Tales of Illyria: Destinies is set 20 years after the events of the second game, where Vasena forged an uneasy peace with the lands of Illyria.
A lot has changed in the intervening years, but your primary focus this time is on completing jobs for the fighter and mage guilds. Once you've increased your reputation with the kingdom they serve, the kingdom itself will offer you jobs.
It's an interesting change, and one that makes sense given the lore of the game. However, it fails to result in compelling gameplay.
Before you had an intriguing plot driving you forward. Now you have dull jobs that largely involve you travelling from town to town and having conversations.
The intention of this focus switch was likely to give you the freedom to explore Illyria at your whim, rather than be forced to go where the plot drives you.
If anything the change has done the opposite. You have to complete jobs in the kingdom whose reputation you want to increase, so you're forced to go back and forth between the same few towns.Sequel or expansion pack?
Other than that, very little has changed. You'll still spend most of your time trudging around, mercilessly tapping on all plants and wildlife you come across.
Events pop up from time to time that test your morality, throw you into a combat situation, or are purely scenic in nature.
While there are plenty of new ones, an alarming number of recycled events from previous games will pop up too, breaking the immersion that 20 years have passed.
The ugly visuals, awkward animation, and terrible performance also make a disappointing return.
Tales of Illyria has some stiff competition, most notably the beautifully animated The Banner Saga, which offers a very similar experience but on a much grander scale. This is not a time for the developer to be resting on its laurels.
Combat remains unchanged, though it was already pretty decent. The UI, on the other hand, has needed improvement since the very first game.
A simple action like equipping an item, increasing your stats, or checking on your provisions requires too many taps.
The writing has always had its ups and downs but it's never felt so uninspired before. Where once events offered compelling decisions or thought-provoking moments, here they're largely treading old ground, are as dull as watching a cow in a field, or are awkwardly trying satire.
Also, when a talking dog in a medieval setting refers to you as 'pal' and 'buddy' it leaves you speechless for all of the wrong reasons.Destinies
Perhaps Tales of Illyria: Destinies is best played by those who've yet to enter the lands of Illyria. All of the old content will be fresh for them, and the few improvements like fast travel by ship, easier access to gold via jobs, and more freedom will be appreciated.
Unfortunately, there's just no reason for returning players to make the trek back through Illyria. The once ambitious series feels like it's stagnated. Badly.
The Tales of Illyria franchise was in need of some drastic improvements following a sequel that failed to build on the original.
Instead, we're served up a watered-down version of what's come before. It's a shame, because Tales of Illyria at its best is genuinely compelling.
But Destinies doesn't manage to capture enough of that, and it means the series can't keep up with its contemporaries.