IMPORT REVIEW: Tales of Berseria

Monday, September 12th, 2016

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Tales of Berseria Japanese box art
Title Tales of Berseria
Developer Namco
Publisher Namco
Release Date August 18, 2016 (Japan)
Genre Role-playing
Platform PS4, PS3
Age Rating CERO B
Official Website

When Tales of Berseria was announced back in 2015, I wasn’t that shocked, as I knew the developers would want to milk the 20th anniversary of the franchise a bit more. What did surprise me was the title having any relation to Zesteria, which at the time got a lot of flak for the state it was released in, including its marketing as well as the development history surrounding it. Nevertheless, the 16th mainline title would continue onward with a darker, edgier approach not before seen in the series, only this time without the series producer, Hideo Baba. With two years of development and the developers having more focus on a single title instead of juggling multiple games at once, did they finally deliver a satisfying title comparable to the older titles?

The game takes place in the Holy Midgand Empire, in the very distant past of Zesteria’s setting, where a terrible disease infects the land known as the Daemonblight. It causes normal humans who are infected to lose their sense and reasoning, and become violent beasts called Daemons. To counteract this epidemic, the empire conceived the Abbey, a group of exorcists whose sole purpose is to eradicate them. Our main heroine, Velvet Crow, was infected with the disease after a tragedy struck her village and left everyone dead, including her brother by the hands of her brother in law, Artorius. After escaping imprisonment with unexpected help, she joins up with several questionable individuals, including a pirate crew who also just so happens to have a hatred for the Abbey and are looking for their missing Captain. Like the legend of the Berserkers, Velvet utilizes her new gift imbued on her left arm to further her new purpose in life; to get revenge on Artorius.

Tales of Berseria | Meet your party

Because the game is in Japanese, I can’t speak much about the plot except key points including spoilers which I will avoid mentioning. But the highlights were definitely conveyed, such as this being the most morally ambiguous cast in the series. The game gets grim at times, but it’s more of an emotional toll than anything else. Velvet may wear an over-the-top outfit to fit this tone, and starts out as an uncaring, vindictive person, but I still felt empathy towards her and not just simply pity. This is most likely due to amazing voice work of  Rina Satō, who can switch from a sweet natured valley girl, to a rage filled individual who is on a downward spiral, to madness from all the hardships she endured and continues to throughout the plot. Laphicet, as the child of the group and moral compass for Velvet, while cliche at times, did develop quite well into his own character along with the other misfits as the journey progresses.

Something is obviously sinister and suspicious about Magilou, but she’s very effective as comedy relief, with Rokurou being the simple minded battle hungry freak yet so laidback its hard to not like him. Almost like fate, Edna’s brother, Eizen ended up being my favorite male character. Who, along with Eleanor being my favorite female character, had some of the most enjoyable skits in the game. Even with the game having a more serious tone than its predecessors, it knows when to shake loose and still have fun with its characters, and I’m glad they haven’t forgotten one of Tales of series’ strongest points. That’s one thing I truly love about the cast this time, they all not only have their own overarching story, but they all have enough screen time to shine. While you will see a few similar faces and the game drops a few references, as the developers intended, the game is its own entity doing its own thing and it worked out better than I thought. It still has the checklist of series cliches, but for what they were going for I think they succeeded and it just feels nice to have a proper ending without any DLC attachments.

Tales of Berseria | Eizen essentially filling the role of the monk

When it comes to the battle system, the team decided to use the framework from Zesteria but also use something similar to the Arte Tree system seen in Graces. However, they switched the conventions up and now Artes are mapped to the face buttons and it’s less limited with the tree system and now more like a grid. So not only is it possible to map out a combo on a single button but also change mid combo to another set of Artes mapped to another or mix and match; making many possibilities for combos. This does mean that there are no longer shortcuts for Artes, so this decision will not be met with open arms by all. Like any Tales of games, while you can mash buttons, it’s simply not enough at times and requires a bit more strategy against certain enemies and bosses.

SG, which stands for the Soul Gauge, is this game’s bar mechanic that determines things from Artes usage to character movement like dodging. Successfully stunning, killing enemies and stealing souls from enemies with well-timed dodges grants you more souls, with each character having a separate bar and accumulates up to five. There is also the new Break Soul mechanic, which on activation costs one soul of the bar, but allows the character who each have their own specific ability to turn the tides. For example, Velvet activates the curse on her arm which, when successfully hitting an enemy with the swipe, allows her to take the essence of said enemy and utilize a special move determined by the essence and extended combo when Break Soul is activated.

Tales of Berseria | Happy to have a spear user that stays with the group

More Moral Ambiguity on Page 2 ->

About David Fernandes

(Community Manager) David is an assistant admin and community manager at oprainfall. He joined the Operation Rainfall Campaign at the beginning, and became one of the staff as the first wave of new volunteers were needed back in mid June. He is an avid video game collector, and lover of most game genres. David spends much of his time in a futile effort in clearing out his ever growing video game backlog.

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  • tio rafa

    This game has artes shortcuts btw

  • MusouTensei

    Can’t wait for the western release.

  • neptuniafan

    Well said. I do agree that they are playing it safe with this title considering the huge backlash of the previous title. While I do see some drawbacks from Berseria when compared to Zestria, but the battle system plus the characters really makes up for it.

    Hopefully this game managed to repair their reputation of the franchise and the team may move forward to make the franchise a lot better then ever.

  • Panpopo

    Nice review. This will be my first tales game since symphonia.

    • Jon Idoncair

      wow you’ve missed a ton of advancements in the franchise lol

    • Panpopo

      Yeah, it will be fun to see what was improved since then! I’m used to the older titles (like Phantasia and Destiny 1&2) so this will be interesting 🙂

    • Jon Idoncair

      yeaaaah its changed a TON since then, 3D movement across the battlefield

      crazy broken combos galore @.@

    • maek123

      Wow…you’re going to be BLOWN AWAY if Symphonia was your last title.

    • Panpopo

      I am looking forward to it (and Yakuza 0)! I meant to play Tales of Graces but due to work and backlog I haven’t done so yet.

    • Zeonis

      Dang… I would highly recommend Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Graces f if you have a 360 and/or PS3.

    • Panpopo

      Thanks! I will grab tales of graces soon. Hope to get beat it after a couple games playing right now.

    • Zeonis

      Cool… I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

  • Anthony Thomas

    But does it still have the weapon skill system?

    • tio rafa

      The skill system is more similar to vesperia, you could say. Each weapon and etc has different types of skills: skills you can master, random skills and another type I forgot the name (now I’m not sure if it was 3 or 2 types, but anyway). You cannot learn random skills, but mastery skills you can learn and have them even if you unequip your equipment, like in vesperia. There is also something like a system which permits you to upgrade your equipments, but unfortunately I’m not sure of the details. (Sorry if my english is bad)

    • Anthony Thomas

      Well that sounds a hell of a lot better than Zesteria’s. Honestly though, I was hoping for something closer to Graces’ system with titles instead of weapons

  • Jon Idoncair

    did i read that right, the review didn’t know Japanese while playing the game, what lol

    idk im still on the fence, I might just wait for Tales to have their first PS4 game instead with a new graphics engine and not a PS3 game ported to PS4 like this and zesteria have been so far