Tales of Berseria is the latest entry in the long running Tales of franchise from Bandai Namco Games. It is the 16th entry in the franchise to be exact and while some of the more recent ones haven’t been the best examples of what makes this franchise great Tales of Berseria certainly will show you as it did me.
Tales of Berseria is basically an action JRPG set in the Holy Midgand Empire. The main character is Velvet Crowe is who is the first female main character in franchise history. The story of the game without going into spoilers is that something happens at the beginning of the game and Velvet sets out to get revenge for this incident. Velvet became such a likeable character early on for me as you understand where she is coming from. The voice performance for her is delivered strongly for her as well whether you prefer English or Japanese voices. You end up joining up with a full cast of characters that join you on this journey including Laphicet who is Velvet’s companion, Magilou who is a witch and more. All of them are interesting characters who have their own motives and feelings on things going on in this world. Tales of Berseria really has probably one of my favorite casts of characters in any of the recent Tales of games.
When it comes to the gameplay if you’ve played a Tales game before this will be pretty familiar but there are some changes. The arte combat system allows you to learn different artes and you can now have buttons tied to specific ones so that you can make your combos more effective and more varied. The camera system is better now too and I never had to fight with it to keep my characters in view. While fighting you can even pause the action so that you can more easily select your target. There is also something called a Soul Gauge that slowly depletes as you attack. To replenish it you have to wait on time or perform certain actions during fights. Having it full allows you to use a more powerful attack called your Break Soul. I was regularly pressing the button to perform this not only because it is a strong attack but they look cool and the dialogue spoken by Velvet is pretty bad ass while doing so. While the combat system is fun it took me awhile to wrap my head around everything. The game is constantly throwing tutorials up teaching you new things even after hours of playing. Trying to remember all of the different systems is hard but once you do it really shines. Should you forget how to do something you can pull up the Help menu to refresh your memory.
The world is fun to explore as well with lots of different things to do. There is the main story of course but there are people to converse with, side quests to undertake and more. You can kill a lot of time just exploring around on your own. Enemies show up in the world and to fight you just run into them. If you don’t want to fight you can run away but they will chase you for quite awhile. Other things you can do in the game include obtaining different costumes for your characters to wear. You can also find recipes in the world that allow you to cook which in turn allows you to boost your stats before you go into a fight. There are also expeditions that you can send a ship out to undertake that will reward you with all kinds of goods when they come back. Suffice to say Tales of Berseria gives you plenty to do with your time. The only downside to the layout of the game is that it was a little more linear then I hoped. It’s not a grand open world game and while there times you can explore you always come back to the main path the game wants you on.
The visuals in the game stick to the colorful art style the franchise has become known for but it isn’t the best use of the PS4’s power. While the game wasn’t released on the PS3 here it was in Japan and the game is clearly held back by it. There are moments of pop in in the game and the world in general isn’t the most detailed. Still the characters themselves are the highlight with great detail given to each one. That along with the already great writing and voice performances for them just further makes the characters the standout piece of this game.
Tales of Berseria is a fantastically written JRPG that delivers a deep, emotional story that kept me going until the end. Velvet along with all of the other characters her are some of the best written ones in recent Tales of games memory. The game really made me care about them with great emotional moments but also moments of laughter as well. The game also doesn’t require you to have played ones before it so if you have never played a Tales of game before and were interested in jumping in Tales of Berseria is the perfect point of entry.