The tales series has a come a long way since the days of the beloved “Tales of Symphonia”. There have been a plethora of changes in the gameplay mechanics, including the transition from 2D/2.5D to 3D and support for higher resolutions, but at the same time some of the recent entries have drawn some flak, both from fans as well as critics (Zestiria, I’m looking at you). Now Bandai Namco is out with Tales of Berseria.
Tales of Berseria
Tales Of Berseria is the 16th major entry in the tales franchise, based in the same world as Zestiria, several centuries ago. And it does help a bit if you’ve played Zestiria cos’ certain characters from it make appearances in Berseria and some of its core mysteries are unraveled.
“Why do you think it is that birds fly?”
Plot and Characters
Tales of Berseria takes on a much darker tone than its predecessors. Instead of the regular, “We are gonna save the world” cliche, it uses a much more bleak, “Screw the world, we are gonna kill the guy who saved it” formula. In Berseria, you are the Lord of Calamity, the one who terrorizes citizens, devours children and is trying to destroy the world, or at least that is what the common folk believe. But yeah, it is a much appreciated and refreshing change.
The story follows Velvet, who starts off as a normal village girl. She lives with with her younger brother, Laphicet and late-sister’s husband, Arthur. However, not all is well and good. A disease known as the demon-blight is spreading, turning people into demons and there is no cure except death.
One night Velvet’s world is turned upside down, when Arthur claiming that it was the only way to tackle the demon-blight, sacrifices her brother Laphicet in a ritual. She herself, is turned into a demon as she tries to save him. However, instead of finishing her off, Arthur has her captured, forcing her to feed on other demons for her very survival. After three years of captivity, she is freed by an unexpected allay. Now, she’s out for blood and will use everyone and everything she can to further her quest for revenge.
As far as the story and the characters go, Berseria really gets it right. Zestiria’s story was judged as slow paced and boring, and its characters were called generic and uninspired. In Tales of Berseria, the story is dark with its fair-share of twists and surprises .
The entire cast of Zestiria was comprised of a bunch of kids trying to save everyone and purify the world. As far as Berseria goes, you will be dealing will an unorthodox party consisting of demons, pirates, a witch and an exorcist, who will do anything and everything to make their own ends meet, including taking lives, destroying settlements and even each other.
The inclusion of Laphicet in a party of fugitives makes for some interesting dialogs. On one hand, you’ll have Magilou taking undue advantage of his innocence, trying to scare and spoil him and on the other, Elenor and Velvet, who try to keep him in line. Eizen and Rokorou try to teach him a thing or two about “being a man” and “women and their devious traps”, just to confuse the poor kid even more.
Gameplay and Combat
Tales of Berseria uses the same engine as Zestiria. The controls and interface feel largely the same. However, the combat has been significantly improved. Armatization is gone and instead of the spirit guage (SC), you have souls. At the beginning of each battle, you have 3 souls. Getting stunned or receiving a status eats up a soul, while doing the same to an enemy or better yet killing one grants you one.
Armatization has been replaced by therion form in which Velvet starts screaming and wrecking havoc on the enemies with her demon-talon. It increases the damage dealt and grants a bonus. One thing you need to know about the therion form is that the HP keeps on draining till its reduced to 1, as long as the form is maintained. So you might wanna do your thing and return back to normal as fast as possible.
Another notable and welcome change to the combat is the ability to change the arte assigned to each-combo slot. Now you can mix and match any one of the arte into a devastating combo, targeting the target’s weakness. The mystic artes are still there to take on the toughest of enemies and get you out of tight spots. The strategy column too has been improved, now allowing the non-controlled characters’ to fulfill various roles, like interrupting enemy artes, healing, engaging the strongest or weaker enemies.
The game world itself is composed of 3-4 diverse continents, each having its own distinct terrain and “resident wildlife”. You travel between them using your pirate ship, the Van Eltia. Fast travel is still there, however this time around its done by consuming certain potions which are available at all the shops, 400 gald for each. A bit pricey, right. Like Assassins’ Creed you can also send out a scout ship for… well, scouting and finding treasures.
For honing your combat skills, there are small islands know as level 4 administrative zones. Each of these, you can test your combat skills against one particular kind of demons- armored, fiends, reptilian, etc. Furthermore, each region has one or two unique bosses, defeating whom will require quite a bit of strategy depending upon the difficulty you are playing on. You can also collect bounties for killing them, referred to in-game, as code-red demon hunts.
It took me about 70-80 hours to fully complete the game, including every demon hunt, side quest and demon island… and I can say one thing for sure, Tales of Berseria is the best Tales’ game since Symphonia and it definitely makes up for the shortcoming of Zestiria. There was not a single dull moment. While the immersive story and dialogs make sure that the player’s interest stays piqued, the simple yet challenging combat makes you do a fair amount of experimenting.
Expands the lore of Zestiria
Provides more insight into certain NPCs from Zestiria
The protagonist isn’t exactly likeble
Sidequests require a fair bit of backtracking