What is it like to play a “Tales” game? I wondered when I started watching some trailers of Tales of Berseria. I found it fascinating to see a game that continues to pop-up in game sites even though the franchise is relatively unknown and not as famous as other big JRPGs. After watching countless trailers and reading articles about Tales of Berseria, the chance came and I finally tested it out. Boy, was it good!
*All photos in this review are taken from stock. Strangely, the game doesn’t allow in-game footage to be captured in the PS4.
Tales of the Tales of Berseria
A band of misfits come together to defeat a large evil. Oh, where have I heard of this?
Tales of Berseria follows the story of Velvet, a demon/human hybrid bent on getting revenge. Everything started when his brother-in-law, Artorius, killed her younger brother. Due to a cataclysmic event, her right hand became that of a demon, being capable of devouring the essence of both spirits and demons. Branded as an anomaly herself, she was imprisoned for three years. Due to some complex machinations, she escaped and started her journey to defeat Artorius, who after all those years, became the most powerful man in the world.
Gameplay and Combat
The game follows most of the standard JRPG tropes and designs. In the world map, the player takes control of Velvet as she goes around vast plains, large caves, and huge cities. Here, the player can open chests for loot, collect floating orbs for character cosmetics, and play some mini-games. But it’s not all fun and games. Encountering an enemy in the world map transitions the game into an arena-style combat.
The six characters have distinct personalities that add color in every interaction, be they important to the story or not.
Tales of Berseria’s battle mode requires the player’s immediate intervention when tackling foes. It’s not the usual wait and see, turn-based RPG. The active party can consist of up to four characters in the fray. Instead of controlling all of the characters, Tales of Berseria relies on AI to orchestrate a fight. Only one character is under the player’s direct control. And here’s where the good part comes.
Each character in Tales of Berseria has a unique fighting style. For example, Velvet is more of a gritty fighter, relying on combos and executions to deal damage. On the otherhand, there are magic users like Magilou that rely on nukes that are slow but deadly when cast. However, it is not as simple as whacking everything until they drop. Enemies have weaknesses and strengths that should also be taken into account.
Depending on the difficulty set, every encounter rewards the player with more experience. The leveling system also provides a good incentive to progress. As the player levels up their character, each one unlocks a new “art” or battle move. These moves can be chained together to induce status effects on the enemy.
Why so Grand and Empty?
While I did love the tunes of Tales of Berseria, there’s an obvious lack in the visual department. Yes, we get to tour a large open-world but it is still constrained in map segments. To add, invisible walls are still a thing here. The player’s exploration is hampered by cliffs that you can’t jump off and some other nuisances that should’ve been done away in this day and age.
But let’s just not nitpick on that. I’m more concerned about why they weren’t able to make it more beautiful or detailed. Tales of Berseria suffers from repetitive designs that are sadly repeated in its immense maps. I noticed this when I started climbing the stairs towards a temple. It could’ve been better as it was a climactic moment leading to a grand encounter. But much to my disappointment, it was just white marbled stairs, some white tiles, and white steps.
I do know that not every RPG is required to make a large incredibly detailed world to entice players, take Suikoden for example. But it’s certainly not healthy to make a copy-pasted dungeon that takes hours to beat, take Dragon Age II as a loose example.
Large amounts of detail fly up on the screen in every encounter.
Despite having shortcomings in the graphics department, Tales of Berseria is one great JRPG. There’s something good about a game that still introduces new mechanics even after 20 hours into it. It’s also a very lengthy product. Initially, I thought that it would end at the 20 hour mark, but on that cue, I wasn’t even at the half of the game.
One thing I didn’t like about it all, especially in the PS4 version of the game, is that I wasn’t able to get in-game screenshots. As I’ve stated in the introduction, the PS4 version locks the player from taking screenshots, requiring a capture card in order to do so. And that device is something I don’t have given that the PS4 already has a built-in feature to do so.
Now back to the good things. If Tales of Berseria were a burger, the battle system is the beef patty, oozing with high-grade marbled meat from the butcher gods. The bread bun would be its story, a revenge plot that’s not too strict and rigid on its characters, allowing leeway and development. Other things such as the mini-games and various distractions make up the veggies that are sandwiched in between. All in all, a great combination that’s a must for every JRPG fans.