Tales of Luminaria, the review of the new mobile RPG on the Bandai Namco series

Tales of Luminaria once again brings Bandai Namco’s famous RPG series to mobile platforms, in a “vertical” gacha format.

Accompanying the relaunch of the major series, comes the inevitable mobile episode by Bandai Namco, which we will analyze in this review of Tales of Luminaria. This is a mobile RPG with elements gacha, for a change, which complements Tales of Arise in an attempt to restore luster to the historic Japanese series, with results so far very impressive, with regard to the chapter for PC and consoles.

We have seen how the big Japanese publishers tend to rely a bit ‘too often to the same structure for their mobile games, often applying the minimum effort and focusing on the charisma of characters and stories, but in this case we detect at least a certain commitment to the desire to propose something new, even if only in terms of visualization and controls. This does not involve substantial changes in the game mechanism, which is always a very driven action RPG and focused on various characters, but offers several variations on the theme very interesting.

The cast is composed of 21 main characters who alternate as protagonists on the scene, each with their own chapter to complete, which is already a particular solution, considering also the diversity of backgrounds and characteristics that emerge for each protagonist, all well characterized from the point of view of design and with a certain narrative support.

The idea of 21 characters all to deepen, with the possibility that they have the narrative lines intertwined with each other then converge in a choral story is really very fascinating and the stories are also well written, enough to convince us to go on from chapter to chapter. The story of Tales of Luminaria is therefore composed of this sort of anthology, with chapters each dedicated to one or more characters included in the world of the series Bandai Namco, to be completed to receive rewards. Leveraging on the charisma of the members of the large cast, the game offers a considerable alternation of narrative elements, environments and situations, even if the gameplay is always the same.

A vertical RPG

Tales of Luminaria, a mixture of interlude scenes and gameplay

There is a single solution adopted by Tales of Luminaria that affects the presentation, but also the gameplay and the enjoyment of the game itself: the use of the vertical screen. This is an original choice and questionable in many ways, but it is very functional, since it allows control on the fly with the use of one hand, with all the commands concentrated on a single touch. This particular graphical layout is evident from the start screen, with an interface that is – for once – really different from all the other typical RPG Gacha. Tales of Luminaria features options arranged on vertical tiles that fill the space in a simple and elegant way, although this organization may seem a bit confusing and disorienting at first. Priority, or newer, content is arranged at the top, and from this screen you access the game’s various chapters, customization options, and gacha-style summons.

The gameplay is that of the action RPG hack and slash “scrolling”, you could call it, greatly simplified by the use of a few buttons on the screen: even here the vertical arrangement determines, as a consequence, the strange central position of the only button that serves both to move the character and to attack, with additional virtual buttons dedicated to special moves with their specific effects for each character. Each chapter presents a different story and character, which also differ in fighting style and personality: we find short-range fighters, archers and mages, each with their own approach to battle reflected in ranged or contact attacks, but in each case it’s a matter of pressing the center button to strike, moving using it as a virtual analog or tapping it in short quick movements to make dodges without thinking too much, minding the cooldown of special moves and little else.

Tales of Luminaria, characters and fights in images

The portrait-type framing allows you to hold your smartphone in one hand and play at virtually any time, but it also brings with it poor visibility, which is exacerbated by the fixed framing. In general, the game makes sure to accommodate this particular cut as much as possible, but the battlefield tends to stretch wide and this creates numerous blind spots even during combat. It’s a shame because, otherwise, the graphics are very well done both in the anime-style interlude scenes and in the game phases, with scenery that flows nicely during the exploration and dialogue between characters, but it’s hard to always have a clear view of what’s around the protagonists. In all this, the soundtrack takes up fully the style of the series while of considerable quality are the dialogues, virtually constant between the characters even during the game action, of course all in English (with English texts, there is no Italian).

The gacha element of Tales of Luminaria is dedicated exclusively to clothes, equipment and weapons, since the characters are an integral part of the story and are provided with the release of the various episodes. Therefore, there are no standard combat evocations with different rarity, but the same principle is applied to all items to equip, which consequently can not be conquered in the game in any other way. The system is apparently more concessive towards those who do not intend to resort to micro-transactions, however, it should be noted that the use of gacha is still essential to have weapons and equipment needed to continue in the game. Consequently, the possible need or willingness to resort to micro-transactions remains virtually unchanged, although probably the pressure is less, since these are less important items than the characters, which are provided automatically by the game.


With Tales of Luminaria, Bandai Namco wanted to try something different in mobile RPGs with gacha elements, and this is already something interesting, in a genre that has been stuck on the same dynamics for years. Mainly it’s its composite narrative that interests us, with each chapter referring to a specific character and the prospect that all the different lines will then intertwine into a complex choral storyline, all with the usual excellent anime style that is typical of the series. The choice of vertical framing is interesting and has some advantages in terms of convenience of use on smartphones, but the fixed camera prevents you from always having a clear view, and it’s a shame even considering the pleasant environments. The gacha system applied to elements outside the characters may also seem fairer and less pushy, though it still carries with it the usual nasty consequences in the long run. In general, the innovations introduced have obvious flaws, but overall still bring it to stand out in the flood of similar titles.


  • Interesting characters and stories that drive you forward
  • Aesthetically pleasing in every aspect: interface, scenery, characters and audio
  • There is a certain comfort in the one-handed setting
  • Fixed vertical framing causes poor visibility and confusion
  • Overly simplified combat system
  • The gacha is less pressing than elsewhere, but still necessary
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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