Tales of Berseria is the long-awaited pseudo-prequel to 2015's Tales of Zestiria (which we loved). Set in the same world, Berseria takes place many centuries prior to the events of Tales of Zestiria, where the world is torn asunder by daemons during a Scarlet Night (which is also, occasionally referred to as the crimson moon) and the young protagonist Velvet is on a crusade of revenge and hatred. Velvet and her merry band of misfits will embark on a journey that tries to be something that it is not. A poor script, struggling combat mechanics, and a world full of contradictions, Tales of Berseria is one of the weakest in the long-running franchises.
To note ... there will likely be mild spoilers here; I cannot talk about the issues that I have had without spoiling some of the content in Tales of Berseria. If you do not wish to read said spoilers, STOP READING NOW.
This will likely be an unpopular opinion, one in which many people will likely claim that it is "just for the clicks" or that the entire article is click-bait. Take it any way you want it, but we at Chalgyr's Game Room have written about our experiences with a title, good or bad, for years now. Some here, like Pierre-Yves or Richard, have had different experiences in Tales of Berseria than I have, and may or may not agree to the writings in this review. That is fine, great even; I welcome open, respectful, and constructive conversation in the comments below. In fact, I would love to hear what their (and your) experiences have been in Tales of Berseria, as friendly conversation is always great!
That said ... Tales of Berseria is not a good game. To be honest, I am utterly blown away at all the 8's and 9's that Berseria is getting as my experiences with one of my most beloved franchises has been utterly deplorable. To start, the combat; many reviewers have said that the combat is archaic and feels old, and to a point, I agree ... But I think it "feels old" in the same way that a first person shooter "feels old." All FPS games are the same; you have crosshairs, a trigger, and a target. When the cross-hair and target line up, you pull the trigger. Saying that the combat is old and a big drawback in Berseria is a farce. This is the trademark style of the Tales franchise (that and the skits), of course they are going to use the same combat! My issue with the combat is how bloody slow and poor the mechanics are. Velvet is an scantily-clad acrobatic daemoness who is constantly flipping and flitting about the battlefield with neat *whoosh* sounds and can put an metric ton of hits on an enemy in no time flat. Concept is cool, right? Implementation is horrible.
Many of the cooler moves that Velvet and gang will pull off cause this awkward pause once the move is complete. This pause seriously breaks the flow of the signature Tales combat and, in the later points of the game, where everyone is just throwing hidden artes out left and right, causes some serious performance issues. Do not get me started on the two forms of stun-lock that happen. There is the actual status ailment "stun" and then there is the stun that you get hit with whenever an enemy lands a punch. The first type of stun you can deal with easily, through items or through stun-preventing gear, the second? You cannot prevent outside of "do not get hit" which is not going to be all that simple, since may enemy attacks cover a wide range of the relatively small combat area (in fact, there are three or for enemies near the end game where it is nearly impossible to get away from an attack as it takes up the ENTIRE combat area). The second stun is so bad that the only wipes that I actually had the entire game were on two different basic mobs; the first type are of the Geo Roller variety (little roll-y poll-y bugs that hop into the air, curly up into a ball, then roll at you and hit you a good 4 to 6 times)., if you get hit for the first one, you will be stun-locked; the biggest issue? You normally get into fights with 8 of these guys, and when even 3 or 4 come at you, you can, and will, wipe. The other variety are these big flying hawks that are insanely fast, have a HUGE attack spread as they shoot feathers out of their wings, three of them easily cover a good 60-70% of the are, except you get hit a good 12-15 times. If even two of these attack you, and you are not readily blocking, you will die. Fun fact; they show up in groups of 6 to 8. Prepare to rage.
On the topic of combat ... let us take a moment to talk about aiming. In past Tales you would find a bad guy and you would attack it. Simple, right? Not so in Berseria, oh no, it would rather you go off and simply hit the air because the aiming is horrible. My long-dead and quite awesome rats (rest in peace Zoe and Shade) have better aim than Berseria. What makes this so glaringly bad is that while your characters will get stuck in that second stun-lock (you know, the one you cannot prevent?), that same restriction is not in place for the enemy. This means that while you are pulling off this totally rad set of moves, the enemy simply ... moves. While being hit. Then, guess what? They hit you from behind and, you guessed it, stun lock you. Combat in Berseria is bad enough that the last 4 hours of the game were me bypassing every single enemy just to get to the boss, because good heavens is combat bad. I would love to provide you with all manner of recordings ... except in their infinite wisdom, Bandai Namco disables the share functionality. Makes it awfully difficult to provide their development team with any useful records of shit performance ...
Enough about combat... So the story? Yeah, the story! Call past Tales what you will, but I personally love their stories. Hokey and cliche? Absolutely! But by the end of the game I always had a deep respect for the characters, the Japanese seiyu or English actors, the writers, and pretty much everyone associated with the title... Berseria is something new, something different, and I have to hand it to them for trying. 2016 in all of its horrible-ness, gave us gamers something new in the aspect that one of the best games of the year was about being the villain (see Tyranny). Berseria seemed to be trying to do the same thing; you (Velvet) are not a nice person, and you are hell-bent on revenge, and you are going to do everything you can no matter the consequences to see your vengeance sated. Velvet and her roguish band of ne'er-do-well miscreants are to take on the world!
Pack. Of. Lies.
Tales of Berseria is a group of nice guys and gals running around with a hot co-ed on PMS pretending to be angsty, angry, mean people. Tales of Berseria is fake and a single, massive contradiction. I think that best sums it up; fake. Contradictory. The skits between Eizen and Rokuro and their heart-warming and near-parental advice for the rest of these "evil bastards" is absolutely contrary to the whole concept that the game tries to push on you from beginning to end. Velvet starts off as a great young woman, tragedy strikes, and she get pissed, and rampages and that is awesome then ... no, she decides that sometimes she is a goody-two-shoes, then other times she does not care and is back to her angry ways, until the final act where she just ... is a good guy that is determined on stopping the bad guy that is suddenly hellbent on the destruction of the everything. Complete role-reversal. On top of that (and I do not know how other review sites have not called this out) the timeline in game is all sorts of messed up. Daemons ... when did they show up? In some cases, according to the game, it was 10 years prior, during the Crimson Moon, in others (read some of the lore bits lying around, or better yet! Wait till you get to the third "act" where you are reading from ancient tomes that are thousands of years old that talk about this very thing that didn't happen until 10 years ago, but not in the prophetic "this will happen" way, but in the "gee, this is what happened, it sucked, but we dealt with it this way" kind of way) ... it was hundreds / thousands of years prior. Seriously messed up.
The typical Tales "go here, do the thing, then go back, do another thing, oh look, the thing you were trying to do is now over here" is here, but in full force. You "catch up" to the main ... uh ... "good" guy? ... like four freaking times, but nope "you are not strong enough, trollolololol" as he skips his way off to a spot that you were already at, thus causing you yet another backtracking trip. While other Tales titles had plenty of backtracking, it was nowhere near as bad as Berseria. Serious question; how many of you played Dragon Age 2? How many of your were less than thrilled with the copy/paste of EVERYTHING in that game? Yeah, me too (though I still enjoyed Dragon Age 2, to a point). Now imagine taking the same copy/paste concept, and apply it to Tales. Voila! You have Tales of Berseria. I am fairly positive they had three, maybe four different very slight differences (read: different color) in the NPCs. In fact, I walked into a village (the ONE unique village, named Yseult) and counted the duplicate, not ever varied color, NPCs. 8 identical female NPCs, 6 identical male NPCs. In an area that had about 20-25 NPCs in it. Ridiculous.
The story could have been a lot of fun, and as Berseria has some excellent voice actors behind the faces (both the Japanese seiyu and the English voice actors), it could have been easy. Except it is not easy because the script is horrible. There are a few lines of dialog that shine here or there, but they are few and far between. Magilou, the eccentric 'witch' of the group, is by far the most animated and is (I think) the second strongest in the game in terms of dialog. They played around a lot with her and Erica Lindbeck's performance shown because of the relative freedom that the character was written into the game with. The others? Not so much. In fact, the best lines in the game came from a minor character, Tabatha, who you will meet at the end of the first "chapter." Her lines are thoughtful, well-written, and executed by some unlisted voice actor in a way that is entirely believable and is the only piece of Berseria that actually felt truly honest and real. Even the background OST feels fake, as in a rare turn for the Tales franchise, the background tracks are forgettable and incredibly repetitive. So much so that I simply turned it off and through on the Graces F and Zestiria OST.
In total I came away from the 40+ hours in Berseria confused, angry, and completely lost. Tales of Berseria is trying desperately to be something more, to evolve the tried-and-true franchise staples, and rather than being innovative, it has devolved and actually taken the franchise a step backwards. When reading up on the marketed concept of Berseria, you are told that "Players embark on a journey of self-discovery as the assume the role of Velvet, a young woman whose once kind demeanor has been replaced and overcome with a festering anger and hatred after a traumatic experience three years prior to the events within Tales of Berseria" (found here).
That entire statement is patently false, as Berseria is a tale about a good girl, that tries to be angry, hanging out with a group of people that are about as fake as fake can get (who are also trying to be angry, but failing at it), on a path that started out as revenge and instead turned into a bid to save the world (would someone hell-bent on revenge and hatred ... really push to save the world?). Without a doubt, Tales of Berseria is the one to skip. Sure there are a great number of Easter eggs throughout the game, but Easter eggs cannot be the biggest redeeming factor in a game; at that point you are simply playing the footnotes in a long-running franchise, and that is a disservice to not only the past games that we all love so much, but also to those that are yet to come. Tales of Berseria is an black mark on one of the most beloved JRPG franchises to date.
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Bandai Namco Entertainment
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Article by Robert