Ha, Kojima is such a weirdo sometimes. I wish he'd just own up to it. I'm okay with you dressing your serious emotional character in a bra and ripped up pantyhose, I guess, just don't act like it's anything but weirdo pandering. That's the point where it becomes aggravating.
I can't say I have any hard requirements, but the last JRPG I played, Bravely Default, helped me sort out my priorities a bit.
I mean, in that game, the story is whatever, and near the end became actively detrimental to my experience. However, I soldiered on because I loved the feeling of ownership over my party. They gave me enough flexibility within its game systems that I felt like I was playing my way. I really enjoy it when RPGs emphasize deep party-building.
There's just so much crossover, thematically. I've played 3 Tales games, and it was the same environmentalism parable every time, with minor variations in the jargon.
That said, I'd probably recommend Abyss. If you're into the Tales style, then Abyss does a good job of getting you personally invested in its characters. Just have your smartphone handy whenever they start babbling about their dumb magitech.