Genre: RPG (action,
Platform: PS3, PS4, PC
Release Date: Feb. 2017
Controls: Gamepad, KB&M
Official Site: https://www.bandainamcoent.com/games/tales-of-berseria
Fan Site: http://talesofwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Tales_of_Berseria
Developer/Publisher Bandai Namco
When Velvet was a girl, her village was attacked by daemons during a Scarlet Moon. Of her family, only her younger brother Laphicet, and brother in law survived. Several years later another Scarlet Moon appears and Velvet searches for Laphicet, only to find him in time to see him murdered. She contracts the Daemonblight, which manifests in her left arm. Velvet is captured and thrown into a dungeon, from which she eventually escapes. Now free, she has only one goal: Revenge upon the man who killed her brother, and sheâ€™ll do anything to achieve that goal.
Tales of Berseria is the 16th â€˜flagshipâ€™ title of the Tales series, and something of a prequel to the previous game, Tales of Zesteria. Much like Final Fantasy, most of the titles are not connected, and Berseria takes place many centuries before Zesteria, so knowledge of the other games is not necessary (though the Zesteria anime does make some passing references to Berseria).
In terms of gameplay, Berseria is a pretty typical Japanese RPG. You have your party of eccentric characters who gather around Velvet for their own reasons. You lead them around the world which slowly opens up, giving you more places to explore and things to fight. You fight things, lots of things. You level up and gain abilities. You talk to people in towns. You acquire and upgrade equipment. And so on.
One thing that helps set Berseria apart from other JRPGs - you assign skills for your buttons on a grid, which sets up potential combos. Each skill takes a certain amount of energy, so stringing a few high energy skills in a row can leave you exhausted. Certain skills can lead into the next, making a synergetic flow to the action. When certain gauges are full, you are able to unleash particularly powerful attacks. It can seem a bit complicated at first, but after a bit you should have a good feel how it works.
When adventuring you bring your whole party with you. At any one time you only have a maximum of four in combat (out of six total), but you are able to swap out a character for one in reserve - this can be very handy when a character is low on health or suffering from some deliberating condition.
Another interesting mechanic is that every piece of gear has a unique ability. After a character has worn something long enough, they â€˜masterâ€™ the ability and it becomes permanent on the character. This encourages a constant swapping of gear so that everyone gets all the masteries. Fortunately, gear drops are frequent and merchants update regularly, so youâ€™ll rarely be at a loss for something for someone to master.
If there is a downside to gameplay, it is that it does get a little repetitive after a while. There isnâ€™t much variety of things to do, just new places to do basically the same things over again...
BUT, what keeps Berseria interesting, and kept me enthralled, was the story and characters. The main story is constantly moving forward, you are constantly learning new bits of information and lore. Side quests are few, so nearly everything is related the main quest. Secrets are uncovered, which lead to new questions. And of course Velvetâ€™s quest for revenge gradually becomes about something much, much bigger.
The antagonists of Berseria are not the daemons, but the Abbey, a branch of the Empyrian Church which has gained great power in recent years. Much of that power has been granted to the Abbey because of the Exorcists - warrior-mages who are able to fight daemons. On the one hand, the people are grateful that the Exorcists are keeping daemons at bay, and admittedly many of them really are nice people just trying to help. But at the same time, the Abbey is using its influence to dictate how people should live their lives. The game asks you to question and weigh the merits of security at the cost of liberty.
The other place where Berseria shines is with the characters. Both protagonists and antagonists are full of distinctive characters, with varied personalities, temperaments and motives. Nearly everyone has depth, and rarely is anyone outright good or evil. The protagonists arenâ€™t exactly heroes - the main heroine is out for revenge, and more than once she leaves destruction in her wake. And the antagonists have actual motive for what they do - to bring peace and end the daemonblight. Both sides are guilty of doing bad things, for a good cause - of acting as if the ends justify the means. In short, the characters are complex and interesting!
Another fun thing are the Skits - skits are optional scenes you can activate where characters in your party banter and interact. These moments provide a great deal of insight into the characters. Sometimes skits are funny, sometimes serious, but they are always entertaining. You can select either English or Japanese voices. I found the English voices, for the most part, fit the characters well and did a good job.
On the technical side of things, the graphics are nice, though nothing spectacular. They do capture the look of an anime very well though. The maps are a little on the smallish side. The up shot for PC users is that the game should run well with high settings on even a moderate system. The music was good. While I wouldnâ€™t call the soundtrack a must-have, I can see how many would want a copy.
Minus the repetitive combat and equipment management, Tales of Berseria is like playing through an anime series that lasted a few seasons, one that put a strong emphasis on plot and characters. If you rush through the game you can finish it in a few dozen hours. But take your time and enjoy everything the characters have to say, and you could find yourself enthralled for several dozen hours.