I said there would be one other post last week but sadly I could not make it work. However, that’s mainly due to the topic of said post. You may be asking yourself “how could writing this take so long?” Well good reader, the game we are going to talk about is the culprit.
Today, I’m going to review the newest main entry in the Tales of Series: Tales of Berseria for the PS4. This entry is a distant prequel to the previous entry in the series; Tales of Zestiria. Some characters, locations, and plot elements can be found in both games but Berseria can be easily played without having played Zestiria previously. Now, I will admit that I had some hesitations going into Berseria. It’s not a secret that Zestiria was not the greatest Tales game (although I do like it more than how the majority of the fan base seems to feel about it.) I can happily say that Berseria is a much better game in several areas and as we will see later on in the review, it even helps make Zestiria a better game. Let’s delve right in!
Evil With Heart
The biggest improvement by far to the game is the story. It was extremely refreshing to play as a group of morally gray people. I tend to play games as the good guys whenever given a choice and I don’t play many games where your character is evil. I don’t avoid those types of games on purpose however. Therefore, having the main characters be the human personification of revenge and sin was a new and interesting take on a fantasy story. Without too many spoilers (as my style seems to be), there is the main character Velvet, who gains a dark power after a traumatizing event occurs. Through her adventures, she gains a ragtag group of companions. A demon swordsman, a devious witch, a pirate, an exorcist (aka a lawful warrior), and a young former slave make for a great dynamic. All of the main cast have their own quirks and goals and at first you might not see how they could work well together but by the final battle, you feel a strong connection with them all. The side characters and antagonists are great as well. If I had to point to the weakest group, it would be the antagonists though. There was not much time with each of the different enemies so when it was time to defeat them, it did not hold much weight to it. A point that should not be overlooked is that Velvet is the first solo female protagonist in the series. Traditionally, the female protagonist would be paired up with a male counterpart but Velvet needs no man. She is a badass lady who kneels down to no one. Since we are talking about the story, we can’t forget about the VAs. I played the game entirely with the English VA and I was not disappointed. All of the cast did a great job at portraying their characters (props to Velvet’s VA for being able to portray pure vengeance with nuance!) Looking back now, I should have played a portion of it in Japanese but if its the same VAs from the Tales of Zestiria anime, then it its safe to say its good.
Full Of Power
Another area where Berseria improved upon its predecessor is the game systems. First up is the upgrading/powering up system. Zestiria’s system was…. excuse my french:
It was a convoluted mess that complicated the game for no reason. Even the tutorials did not know how to properly explain it. Evidently the developers heard the feedback and decided to dial it down. Berseria’s system is easier and lets your feel your characters grow stronger throughout the game. Each piece of equipment has a skill that can be learned permanently if equipped for long enough. Once you have “mastered” that piece of equipment, you can move on to another piece and learn its master skill. While that might seem almost too simplistic, it allows you to focus more on the combat system. Speaking of which, I have mixed emotions on the combat system in Berseria. The battle system was simplified as well by setting your different attacks to the four face buttons on the controller and how many times you pressed them. I really enjoyed the Break Soul system and how easy it is to perform Mystic Artes in Berseria. However, I enjoyed the ability to combine and split characters in Zestiria but due to plot points, they could not implement that part of Zestiria’s battle system. Overall, the battle system certainly had improvements but for my style of play, I did miss some aspects of Zestiria. Before we move on, I want to mention the graphics. They are largely the same as Zestiria but several moments in the game, I was stricken by what I was seeing. Either the developers did minor improvements to the graphics engine or lighting because it did look better. Hopefully, the next game in the series improves the graphics even more.
Making A World That We Care About
The last big area of improvement was the world building. In my opinion, this actually makes Zestiria a better game. By playing Berseria, you get great world building and character background that makes you look at the events of Zestiria in a different light. Now I don’t know if you will have the same experience if you play Berseria first. Perhaps you will overlook the large flaws in Zestiria due to Berseria’s wonderful world building. On the other hand, you might be effected by these flaws even more than if you played Zestiria first. Once I finished the main story, I had a pretty strong urge to play through Zestiria again and see what new connections I could find. I don’t know about you but if a game can make me want to replay another game that takes a minimum of 50 hours to complete, then its doing something right.
Tales of Berseria is one of the strongest entries to the series in recent years. The refreshing story, improved game systems, and fleshing out of the game world comes together to make a cohesive and enjoyable experience. If you have never played a Tales game before then this is a great game to start with. For veteran players, it gives enough twists and new systems to keep your interest (and numerous easter eggs, my favourite being a series of fights with two former protagonists.) I won’t be giving scores in my reviews because they are subjective and hold no real value. Instead, I will give a rating of if you should play it or not. I give Tales of Berseria: