Tales of Berseria Review
The Tales series is back with another installment, but things are a lot darker than they've ever been before. The story features a young woman named Velvet who is raising her little brother, Laphicet. One day when Velvet is away from her home the town is struck by a daemonblight that turns all of the citizens into "daemons" (prounced demons.) Amongst the chaos, Laphicet goes missing. Velvet tracks him down to only find that her brother-in-law Artorius is sacrificing Laphicet as a part of a ritual. Artorius attempts to sacrifice Velvet, but she is able to fight him off. Unfortunately for Velvet, she was somewhat affected by the daemonblight and is partially turned into a daemon. Velvet then sets out to avenge her brother and kill Artorius.
One of the highlights of the Tales series has always been the combat system. While a lot of JRPGs use a variation of turn-based combat, Tales of Berseria uses a live-action system that is much more frantic than other RPGs. You also have four people total that are fighting with three of them working completely independently. You can adjust their behavior with a simple button command, but this never felt necessary. Additionally, Berseria doesn't use mana for special abilities, but rather a Soul Gauge that depletes as an ability is used and regenerates as you either stun an enemy, kill an enemy, or just over time. This unique system is great when you're kicking butt, but can be a pain when fighting a stronger enemy. I appreciate it when any developer attempts to freshen up old mechanics, but I wouldn't miss this system it if it didn't show up in the next game. Your companions also use this.
One of the big drawbacks that I felt with Berseria is that the fights, for the most part, are incredibly easy on the normal difficulty. Unlike other JRPGs you can see the enemies in the field and can choose to either fight them or ignore them. It's logical to think that you should fight every enemy so you can level up, but the fact is that you can do a minimal amount of encounters and be fine. There were times where I was working my way through a dungeon and discovered that I was absolutely dominating every enemy. After a while, I became bored with encounters and just wanted to advance the story. I'd recommend that after about 10 hours if you find Berseria to be too easy, that you should either increase the difficulty or switch to any character other than Velvet. You can always switch back later.
Speaking of the other characters, you eventually have six people to choose from. One thing I really enjoyed about this is that the majority of your characters are in your party within about 12 hours of starting the game. This doesn't cause any inconvenience later on down the road of someone joining your party at say 30 hours, meaning that you have to buy all new gear for them or start leveling up their skills. Each character has a set of "Artes" and the more they use specific Artes, the better they become. This is also true for equipment. There's actually a lot to level up in Berseria, but most of it just happens naturally without needing to pay attention to what you're doing so you don't need to focus on it.
As I mentioned before, the dungeons are pretty massive. There are tons of corridors, breakable walls, and puzzles that you have to run through. Now, when I say "dungeons" you get the image of some dark, dank scary place, but in Berseria most of the dungeons are actually outside. Aesthetically this is a nice change of pace because it's more fun to run around a beautiful forest than a dingy cave, right? One issue is that one of the puzzles is repeated a few times and it's kind of a pain. There are color coded floating objects that you have to touch to deactivate colored doors. The issue is that when you change one color you activate another, so this may mean that you need to run back to another part of the dungeon to deactivate another color. This wouldn't be bad if it was just one dungeon that did this, but there are at least three where this happens. No one likes doing the same puzzle mechanics over and over and I am not an exception.
The story itself will take you around 50 hours to complete, but there are plenty of things to do outside of the story. There are mini-games, side quests and an awesome real-time ship simulator where you can find ingredients to cook with. Cooking is actually a pretty awesome feature that allows you to get extra perks, as well as automatically heal yourself during combat, as long as you reach certain perimeters. I definitely recommend partaking in the extras because the benefits are absolutely worth it. The story also features an amazing amount of hand drawn anime cutscenes that are always fun to watch.
Overall, Tales of Berseria is a good game for people who are both experienced and inexperienced with JRPGs. The fact that the storyline is much darker than any of the previous installments will excite people who are looking for something that breaks away from the usual "good guy" story.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Bandi-Namco for providing the code.