group can't rescue him in time. This game's point is to make you feel bad.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: If you're familiar with Friedrich Nietzsche, then you may think that the title has something to do with Nietzsche's famous quote about The Abyss, but it never really has any bearing on the game itself. Except with Van, who started to oppose the Score after being used to destroy Hod as an innocent child, and then does the exact same thing to Luke in order to advance his plans.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Luke after the events at Akzeriuth. Your Mileage May Vary on whether or not he actually deserved it.
  • The White Prince: Luke.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Guy's rampant gynophobia.
  • With Friends Like These...: Let's recap the truthworthiness of the party from the perspective of Luke by the time they reach Akzeriuth: a strange woman who tried to kill his beloved teacher and won't tell him why while openly working for and defending the honor of a guy who seems to have Big Bad written all over him, a smartass who constantly insults him, his best friend who trusts Van explictedly, a spacy kid, a creepy gold digger, a disliked childhood friend who literally blackmails her way into the party... That's not to mention that Guy was completely unaware that his best friend growing up was being used for horrific experiments and so much more.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: After a fonic glyph is used to grant Mohs the ability to control the seventh fonon despite not being a seventh fonist, things don't turn out quite right and he completely loses his mind.
  • Words Do Not Make the Magic: Even with knowing the Magical Incantation, Tear must also know the meaning of the verse to actually be able to use it.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Believed by most of the world. Although it emerges that it's possible to Screw Destiny, this later changes when it is revealed that everything is guided by the planet's memory. But by the end, they manage to Screw Destiny anyway. Another noteworthy example is that the Score said Fon Master Ion was supposed to die, and the original thought that creating copies would defy the Score. He was wrong.
    • On the other hand, Van unintentionally subverted this by creating Luke, who was supposed to take the original's place in dying at Akzeriuth. Both the original and the clone survived the incident, in contradiction to the Score. The party later points this out to Van in an attempt to convince him that the Score can be defeated, Van merely passed it off as an insignificant detail.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Said by Van, after he gets Luke to destroy Akzeriuth.
  • You Killed My Father: A Villainous example in Arietta.
  • Younger Than They Look: Luke looks (and is genetically) 15-17, has the mind of a 13 year old Bratty Half-Pint, and is chronologically 7 years old.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Tear makes Van vulnerable to the killing blow using a lullaby he taught her as a child.
    • Luke vs. Asch.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The part just before the Absorption Gate dungeon has "Ending" written all over it, you apparently kill the God-Generals, the Absorption Gate itself seems like The Very Definitely Final Dungeon... And then, when you're watching the supposedly final cutscene, you see a completely new area of the dungeon, with a treasure chest in it, just to make it clear that you're going to be able to go there. There's actually a bit of Foreshadowing if you look carefully - if you bring up the map in the Qlipoth, there's this area in a corner of the map that appears to have not sank into it. When you go there, you find that it's got a landmark that you can't enter yet. Even more apparent in the 3DS version, since the the map can be perpetually open on the bottom screen.
  1. Grand Chokhmah, St. Binah, Daath, Chesedonia, Hod, Keterburg, Malkuth, Qliphoth