REVIEW: Tales of Berseria

Friday, February 10th, 2017

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Title Tales of Berseria
Developer Bandai Namco Studios Inc.
Publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date January 26, 2017
Genre Japanese RPG
Platform PlayStation 4, PC
Age Rating T (Teen)
Official Website

Tales of Berseria PC | Stairs

Velvet Crowe is an angry, troubled young woman. She and her brother Laphicet are the victims of a phenomenon called the Scarlet Night, which transforms the people of her village into werewolf daemons. Having no way to fight them, she tries to flee, only to find her mentor Arthur (Artorius Collbrande) has captured her brother and put him to the sword (or in the localized version’s case, a magic spell activated by piercing his weapon through a magic circle). A magic spell ends up killing Laphicet as he drops lifelessly into a large, dark pit before he’s consumed by what appears to be a glowing golden dragon. Velvet’s fury transforms her into a daemon herself, after which she puts down the werewolves, forcing her to kill every last villager. However, she too is captured and thrown into prison for three long years, being thrown weaker daemons to feed upon to stay alive.

Tales of Berseria | Velvet and Eizen

And this is how Tales of Berseria begins. Berseria is quite a bit darker than previous Tales games, which makes it a refreshing departure from the rest. Velvet herself is not what you’d call a heroic protagonist. She is, for the most part, selfish, acts on impulse and fury, and only takes along allies because it makes her ultimate goal of killing Artorius out of revenge and fighting the forces of The Abbey that much easier. Concerning the particular scene depicting Laphicet’s death at the beginning of the game, I’d like to share my thoughts on it. By depicting the killing act using magic rather than the original stabbing, it blunts the impact of the shock and anger you’re supposed to feel along with Velvet for the rest of the game. You can also clearly see blood on the front of Laphicet’s clothing as he is falling to his doom. But in any case, killing children in video games is a very, VERY touchy subject, and by no means is it one that makes people comfortable to talk about. It is interesting to note, though, that moments like that push the limits of what is acceptable to view in games with Western eyes, at least in its original scene.

Tales of Berseria PC | Magilou Trolling

Velvet is no less traumatized either way. She usually speaks with a bitter irritation in her voice, showing little patience and trust for anyone whom she feels might get in her way, sometimes lashing out and reacting violently to both friends and foes alike. How much of this is due to her daemon transformation, or her unrestrained fury towards Artorius, is up for debate. She is tortured by nightmares and flashbacks constantly, feels betrayed and is slow to trust and rely on others. Yet, for someone who for the most part lets emotions rule her actions, Velvet is also methodical when she needs to be and takes the lead by forming plans to disrupt and sabotage The Abbey’s operations. These usually involve theft, destruction, kidnapping, hostage taking, killing, assault, arson, and scaring the living daylights out of people. Or in other words, piracy.

When the commoners start calling her the Lord of Calamity, she simultaneously embraces and struggles with her new identity, and she knows all too well that her sins pile on and weigh on her. Thus, Velvet is not an “anti-hero” like Yuri Lowell was in Vesperia. Yuri was a man who challenged the corrupt noble government from the outside to help the poor and downtrodden using unscrupulous methods. Velvet’s motives are selfish and singular, she cares not one whit what happens to the world, or anyone else, so long as Artorius is killed by her blood-red hand. At least, until she meets the malak who would “replace” Laphicet. The new Laphicet is emotionless and doll-like at first, but eventually develops feelings and a sense of self-awareness and identity, becoming truly alive as his character evolves a great deal over the course of the game. The relationship and bond between Velvet and malak Laphicet, along with their mutual opposition to Artorius and The Abbey’s ideology of Reason, sets the theme of Tales of Berseria. As her surrogate brother, malak Laphicet’s emerging free will makes him receptive to be taught about the merits and failures of both extremes and what it truly means to live and be his own person.

Tales of Berseria PC | Laphicet Mystic Arte

The combat system in Tales of Berseria is a marked improvement over Zestiria. Now you can customize combos on the fly using four different buttons to string them together, which is great for targeting weaknesses and creating move sets which allow you to attack with devastating chains and Mystic Artes to really put the hurt on your enemies. There’s no Armatization this time, so it’s back to controlling four different characters on the field. You can switch someone in if your BG meter is at least level 1, and doing this is useful if you’re in danger or you want to keep a combo going with them. Just like with the other games, you’ll get a better Grade if you increase the difficulty, don’t use items, don’t let anyone die, etc. At the time of this writing, the player AI is bugged, which is unfortunate, but Bandai Namco stated on Steam that they are working on a patch to fix it, along with a 7.1 surround sound bug, which I think might affect the sudden increase in volume during battles.

Tales of Berseria PC | Rokurou Attack

You’ll be happy to hear that Tales of Berseria does run at 60 FPS at 1080p on PC, however, there are times that the framerate will occasionally drop noticeably. This only seems to happen when there are heavy effects going on, like in a snowy area or when there’s a lot of magic and flashiness being thrown around. For reference, I am using an EVGA GTX 970 to review this, so you might have to play around with settings like lowering the draw distance or other effects that might be affecting it. Berseria looks great, and there are places like Velvet’s hometown that have detailed and pretty environments, but there’s no question that it still looks like an anime game from the PS3 era.

Tales of Berseria is one of the best Tales games I’ve played in a while. It’s bold, dark departure from previous games in the series is a welcome change in storytelling. It has some surprisingly shocking and dark moments, but the skits help lighten the mood with comic relief now and then. Motoi Sakuraba does a fantastic job with the soundtrack too, which is also a bit darker in tone and at times gets downright nightmarish, but still has that same adventurous feel when you’re exploring the field maps. The battle music is rockin’ as always. And may I say, the opening song by FLOW “BURN” is amazing. I highly recommend Tales of Berseria to add to your Japanese RPG collection on Steam. It can be yours for $49.99, and it took me just under 50 hours to complete the main story.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

About Joe Sigadel

Joe is the reporting manager for oprainfall, he is also a broadcaster on Twitch and loves showing off many of the games we report about on his channel. He has also been known to defended Senran Kagura from those who only want to accept it at face value.

  • Jeremy Barnes

    I was really impressed with Berseria. I thought they did a great job taking the good things from previous games and making a fun game to play through.

  • chris

    “.By depicting the killing act using magic rather than the original stabbing, it blunts the impact of the shock and anger you’re supposed to feel along with Velvet for the rest of the game. ”

    I really don’t get this view. Place yourself in her shoes and tell me how much sense this makes. “Well at least my brother was only brutally murdered by magic spears instead of a sword, if that were the case then I’d be really angry”

    Regardless of how it happened, her child brother was still murdered by someone she trusted right in front of her.

    • Steve Baltimore

      This equates to if Sephiroth had killed Aeris with magic instead of impaling her with his sword. Without the seeing the sword pierce her and her limp body fall over the impact of that scene would’ve been diminished somewhat.

      Sure the end result is the same, but when your going for a darker more edgy story it is self defeating to tone it down from the get go. In the end however this is still one of the better games in the franchise, but I hope in the future they try to keep edits like this out of the main plot points at least.

    • Mr0303

      Plus there are various ways to kill people, each having different impact. This is why the Hague Convention banned multiple weapons and tactics of war, which they deemed inhumane.

    • Lazeegai

      Good point but I believe there is a difference. Where as FFVII is place in a dystopia future where the ToB is place in a “iffy” medieval times. But then again its the creator choice so we really have no say in it.
      lol, Are you sure? I honestly think this is just average compare to its franchise. I mean I love Tales of the Abyss but the story are crap and my god the characters are despicable. Only Luke, Guy and Tear are only likable though this is what I think.

    • Steve Baltimore

      I’m that rare person that likes Legendia the best lol
      I still need play the two Xillia games, I haven’t got to them yet.

    • Lazeegai

      lol I never played Legendia before but I heard it was pretty good. Just can’t find it anywhere.

      Aha, Xillia was not the best in my opinion. If anything the story and characters were not as interesting as they trailers made it to be. But my opinion aside you should play it for ya self to form your opinion on it. Its pretty dirt cheap around me so maybe near you it should be the same.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Oh I own both games, I just haven’t played them yet 😀

    • Lazeegai

      Oh lol then nevermind the last comment then

    • Jeremy Barnes

      As someone who generally disdains censorship changes, they were upfront about it. They were upfront about why and the potential impact on its sales to get a higher rating for one scene. This wasn’t a Nintendo edit where they’re made just because Nintendo feels like it and don’t change the rating.

      Also, Sephiroth’s sword was iconic so him suddenly stabbing her with a sword made out of magic would have been jarring. In the story, without knowing from outside the game, the magic doesn’t seem out of place.

    • Lazeegai

      I don’t think its about idea of how we view it but rather it’s an artistic view. lets not see it as a real world view point but as a creator artistic choice. If anything just think of evangelion with them energy spears. And hey it’s a game along with anime. Theres really no need for logic if the story is good.