You play as Luke Fabre, a duke to the kingdom of Kimlasca, born into nobility who has lived a sheltered life, you find out early on that he was kidnapped when he was younger, and as a result he only remembers the past 7 years of his life. While amnesia is typically used to explain gameplay features within the narrative, its effect on Luke is a driving aspect of the plot. It renders him foolish, vulnerable, and easily manipulated. Each member of ToA's cast has their own issue. No one, heroic or villainous, is what they appear to be.
Luke's growth throughout the story is interesting, and breaks a lot of common RPG cliches and tropes. He starts off arrogant and rather self-centered but you do see some interesting changes with his character throughout the story as various events unfold.
The game also centers itself around a philosophy, in which your destiny is sort of vaguely determined at birth, this is followed by the majority of the games citizens without anyone questioning its validity. It leads to some interesting plot points, especially if following it truly brings peace or not.
The basic plot is mostly stopping a war between the two major countries, however, more serious things are happening behind the scenes which threatens virtually every living thing.
Most of the game is spent traveling from town to town, killing most things along the way. Combat is one of key points to a Tales of game, they're fast paced and are very entertaining, most of the time you'll find yourself wandering towards enemies to fight. Each character is unique, and play rather differently. With the C-Cores and AD Skills, which you gain by levelling, you can change which skills you get earn during the game, leaving plenty of interesting options available.
Tales of the Abyss is an amazing RPG, a must buy for any 3DS owner. It's story is a clever deconstruction of ideas used in countless other RPGs. The combat is engaging enough without being repetitive. The side quests are a welcomed edition, none feeling out of place to pad the game, adding to an already lengthy game. This port may not take full advantage of the 3DS, many menus are not touch screen compatible and the transition to 3D can make it look a little dated at times. Despite that, this is still arguably one of the best RPGs on this handheld easily.