Tales of Berseria is not your typical Tales of game. It takes the bright and often light-hearted JRPG series to a darker, mature place. It’s still about colorful anime characters exploring their world and duking it out with monsters in an active-time battle system, but the story this time around deals with a heroine who is half monster and enjoys killing. It’s certainly a fresh perspective for the long-running series, and it’s also a fantastic RPG.
Tales of Berseria
Developed and published by Bandai Namco
Available on the PC and PS4. Reviewed on the PC.
*Review code provided by Bandai Namco
In Tales of Berseria, players take on the role of Velvet Crowe, a young woman who is transformed into a bloodthirsty daemon after an exorcist’s ritual to stop daemonblight – which turns ordinary folk into monsters – claims her arm. Seeking revenge against Artorius, a former ally who performed the ritual and also cost the life of her brother Laphicet, Velvet escapes her prison in search of the powerful exorcist, joined by other daemons and pirates with different motivations.
The plot in Tales of Berseria is much serious than what’s typically presented in the Tales series, and it’s a welcome addition that’s sure to entertain fans and newcomers. Velvet is a hardened protagonist that’s into violence and revenge, and her quest to find her target is one full of heartache and sacrifice, as the world is full of daemons and exorcists that hunt them, but not everything is as clear cut as it seems. While the varied cast of companions bring forth the series’ signature lightheartedness and quirky dialogue, the overall plot is one that’s much more mature and edgier than what’s typically been presented. It makes for a fun, occasionally somber, violent, and well-written entry that will hook in players and never let go throughout the whole experience.
The gameplay however is pretty similar to past installments in the series, with players exploring a large variety of colorful towns and dark dungeons, and facing off against scores of terrible monsters and enemy humans. Exploration has players trek across towns and environments, talk to NPCs, stop by shops to stock up on supplies and equipment, collect orbs to unlock save special trapped cats, and search for chests that contain goodies. The dungeons and environments are well designed, colorful, spacious and varied, though they occasionally seem lifeless, generic and dull.
Combat is where the gameplay has mostly been revamped, with a stronger focus on fluid action, as it’s full of quick strikes, blocks, and dodges. Once again players will encounter enemies in the environment, and running into them will initiate combat. There Velvet and crew run around a circular arena, fending off an assortment of foes in real time, and will use regular attacks in combination with Artes (the series’ special moves) to deal damage. Action is much quicker and flashy however, with players zipping around the arena dealing damage through combos, and dodging enemy strikes to get the upper hand.
Souls are the new currency needed to use Artes (instead of the usual TP), so there’s also some strategy to the mix as using them consumes Souls, but stunning enemies, defeating them or applying status effects adds to the pool, letting players link even more attacks to deal loads of damage. Enemies can also do the same and steal souls back, so players have to keep an eye on their Soul Gauge at all time, or risk getting their attacks blocked and counterattacked. Players also get access to Break Soul abilities, which are special, overpowered attacks that are devastating, but temporarily sacrifice a soul in order to be used. This means that players can turn the tide with the Break Artes, but will also have one less soul to use for a while, so there’s high risk/reward. Players can also use items in combat, issue commands to partners, and switch between characters when necessary. The combat system is fun, flashy and involving, so fans will definitively dig getting into fights.
Tales of Berseria also allows players to customize their characters in order to power them up for battle. Players can get new weapons and armor from vendors and chests that will improve stats like attack, defense and armor, as well as teach unique abilities once a piece of gear is mastered. Velvet and team will also be able to learn new Artes as well, further developing their combat options. These are standard JRPG bells and whistles, but the various options available in the game are pretty nice and allow players to mix it up according to their playstyles.
Overall, Tales of Berseria is an excellent addition to the long-running JRPG series, mixing a mature tale with the series’ tried-and-true gameplay. While it doesn’t change the formula much, the quick and action-packed combat is sure to please fans looking for a good time.