It’s that time again, another Tales of game has been released, Tales of Berseria is the latest in a long line of JRPG’s going back to 1995 with more than 30 titles that carry the famed name, multiple anime series and an annual festival in Japan.
It’s always a great time when a Tales of game and Tales of Berseria thankfully continues that trend. There are however chinks in the armour now that inevitably comes from a series that is so long lived.
Tales of Berseria is possibly the darkest Tales game in the series to date; it follows Velvet Crowe (the first female lead in the Tales of series) who is on a journey of vengeance against the man that ripped everything good in her life away from her. She is joined on this odyssey by a motley crew of misfits that all have some stake in taking down this supposed messiah and his newly founded church. It’s a fascinating flip from Tales of Zestiria which saw the church and our previous protagonist Sorey as a hero. In Tales of Berseria, we see the side of the outsiders, who don’t follow the church so blindly and know there is more than meets the eye in this situation. The story is easily the best part of Tales of Berseria, from the humans, malakhim and daemons who fill the world of Desolation, that is seriously the name of the world, their motivations and their relationships Tales of Berseria sets a high standard of characterisation in its story. What was interesting was that not all of the frightening daemons are evil, and not all of the angelic malakhim are as virtuous as you are led to believe.
As with all Tales of games Tales of Berseria is also a long endeavour, clocking in at over 80+ plus hours when you factor in the multiple side quests and challenges that litter the game. This is a staple of the Tales series and the only comment to make on it is if they didn’t have it as part of this game I’d be disappointed.
It is here that the problems of Tales of Berseria start to creep in. The battle system is the usual affair with a few new features thrown in. Suffice to say if you’ve played any previous Tales of games you will feel right at home here. The main changes are the use of “Souls” that denote the length of your combo’s and the damage you deal through them. Enemies also have souls and depending on who has more souls designates the damage inflicted between the combatants. There are also ways to increase your personal souls and decrease the enemies adding an element of strategy to each battle. The biggest combat element is the “Break Souls” ability that initiates a special attack unique to each character in the game. Velvet wields her daemonic claw that allows her to feast on enemies, Rokorou wields a combination of artes and weaponry that deal massive damage. A particular favourite of mine is Eizen, a mysterious malakhim pirate who transforms into a dark, monstrous figure at the end of a combo and deals heavy damage to all around him.
On the aesthetic side of Tales of Berseria, it is a visually sumptuous experience. Vibrant colours, wonderfully designed characters and locales, unfortunately, the graphics have still not taken a significant jump. Tales of Berseria is a PlayStation 4 title, and yet still it looks like a PlayStation 3 title. It is almost as if the developers are comfortable keeping the series where it is right now. Yes the stories being told are evolving, and the characters are always engaging, but technically the series needs to step it up as the series heads into the future.
Tales of Berseria is a fantastic edition to a much-beloved series. Velvet and her crew are irresistible, and the world of Desolation is an interesting and bewitching one. Possibly one of the best in the series. Technical issues and a sense of complacency in parts sadly keep it from that perfect score.