If there is one word that generally defines the Tales series, it’s consistent. I rarely play one and feel like I’m playing a cutting edge JRPG. Usually it feels a few years behind, but well crafted, like in the recent Tales of Zestria where were battles in the open world as opposed to a battle screen, many years after it became relatively common place. What Tales does is make great jobs of these games, with cheery stories that are a delight to play. Tales of Berseria is solid in the same way, but it has shuffled up the tone a smidge.
For the first hour or two of the game, Tales of Berseria feels like a Tales game. Life isn’t perfect for Velvet, the protagonist, but she is a bright and cheery part of her family and community. All seems normal for a Tales game, then suddenly out of nowhere it starts getting darker and then it drastically changes, going to the dark place I couldn’t have guessed the series would ever go.
The story is interesting so I won’t spoil it, but the general idea can be gained from the very early stages where there is an issue with daemon blight going around. Violet tries to help her brother who is infected, when a red moon occurs and the village is overrun with Demons. Violet goes hunting for her young brother only to discover him being sacrificed to appease the demons.
Violet tries to save him and finds herself being betrayed by her father figure and gains a Demon arm that looks like a slightly different coloured God Eater arm, from the series God Eater. She is imprisoned and fed others, whom she consumes with her freaky demon arm until one day she is set free.
The first two hours of the game, post the initial happier stage, is by far the darkest in the Tales series and Violet never becomes much cheerier. The game regularly, through her actions or her team mates, make actions that regularly cross from one side of the line of conscience to the other and you never feel that Violet is bad even if some of the things she does seems like it.There is some light in the story, but for the most part it’s very dark during the time you spend with her. As much as I have loved the series for what it has been to date, I think this sudden change has made it that much better.
The gameplay returns to encountering enemies in the world and fighting them on battle screens which is definitely preferable. For the most part the battles look and act like a usual Tales game. The major exception is it uses a Soul Gauge which determines how frequently you can attack. When your soul gauge depletes you lose a lot of advantages, not limited to your attacks which become easier for the enemies to dodge. The Soul Gauge automatically refills so a good strategy can avoid an empty Soul Gauge, which I failed at many times.
Aesthetically it is a great looking Tales game and a significant improvement, but only a good looking game in comparison to other recent titles. The Tales games have never been the best looking games so that’s no real surprise, but if you are expecting Final Fantasy XV looks you will be disappointed. The voice acting on the other hand was much better than expected. It’s not exactly amazing, but for an JRPG including some AAA titles, the voice acting was surprisingly solid.
If you have played and enjoyed a Tales game before, grab your Apple Gels and enjoy the latest entry in the series, as it does more, with a better story than ever. If you haven’t but are interested in JRPG’s I recommend a look at Tales of Berseria as its story and gameplay is worth the time.
Released: February 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: JRPG, Action
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