Title: Tales of Berseria

Platform: PS4, Windows, Steam

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: JRPG

Players: Single player




Written by Dragoon 13th February 2017



















Bandai Namco's Tales series may not be as well known as other JRPG juggernauts like Final Fantasy but it's always had a loyal fanbase and has been pumping out titles for over 20 years now. Games in the series have largely followed the same beats throughout the years; a plucky band of colourful characters fight some big evil with the power of friendship and camaraderie while travelling all over a big world. While I initially enjoyed the series it’s constant similarities between titles has soured my opinion of it. I'm happy to say that Tales of Berseria, the latest entry in the series, has finally broken through that monotony.


Tales games have usually been a fairly light-hearted affair but right off the bat Berseria kicks that trend to the curb with brutal authority. The story follows a young woman by the name of Velvet Crowe, out for revenge after a heartbreaking betrayal where she lost everything. A disease known as the daemon-blight has turned her and many humans into human/daemon hybrids and the world is constantly threatened by true daemons who seek to destroy humanity. After escaping a prison for daemons Velvet sets out to kill the one who took her world away from her, joined by others who share a similar goal. I was pleasantly surprised by this premise, it's a much darker tone than I have come to expect from the series and it leads into plenty of interesting twists and turns along the way.





























Sadly however, the world of Berseria falls into the banality I mentioned before. The environments are your typical dime a dozen JRPG locations such as bland fields, boring caves and generic towns that the game has a bad habit of making you backtrack through them. It's a real shame it doesn't make better use of the power of the PS4 or PC’s hardware. The character designs are fantastic though but they also make the environments they inhabit look even worse in comparison.


As for the characters themselves I loved them all. While at first they seem like a typical cast of RPG cliches. You have the boisterous swordsman, the moody teenager and the kooky mage to name a few but as you get to know them you find out they all have their own unique pasts and motivations. One of the best features of the Tales series are the skits, little inter-party conversations that are triggered by a button press during certain events. These give you a more personal look at how these characters interact outside of the story and battle, letting you learn more about them in an organic and often hilarious way. My personal favorite characters were Rokurou, the previously mentioned samurai, and Eizen a dashing pirate who play off of each other remarkably well.





























Combat has always been a big focus of the Tales series and Berseria is no exception to the rule. Battles play out more like a brawler, taking place in an arena where you can move about freely in real-time. You can string together various abilities known as Artes to create flashy combos and exploit weaknesses. This is pretty normal for Tales games but the big difference this time around is the Soul Gauge system. Each character can have up to 5 souls which are spent when you use artes, you refill souls by either waiting or causing an enemy to drop theirs by killing them or using a certain skill. When you run out of souls you can still attack but you are likely to have them deflected. If you max out your souls you can use your characters unique Break Soul attack which lets them surpass the usual combo limit and deal more damage. This system is great because it adds a nice tactical layer to combat, you can't just spam the same combo against every enemy which was an issue the battle system had in the past.


To sum up, Tales of Berseria is a just what the series needed, a good start on breaking the mold it has so heavily based itself on. A much darker tone and a compelling story allow for a far more interesting time than it's predecessors and it is definitely worth a go for fans of the genre and newcomers to the  series. It may not hold a candle to some of the stellar RPGs we've had lately such as Final Fantasy XV but it has plenty to offer. While there are still some issues that need ironed out or improved on (such as the bland environments and needless backtracking) Tales of Berseria is a fun game that will give you plenty to get your teeth stuck into.



Pros:

Great mature story,

Engaging battle system,

Fun cast of characters.


Cons:

Bland and uninspired environments,

Irritating amount of backtracking.


Final verdict,

A step in the right direction for the series, Tales of Berseria earns an 8/10.


Written by,

Dragoon


















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