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Review: Tales of Berseria

The Tales of franchise has been around for a couple of years. It had its high and lows but it’s been here long enough to be mentioned in the same sentence with games like Final Fantasy. There’s something about the Tales of franchise that kept the audience captivated to their screens game after game. Now, it’s time to start your adventure in Tales of Berseria, a darker take on the popular formula.

For my brother!

Tales of Berseria takes place in the world of Desolation, years before Tales of Zestiria. The new introduction video introduces us to Velvet and her little brother Laphicet, both on the run for Daemons. That’s right, the deadly Daemons return in this episode and they are brutally attacking your village. Lucky for you, Arthur the Exorcist arrived just in time to kill all Daemons and rescues the village from what could have been the end of it all. Just when tragedy seems to be over, Arthur’s wife got killed during the attack, leaving him behind as a colder and broken man. The death of his wife doesn’t only affects Arthur’ life but also affects Velvet since Arthur’s wife is her sister.

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Three years have passed since that attack and Velvet became a successful hunter thanks to the training of Arthur. Laphicet showed huge potential but isn’t able to fight, he can’t move around due to a strange disease. Besides that, life just goes on in the village, until the night the moon turned red. The red moon marked the return of the Daemons and Arthur has to find a way to stop them once more. Since he sees no other way, he sacrifices the life of Laphicet in order to close the portals to hell for good. Desperate to save her brother’s life, Velvet got infected by the demon virus and couldn’t stop Arthur in time. The result? Velvet was thrown into prison while Arthur became the national hero. It’s no surprise that this is a story about revenge. A story about a girl trying to stop the man who has taken everything from her.

A dark hero

Velvet is without a doubt the darkest hero we’ve ever faced in a Tales of game. She isn’t the chosen hero or the one that will always do good in order to reach her goals. Velvet is torn between justice and revenge, she isn’t afraid to sacrifice others in order to reach her goal. Since she’s half demon, she soon meets other Daemons wandering around in her world. Since you can’t always tell if someone’ a Daemon, the remaining Exorcist faction made it their goal to eliminate each and every remaining Daemon. This results in a constant war between the two factions and Velvet is standing right in between them.

 

Darker but still good

During your quest for revenge, you’ll meet a lot of other characters, all with their own personalities. If you’ve played other Tales of games before, you know what kind of characters you can expect and Berseria isn’t an exception to this rule. Serious characters are balanced with more immature characters to keep things light and fun to follow. It’s fun to meet the new characters but it’s harder to get a connection with Velvet, especially compared to the other heroes in the Tales of universe. Velvet is darker, more selfish and isn’t afraid to kill. The unpredictableness of her actions transforms her into an interesting but hard to love character during your adventure.

Fight with your soul

Just like the other Tales of games, Berseria offers a lot of enemies and bosses you need to defeat. The Tales of franchise offers real-time combat so you’re never stuck in endless menus. By timing your attacks and defenses just right, you’re able to defeat every enemy the game throws at you. New in Berseria are the so-called Soul Gates, these add an extra layer of strategy to the combat and makes fighting monsters a lot more tactical than we’re used of.

Everything you do will cost you a certain amount of Soul Gates. If you run out of Soul Gates, your attacks will be a lot weaker and you’ll take a lot more damage from attacks. The only way to refill the Soul Gates is by running around without attacking, hoping you can dodge your enemy long enough. Certainly during the more challenging battles it’s of importance to keep your Soul Gate level high so you’re able to perform enough combos without losing the Soul Gates.

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Velvet’s special attack, called Break Soul, enables you to inflict more deadly damage and is an easy attack to string together with your combo. An attack this powerful costs you one Soul Gate that will be added to the Soul Gates of the enemy. When used correctly it can devastate your enemies but if you use it too soon it might mean the end of you. It’s an interesting addition to the already great combat of the franchise. Thanks to the Break Soul attack, combat becomes way more unpredictable and fun.

Not of this generation

The biggest downside of Tales of Berseria is without a doubt its presentation. Just like Zestiria, it was originally released for both PS3 and PS4 in Japan, while we only get the PS4 and PC version. Since it’s a game that needs to run on both devices (PS3 and PS4) it doesn’t look as good as other PS4 games on the market. The characters and their animations look good enough but the environments look too empty and aren’t always as sharp as you would hope for. It’s a shame the franchise hasn’t made the jump to the current generation but Berseria is the last in line that released on both generations so we’re already hoping for a gorgeous Tales of game in the next couple of years.

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Compared to the graphics, the music is once again spot on. This is a big Japanese production so the music is orchestrated with care. The soundtrack is impressive and thrilling at the right time. The music is on another level but the other effects are just transferred from the older games, those need some updates in the future. Aside from that, the music is just perfect.

Conclusion:

Tales of Berseria offers a different take on the popular franchise by adding a darker hero to the story. Velvet is an interesting character who isn’t afraid to kill others. The combat is once again great and the new Soul Gates offer an extra layer of strategy. If you’re a fan of the franchise, this entry is one of the better ones without a doubt and perhaps even a great starting point for those who are new to the franchise. You might not fall in love with Velvet but there’s a chance you’ll fall in love with this game.

8.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.

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