It feels like ages since I’ve played a JRPG game this good.

Tales of Berseria is a game that will be remembered most for its wonderful story. It features the tale of a woman bent on revenge, whose emotional journey leads her down a path of heartbreak and condemnation. Velvet is an anti-heroine, and very unlike other Tales protagonists.

Berseria’s cast is the strongest in the series of the games I have played. There’s the aforementioned Velvet, who seemingly lacks any warmth and is hellbent on vengeance. Her other companions each have engaging stories and strong motivation in joining her fight. Eizen is a pirate searching for his captain. Rokurou is a demon with a strong sense of duty. Eleanor is an exorcist who wants to know the truth of her world. Laphicet is a malakhim who wants to support Velvet. And Magilou is a seemingly detached witch who is simply along for the journey. Every character in Berseria has a different story, and they all share a common goal.

What separates Berseria from other JRPGs is just how emotional it can be. The game has no shortage of funny moments. Magilou is the main comedic relief, with her jokes being a highlight of the game and providing for many of its laughs. Eizen in particular has a skit where he really, really wants to construct an underground tunnel, and his conviction is so ridiculous you can’t help but smile. It’s moments like these that make you fall in love with the game’s characters, and they make it so much more painful when the story takes its tragic turns.

Berseria has no shortage of conflict and tragedy. The game had me feeling empathetic for Velvet within its first hour, a feat that not many games seem able to accomplish. It consistently maintains this method of emotional storytelling throughout. The cast conflicts, clashes, and bonds with each other. At its core, Berseria is defined by its memorable characters and story that will stay with you well after you complete it.

The game’s combat system is similar to past titles. New mechanics include the Soul Gauge, which allows you to activate special moves called Break Souls. The core gameplay loop essentially consists of using artes, amassing souls, and activating Break Souls in order to use stronger artes and do large amounts of damage. I found this combat very fun and far more engaging compared to Zestiria’s. The only real mechanic I found lacking were the Switch Blasts, which I rarely ever used as they seemed to be a waste of a Blast Gauge (which I could just use to perform a Mystic Arte).

In terms of presentation, Berseria does an excellent job. The menus are very intuitive and easy to navigate. Player records, stats, and equipment are cleanly displayed. The ability to swap out artes during battles and map them to specific PS4 hotkeys is very user-friendly.

I played through this game with Japanese voices, and Berseria’s cast was exceptional. Rina Sato, who voices Velvet, has done a phenomenal job. Her happiness sounds sincere, while her anger can truly terrify you. Sato truly stands out in a game with great voice work.

To me, the music is a little underwhelming. I loved Zestiria’s soundtrack, and I have to say Berseria’s isn’t quite as good. There are some great tunes such as Velvet’s theme and a few of the overworld tracks, but it doesn’t quite seem to have the range or evoke the feeling of “grandness” that Zestiria’s music does. This isn’t to say that Berseria’s music is bad. It just doesn’t particularly strike me as memorable outside of a few select songs.

Perhaps the biggest point of contention is in the game’s overworlds. I personally prefer Berseria’s level-based designed to the empty and barren landscapes of Final Fantasy XV’s open world. I enjoyed navigating through snowy and grassy fields, marshes, caves and volcanoes. There isn’t as much detail in these areas, and I don’t particularly mind that, but I can understand how some people would want more from a game released in 2017.  I do feel as though future Tales titles should attempt to have more visually impressive and unique environments.

Whatever shortcomings the game may have in its environments and music, it more than makes up for in its gameplay and story. Tales of Berseria doesn’t abandon what made past Tales games successful. It takes inspiration from them, while confidently setting itself apart through its wonderful story. Berseria is easily the best Tales game I have ever played, and its tale will be one that will stick with me for a long time.

 

Final Score: 8.9 / 10

+ Fun, engaging combat

+ Emotional and captivating story

+ Fantastic cast

– Low-detailed environments

– Outdated graphics

– Andrew S.

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