Action RPGs are abundant these days but there is still nothing quite like the ‘Tales of’ series that features an action combat mixing real-time skills with strategic elements. Tales of Berseria is the latest entry in this long running series. Since each of the ‘Tales of’ games usually have their own protagonist and world, Berseria appears to continue this trend debuting the lead heroine Velvet Crowe.
If you have played Tales of Zesteria or any other past ‘Tales of’ game in the series, then you shouldn’t have much issue getting into the combat system. Tales of Berseria features anime aesthetics that is a norm for the series. It has some gorgeous character designs that also appear to sport a charming personality that makes the journey to the end of the game much more fun.
The story of Tales of Berseria is focused on Velvet Crowe. The game begins with a slow paced prologue that introduces us to the lead characters. We soon learn that Velvet Crowe is just an ordinary girl that loves her little brother. She also lost her mother when she was a child during an unfortunate event. This prologue serves as a nice backstory for the lead character and her motivation and story is explained clearly, which helps in establishing her as a strong protagonist. While I won’t spoil the opening chapters, I will say that the opening definitely ranks among the top opening for the ‘Tales of’ series.
Once the game properly begins and the story events are set in motion, we are slowly introduced to the full cast of characters for Tales of Berseria including the wacky antics of Magilou. The party this time around has its own unique quirks where each of the party member offers their insight on the on-going story elements through the skits, and this is where majority of their character development happens. The localization team has done a great job in bringing some of these characters to life, particularly Magilou easily ended up as our favorite character.
Majority of the story is detailed through lengthy voiced cutscenes and they are well animated for the most part. There are even some animated cutscenes which are absolutely gorgeous and offer some of the best looking animation from the Tales series. The character skits this time around are plenty, and the playful banter between the characters where they interact and talk about the story events is truly a joy to witness. I never missed a chance to trigger such a skit during any of the story moments as it was always interesting to hear the thoughts of the party members. This is one aspect of the series that appears to have been perfectly integrated for Tales of Berseria.
While Tales of Berseria manages to shine with its cast of characters, it fails at something as simple, which is its visual style. Despite being one of the top tier RPGs, it often feels like the game was budgeted rather modestly because of how some of the environments feel flat and barren. This is seen in the battle screen as well which is seemingly integrated in real-time with the on-foot exploration. Some of the textures, aside from the main character models, often give a feeling of cross-generation development which applies to this game as well. Thankfully despite the dated visuals at time, the game truly shines thanks to its art style and exceptionally clean image quality. It also runs at a smooth frame rate on the PS4 making for an enjoyable experience overall.
The combat in Berseria is implemented in a way which encourages the user to utilize the various combos to keep a chain. The higher the chain, the more advantage the player will get depending on how they execute their artes. There are a variety of artes to pick here including martial artes, which make up for majority of the combos, and mystic artes, which are essentially special attacks. These can be customized or timed to properly start a chain of attacks on the enemy. We can even try to juggle enemies in air or exploit the weakness of the enemy by using a counter artes. Battles start almost immediately as we run into monsters on the world map and there is almost no loading in-between, which makes for smoother transitions. The combat is a marked improvement over its predecessor.
If you like challenge and enjoy the combat featured in the game, there is the option to increase the battle difficulty which improves the AI making for an interesting combat system. Blocking and dodging becomes much more important with a tougher enemy and since they also reward the player with skills, it becomes necessary to learn them in order to overcome some of the boss fights. Higher difficulty also provides better item drops from enemies. However the game is still challenging enough on the default difficulty that a change wouldn’t be necessary until a replay.
The one aspect of the game that I loved was the ability to learn skills and stats boost by equipping different gear. This gives an incentive to equip the weapons or armor that we collect in battle so that we can unlock a specific skill or stat boost by mastering it. The game also provides the player an incentive to explore by hiding secrets around the world map. We can build the characters as we see fit through equipment or stat boosting herbs. If you are fan of customization, then you can also dress up the characters with different set of clothes, hair styles and accessories. All of these are nice little additions but as a whole, definitely enhance the overall experience of the game.
Tales of Berseria is one of the better ‘Tales of’ game released after quite a while. While I was disappointed with how Zesteria ended up, I am more than happy to see the progress made in Berseria and the potential that is shows for the franchise.
Tales of Berseria Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Tales of Berseria is a role-playing video game developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sixteenth main entry in the Tales series.
Tales of Berseria is a remarkable improvement over its predecessors and a step in the right direction for the series.