Tales of Berseria preview
From the six hours I played of Bandai Namco Entertainment’s Tales of Berseria on PC, my overall impression was somewhat positive. I enjoyed the character development and story, but combat felt stop-start as the soul gauge system hampered what could have been a fast and fluid combat system.
In terms of story, the game is about Velvet who seeks to kill Artorius, the head of the Abbey and exorcists, as three years prior to the game’s story he sacrificed Velvet’s younger brother, Laphicet in order to gain the power to defeat the Daemonblight and the Daemons it creates. Velvet tried to prevent the sacrifice, but her attempt to so saw her left arm become something akin to a Daemon, which allows her to absorb the powers of Daemons and other creatures. Her conversion to a Daemon meant she was thrown in prison, where she spent three years eating Daemons. When Velvet finally escapes her prison, she vows that she will use what or whoever to accomplish her goal or revenge.
From what I’ve played of the game, the story is very much a tale of revenge, and not just for Velvet. All the characters that join her have a need for some form of revenge. The story also doesn’t paint Velvet or the other main characters as good people, they are shown to be morally grey, not good and not bad, they are simply doing what they need to do, to accomplish their goal.
I feel Velvet could be my next favourite JRPG protagonist because after only six hours of gameplay she has shown considerable character development. At the start, she has no problem using Daemons and people as tools to complete a goal, but by the time, I stopped previewing she goes out of her way to save Malak Number Two, a Malak she stole from an exorcist. The Malak also happens to resemble Laphicet; Velvet’s deceased brother.
In terms of other characters met. Another noteworthy character is that of Eizen who fans of the tales of series will remember from Tales of Zestiria. For those who don’t remember, Eizen is Edna’s older brother and the dragon you see with her when you first encounter her. Eizen believes Malakim (spirits) should be free and says that he is cursed, because if something can go wrong, it usually does.
Now I mentioned Malak and Malakim, but what is a Malak? Well, they are essentially spirits that the exorcists use as tools to defeat the Daemons and the Daemonblight. Malakim are also the precursor to the Seraphim seen in Tales of Zestiria. It is likely that the exorcists’ exploitation of Malakim is the reason why Seraphim cannot be seen by most humans in Tales of Zestiria.
Now let’s talk about the combat. As I said at the top of this preview, I felt the soul gauge (SG) system hampered what could have been a fast and fluid combat system, well this is both right and wrong. If you use the system correctly, combat can be fast and fluid. The Soul gauge system is built around combos and stunning, when you perform combos you drain your soul gems (starting with 3), but when you stun or kill an enemy you gain a new soul, which means you can perform a longer combo. This means combat mostly focuses on stunning and gaining the maximum number of souls, which is five.
The SG system also lays the groundwork for the rest of the combat system, which includes Break Souls and Blast Gauge. Break Souls allows you to sacrifice one soul to do more damage and perform attacks that ignore combo limits. The Blast Gauge allows you to perform mystic artes, and works in tandem with the Break Souls system, as to fill your Blast Gauge you need to perform Break Souls attacks.
As you can see, the combat in Tales of Berseria has many layers with one system relying on another to maximise your potential in combat. This is mainly why I felt the SG system hampered the overall flow of combat because honestly there is nothing worse than using up all your SG and running around waiting for it to recharge.
Tales of Berseria also includes some side activities that involve collecting herbs, cooking, expedition, and collect Katz spirits. Katz spirits allow you to open Katz chests, opening these chests usually rewards you with a fashion item. Expedition involves sending your ship out to explore the outer seas in an attempt to find material, special items and unlock area.
In the end, the preview showed me that Tales of Berseria has a lot of potential. Characters are well developed, the story feels morally grey, and the combat while stop-start at times is enjoyable.
|Bandai Namco Entertainment||Bandai Namco Entertainment||JRPG||16+||PS4, PC||January 27, 2017|
For more information on Tales of Berseria, visit http://blog.talesofgame.com/en/.