A welcome reprieve from the long chain of AAA title releases means some time to go back to games that got swept under the pile of new releases in 2017. One of these was Tales of Berseria. I bought it back on its release date on 27th January 2018 but was then distracted from completing it by subsequent releases in what was a very packed quarter, including Resident Evil 7, Nioh, Horizon Zero Dawn and Nier Automata. Does the fact it’s taken me a year to complete make it a less worthy title or is it just a sign that it’s 40+ hours of play gives much better value for money? Well, it’s finally time for me to give my verdict.
Any Tales fans will likely have been left feeling a little let down by the previous title, Tales of Zestiria, which, at least, in comparison to the rest of the franchise proved a fairly average experience. In contrast Berseria was a welcome change. I was surprised to see an entire village annihilated by demons and innocents sacrificed in the opening hours of the game. The Tales games are normally bright and optimistic in nature, yet this title walks a much darker path both in its plot and cast which are a mix of demons, spirits and humans.
In the previous game, I couldn’t list even one character which really stood out for me. They all seemed less interesting versions of characters from previous games. However, Berseria’s is different. Each member of its main cast has their own character, voice and motivations which leads to some interesting and humorous scenes and skits. The game’s plot is set a thousand years before the events in Zestiria and is an exciting rollercoaster of death and misfortune, as our team of misfits battle both demons and clergy alike.
The game mechanics are generally similar to the previous titles but tighter and more enjoyable. The tying of attacks(arts) to the characters soul gauge, which increase as you stun/ crit enemies, does make for some interesting tactical play, as you try to make each attack count while avoiding the loss of the contents of your gauge to enemy attacks. However, it does begin to stagnate later in the game, as repetitiveness sets in along with the grind of battling through mainly linear environments. This isn’t helped by the obvious effort to lengthen the game by forcing the player to back track, continuously, through the game’s rather bland environments, which, in places, feel almost identical to those from the previous titles.
As with the last title, the graphics still feel rooted in the previous console generation. The environments are on the whole hindered by a lack of detail and the textures are of a much lower resolution and quality than you would expect for game developed for a current gen console. That being said, among those mediocre environments, there is the odd gem which does feel worth exploring, and, in places, the atmospheric effects are put to good use to disguise the low res environments.
As with most Tales games, the heart of this title is in its plot and cast and it more than makes up for its limitations in other areas. The story told is refreshing and engaging and does well to maintain a player’s interest.
That being said, if you are looking for a game with deep and satisfying gameplay mechanics then while this may keep you invested in the early game, you may find it start to stagnate later on as the repetitive game play and simple switch based puzzles start to wear thin. Without investment in the story, this title is unlikely to feel worth completing on the merits of gameplay alone.
Overall, I did enjoy my time playing this game. I connected with the characters in Berseria far more than I did with the previous title’s cast, and the game certainly delivers a satisfying build up and conclusion. I just wish that the environments and dungeons had been treated to a little more originality and designed to use the full processing power of the platform. If you enjoy JRPGs or are a fan of the Tales games then this is certainly a game well worth playing. However, if you are not already a fan of the genre then it’s unlikely this title will convert you. You would be better off giving Persona 5 a go.