Tales of Berseria (PS4) review
Diving straight into the story, the main character Velvet lived a quiet life with her sick brother Laphicet, but one scarlet night her quiet life was destroyed, as Artorius, Velvet’s brother-in-law, sacrifices Laphicet to the four Empyreans (gods) in order to save the world from daemons and the daemonblight that creates them. The sacrifice also sees Velvet change with the Empyrean turning her into a Therion and brandishing her with a daemon arm that consumes all living creatures.
With Velvet now a Therion and her quiet life destroyed, Velvet vows she will kill Artorius, the man the world now hails as a saviour. Velvet works with pirates, daemons, Malakim, exorcists and witches to reach her goal of killing the now crowned Sheppard Artorius.
However, as the story progresses the goal of vengeance changes as Velvet and her crew discover that the very nature of what it means to be human is under attack, as Artorius wishes to eliminate emotion and create a world where only reason exists. To stop Artorius’ plan Velvet needs to defeat Innominat, the fifth Empyrean, but fighting Innominat isn’t without risk as the challenges hurt Velvet on both a physical and emotional level.
The story also explores the suppression of a race of spirits called Malakim, and the attempt to find and save Therions like Velvet.
Tales of Berseria offers a story that leaves you asking what it means to be human, and when you lose someone you love, do you lash out against the world letting your emotions run wild, or do you stand back and look at the reason for the action.
Now, while the story is strong, what about the characters? Honestly, Tales of Berseria has some of the best characters I’ve encountered in a video game. Each character is well fleshed out with their flaws, strengths and well humanity all explored. In terms of characters, we have Velvet, a Therion who is out for revenge but also constantly fighting her emotions. Magilou, a self-styled witch who hides her face behind a wall of jokes and mischief. Rokurou, a Daemon swordsman who lives and dies by his blades. Malak Laphicet, a malak that Velvet saved, and showed him the world and all of its wonders. Eizen, a pirate malak, who lives by a pirate creed, and suffers from the Reaper’s curse, which plagues him and everyone around him with bad luck. Eleanor, an exorcist praetor who abandoned the order to follow Velvet in search for the truth. Finally, Artorius, a man who saved the world, but is burdened with despair.
As you can tell from those short descriptions, Tales of Berseria has a cast of complicated characters that players get to see them struggle, fall and grow throughout the game. It isn’t very often I find myself getting attached to multiple characters, but I just felt attached to each character in the game as their emotions felt real and not some contrivance created to add tension to a scene.
Now, let’s move onto the four-person combat, which is arguably the weakest aspect of the game. I say weakest because despite it being easy to use there is no depth to it, and this is despite the fact that the combat has multiple layers.
Combat in Tales of Berseria is built around the soul gauge (SG) system where you need to need to press any one of the face buttons on the controller to perform an array of combo attacks, although the length of your combo is determined by the amount of souls your character holds. To increase your soul capacity you need to inflict status ailments or kill enemies, although after each battle the soul count goes back to three.
The SG system also lays the groundwork for the Break Souls and Blast Gauge. Break Souls allows you to reduce your soul capacity by one in order to do additional damage and perform attacks that ignore combo limits, however, you need at least 3 souls to activate it. The Blast Gauge is very much your ultimate attack, otherwise known as a mystic arte, to active this you need to fill your Blast gauge three times over, but to fill up the gauge you need to use Break Souls.
Tales of Berseria’s combat can be both fun and dull depending on how a fight is going. If you get lucky and constantly land attacks that give you souls, you can spend a large chunk of the fight spamming Break Souls. However, if you are unlucky and the enemy causes you to lose soul capacity, the fight is a battle of charging up your soul capacity, throwing a few punches and charging again in a very stop-start manner.
So besides combat, story and characters, what else does Tales of Berseria offer? Well like previous Tales of games, we have skits and side quests, skits provide both character information and comedic relief to the player. Side quests give you a reason to explore the world and by the way, I highly recommend collecting all the Normin dolls as they unlock an experience rich boss battle.
The game also offers side activities that run in tandem with your progression, these activities are cooking, expedition and Katz spirits. Cooking is straightforward, you collect the ingredients needed and cook the food, however, you can choose to auto cook, which means when you eat your food, you will automatically cook more of the same food. Expedition involves you sending a scout ship out to explore the world, this scout ship allows you to obtain food for cooking, cooking recipes, treasure, and fashion items. Finally, Katz spirits are glowing orbs that you can collect while exploring the world, if you gather enough you can go to a Katzs chest and open it, and if you are lucky enough you will be rewarded with a fashion item.
Speaking of fashion, fashion is the ability change the appearance of your character via attachments or new costumes, wearing fashion items is a nice if not odd option, although it is funny when you go into a serious scene and one of your characters is wearing a Normin suit.
Tales of Berseria also offers mini-games. These include bursting all the balloons within a certain amount of time, doing as much damage as possible within a certain amount of time, and fishing. The rewards for taking part in mini-games are Tales coins, which you can use to buy fashion items, items, and material.
Speaking of material, these are used to enhance your characters weapons and armour. Enhancement can only be done at shops, which also allows you to dismantle old equipment for material. Enhanced items provide your character with bonuses, which are displayed under the item in the description box. Enhancing items also helps you level up your relationship with shops, levelling up your relationship with shops means greater discounts and items.
In terms of technical issues with the game, the only major issue of note is poor lip-syncing during in-game cutscenes.
Graphically the game runs at 60fps with a smooth transition between combat and exploration. In terms of audio, the music is captivating with the game’s instrumental focused track helping elevate the emotions the game is attempting to convey at the time.
Tales of Berseria is the darkest and most emotion-driven Tales of game to date. The game also explores humanity and the struggle between reason and emotion.
|+ Emotional story||– Combat is a bit weak|
|+ Well developed and engaging characters|
|+ Numerous side-activities|
|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/.