As a massive “Tales” series fanboy, I was really looking forwards to getting my hands on Tales Of Berseria; I was excited enough to ignore all the marketing for this one and go in blind – The small amount I did see promised that Tales Of Berseria had “Changed the Formula” completely and it was the biggest game in years!
Whilst all of this is certainly true… Is it any good?
That is not to say that I achieved the insurmountable task of going into this game completely blind, I was made aware of a few details over the past few months that did interest me before playing; for example I learned that this entry takes place in the past of Tales Of Zestiria and that the villain of Tales of Berseria is a Shepherd (much like Sorey from Zestiria), whilst you played as Velvet who was a Daemon seen as the villains of Zestiria, this made me very excited.
So without further ado, let me tell you a bit more about my experience with Tales Of Berseria!
*Slight spoilers of the first few hours ahead*
As said above, in Tales of Berseria you play as Velvet, a Daemon who is out for revenge on Arthur, the leader of the Exorcists & the Shepherd, for killing her brother, turning her into a Daemon and throwing her into a pit. This is the most basic synopsis of the game I can provide to you without spoiling any major plot points or revealing anything that would ruin much of the game’s charm.
I personally found the story to be a delightful reshuffle of classic JRPG tropes which usually have such a strong focus on a simple “Light VS Dark” storyline; the story of Tales of Berseria is much more complex, and whilst it does start as a simple tale of revenge, it escalates into much, much more than this around the 10 hour mark – Exactly where it really begins to feel that Tales of Berseria taps into the full potential of it’s namesake and story.
One of the typical JRPG tropes that this entry does fall into, however, is that I REALLY don’t like Velvet as a protagonist. What I mean by this being a trope is I have not liked a single protagonist of any JRPG I have played in the last 10 years (Jude from Xillia being the exception to the rule), as I typically find that they either fall into one of two categories of being a massive whiney little a-hole or a bit too broody and try-hard dark, of which Velvet falls into the latter. This isn’t to say that all the characters are bad in Tales Of Berseria though, far from it, as Rokurou and Eizen have proven to be two of my favourite characters from any video game in the past few years, the first being a samurai war daemon who is also out for revenge (Though why is drip fed and left mysterious and ambiguous for much of the game) whilst Eizen is a pirate spirit who has exceptionally bad luck.
I found that the character interactions between the sub characters were some of the best character building exercises I have seen, and show that the “Tales Of” skit formula is still a strong way to increase our love (or hate) for specific characters.
As expected, the gameplay is where the biggest changes have been made to the formula of the 16th title in the Tales series and, whilst this did take me around 4 hours to really appreciate, I can safely say that I believe this to be the best combat system of any Tales game in recent memory (And I have a cracking memory)!
The biggest notable difference to the battle system comes with the SG system, a system built around gaining advantages on your enemies so that you can perform more actions in a combo. The way this works is that, as default, you start with 3 crystals in your meter that allow you to perform 3 moves in a combo as standard but hitting an enemy into a stun or outright killing an enemy increases this by 1 allowing you to perform more actions in a combo. There is a catch to this, as putting Velvet into her “limit break” (Yes I am aware that isn’t what it is called, but most people understand what Limit Breaks are) will take away one of your crystals and give it to the enemy allowing them to hit you and extra time, opening up a bit more of a tactical way of thinking about combat in Tales of Berseria instead of the usual “Spam special moves” strategy we are so used to.
The trade off for this is that you can essentially put Velvet into this mode then use a AOE special attack that can take out a handful of enemies increasing the Soul Gauge back up again, however whilst you are in this mode you are constantly losing health so you really need to think when is best to use this mode, particularly in hunts or boss fights, this really forces you to think about how to battle and not just spam specials at the enemies, introducing a new level of difficulty and tactics in the latter hours of the game.
Another element to the battles I always likes on this was the ability to learn the master skills from certain pieces of equipment that you pick up along the way, forcing you to constantly change out equipment in order to learn these skills, often taking a gamble on a really bad piece of equipment in order to learn some of the best master skills the game has to offer – This was a really nice way to force people not to rely on one set of armour or weapons. With this, you are CONSTANTLY picking up weapons from enemies that you can either sell or dismantle into random pieces of tat – All of which are used to upgrade weaponry and armour, unlocking the full potential of some items.
Alongside all of this, there are a huge amount of minigames in Tales Of Berseria, ranging from waiting tables in a restaurant to bursting balloons right up to a classic monster arena that, refreshingly, comes with items and equipment that you actually want including weapons and costumes.
Appearance, Setting & Music
The music in Tales Of Berseria is great, I have listened to the soundtrack a few times from YouTube with the theme song being particularly easy listening, catchy and upbeat:
Unfortunately, whilst this is heralded as the first true PS4 Tales title, this is not reflected very well graphically in the characters or world maps, often not buffering full outfits or areas of the map. This is an exceptional shame because the anime sequences (as usual) are just beautifully animated which comes across nicely in the skits – making it that bit more jarring in cut scenes that take place in the games main engine.
The towns in Berseria feel more alive than ever though, with increasingly more people having interesting things to say to, or more likely, about Velvet and her band of rag tag individuals.
Some of the best combat I have ever played in a JRPG with a nice re-jig of the classic JRPG storyline that is just slightly let down by an unlikeable protagonist, but is quickly saved by incredible sub characters.
Best combat of ANY tales game with a decent story and EXCELLENT sub characters.