Tales of the Abyss is the 8th game in Namco's 'Tales' series, and shares many characteristics of its predecessors. Gameplay is fairly standard for an RPG, with players alternating between visiting towns and exploring dangerous areas. Combat uses an updated version of the series's real-time battle system. The player controls one hero of his choice, and can switch on the fly, while the AI controls the other 2. Each character can be customized with different attacks, and special moves can be chained together to produce combos. Customization is also done through 'capacity cores', which give bonuses at each level increase when equipped, and 'AD skills', a large list of passive abilities that can be learned and set for use.
The story revolves around the protagonist, Luke fon Fabre, and Tear Grants, a reserved young woman with whom he is thrown into an adventure. Luke is from a high-ranking noble family in the nation of Kimlasca, and is directly related to the king. He was kidnapped 7 years before the story begins, and although he was rescued, the experience cost him all memories of his childhood. Since then, Luke has been confined to his family's estate in the city, visited only by them, servants, his teacher Master Van, and his good friend Guy. When he meets Tear, though, he is forced into the outside world and has to deal with a brewing war and a secretive religious organization bent on guiding the world down a preordained path.
Similar to past entries, the story is further developed by optional extra scenes or 'skits' where the characters converse with each other. This version of the game also has a fully-developed economy with fluctuating prices and bonuses available on multiple play-throughs.