Tales of Berseria Review: Setting Sail for Revenge
Tales of Berseria is the latest title in the Tales of series from Bandai Namco Games. It follows lead character Velvet, who at the beginning of the game is a nice girl who does everything she can to take care of her brother Laphicet. She’s also close to her brother-in-law, Artorius, who ended up saving her and Laphicet when they were children. However, a scarlet night occurs turning everyone except Artorius, Velvet and Laphicet into Daemons.
To avoid spoilers as much as possible from here on out, traumatic events occur with Artorius betraying Velvet. Following those events, Artorius ends up becoming the savior of the world and Velvet ends up in jail as her arm became infected with daemonblight. The kind person Velvet used to be completely vanishes into the shadows, as hate and anger consumes her. Three years end up passing before Velvet finds an opportunity to escape her prison, and she uses this opportunity to seek revenge against Artorius while not caring one bit about anything that gets in her way.
That’s the premise of Tales of Berseria, and that’s the storyline that will drive players forward throughout the game. It’s interesting to see the transformation Velvet goes through from being a nice person that then becomes completely engulfed by hate and her need for revenge against Artorius.
Throughout the journey, Velvet encounters multiple characters that end up joining her on her quest for revenge. Each character has their own reasons for walking alongside Velvet, and sometimes it’s not always clear exactly why they are together outside of the excuse of just being curious. One of the main characters is a younger kid who is a Malak, known as No. 2, someone who used to be under the control of the Abbey (team Artorius). He is a character that at first only knew how to obey orders and nothing else, but since falling in line with Velvet and the rest of the group he started to become more than a soulless person that only followed orders. Instead, Velvet takes him in and begins to treat him more like her younger brother and even names him after her brother, Laphicet.
Velvet’s anger is present throughout, but it’s interesting to see moments of calming when dealing with Laphicet as he reminds her a lot of her younger brother. It makes the story more interesting to follow through the journey. It’s also nice to see Laphicet develop into a more curious person that does start to question everything and express his feelings.
There’s also an Exorcist of the Abbey, known as Eleanor, that ends up following Velvet and crew. She’s probably the most interesting character outside of Velvet as she comes from the background of being loyal to the Abbey and Artorius. However, certain actions take place and she ends up joining Velvet and company even though it’s not by her own will. This leads to mistrust in the group as Eleanor has a pretty strong hatred toward Daemons, which includes Velvet and Rokurou – another main character that’s introduced early on. However, what makes Eleanor the most interesting is that on the journey she’s realizing that the group is trying to uncover truths about what exactly the Abbey is up to, information that she wasn’t privileged too when she was working directly for them. This makes the story fascinating between those two, because even though they are so very different and pretty much despise each other, they end up working together to uncover the truths of Artorius and the Abbey for their own personal reasons.
Sadly, while I enjoy the group as a whole, I found myself not really interested in the other characters. They each have their own unique storylines, such as Rokurou and his conflict with his brother, but it’s all just filler that’s not really engrossing. There’s also Magilou who is a witch, but an annoying one during most of the conversations. Worst of all, she has a Malak partner who is a small little guy that makes Magilou’s annoyances seem trivial. His name is Bienfu, a character that’s probably around to lighten the mood with silly and unimportant banter, which I’ll admit there were a couple of moments I found funny. However, for the most part, I end up quickly skipping through his nonsense. It’s pretty much a complete waste of time to listen to him whine, and while at first I could put up with him, I just can’t anymore.
There’s also another main character known as Eizen who I actually do like in a supporting role. He’s a pirate that’s known as the Reaper. Bad things seem to follow him everywhere he goes, so it seems that Velvet and company is an ideal group for him to join. I do appreciate his insight and contribution to the team, but some of the backstory following him isn’t too interesting either.
Like most RPGs, the further one gets in the game the better it becomes and the more it starts to really ramp up. It also helps with getting more familiar with each character as they are further established into the storyline. I mention this because for close to the first 15 hours of playing Tales of Berseria I didn’t really like the group all that much. But the longer they’re around the more I start to appreciate them, outside of Beinfu.
Currently I’m only just over the 25-hour mark. I mostly skipped all side quests and maintained a quick rush through the main story missions. Because of this I’m probably as far as one can get through 25 hours of time, especially as I had many moments of avoiding battle. There’s some backtracking and long treks that take place that makes battling over and over and over again a bit tiresome. That’s definitely one small complaint about some of the area designs. I have moments where I struggle dealing with the need to go back and forth through the same areas again and again. There are a few required missions that send players out on quests like this through areas they’ve traveled before.
The quest for revenge has its slower moments where progression feels sidelined by random stops rather than providing the feeling of a new exciting area that’s important to the progress of the game. Thankfully in these slow moments there are other reasons that keep players interested in driving forward.
It’s the little things the make a big difference in the enjoyment process of Tales of Berseria. Being able to play a mini-game in the menu by sending out a ship to explore and collect items every 30 minutes of real time is fun and entertaining. I mean, It’s the littlest of little things possible, but I like it so much! Players only need to tell the ship which location to explore and it’ll do it. There’s no more to it. Once it gets back, it’ll tell you how many victories or losses it had while away, which I’m still not entirely sure what winning or losing a battle means. However, these expeditions do end up returning with new food items and recipes for players to use, along with skills and items, and even unique treasure that’s kept in a cabin to look at any time.
After each exploration of the ship it’ll rise in level as well. The higher the level the more it can do when exploring the sea. Some of the skills that can be learned allow it to have a higher rate of success in its three engagements per trip. Also, another skill that’s learned allows time to be taken off the 30-minute clock, so it can become a 25-minute expedition instead. It’s definitely a fun addition even though it’s a simple mini-game, but I love it. Give me a moment while I tell them to go find more treasure!
Players can also find entertainment in different towns as there are Katz that host mini-games. These games can earn players more outfits if they beat each game within certain parameters. This includes popping a set number of balloons with attacks and doing as much damage as possible against a target, all within a specific amount of time. In addition to these mini-games, I also came across a fellow that plays a Tales card game.
The Tales card game features characters from our favorite Tales of series and each card has a certain character role on it. Even after reading the rules I still didn’t understand how to play, but three hours later I became a master and couldn’t stop defeating the AI. I wish it kept track of wins and losses and most points scored, because I played a lot and would love to see those numbers. It ends up becoming a lot of fun even though it can be random luck of the draw sometimes. It’s important to analyze the cards that are on the table and in your hand to identify the best play. Players earn points by getting a specific amount of a certain type of card or by collecting an entire set of cards that features all Tales characters from a single game. Once players get points, they can choose to keep playing that round or to stop play immediately and take the points, ending the round. It’s almost always important to end the round and run with the points when you can, because if you have points and decide to play, and then the computer earns points, it can stop play then and you’ll lose all your points earned in that round.
The Tales card game may sound confusing, and it certain is at first, but once I got used to it I found myself really enjoying my time playing it. Plus, the more you play and win, the more Tales Coins players earn that can be used to purchase outfits and items.
The gameplay in Tales of Berseria is a lot of fun for the most part. While exploring the lands there are items scattered everywhere, and maybe even more so than in previous Tales games. Almost every corner features an item buried in the ground. There are also spheres everywhere to pick up in order to unlock treasure chests that have characters known as Katz in them. When players unlock and free the Katz, often times they’ll earn an item from them, including gear and outfits. If you’re like me and want to earn as many collectibles as possible for your characters to wear, then obtaining any sphere in sight is very important.
Battles are also fun as players will earn new abilities as they level up. There are multiple attacks, along with power attacks known as Artes that allow Velvet to get out her daemon infested arm to do massive attacks against enemies. There are also special attacks that can only be used every so often that deal great amounts of damage. These are key to use against the biggest bosses or the challenge daemons which are basically bosses. The special challenge daemons scattered across the lands earn extra gold for players when they turn in their findings to a certain group of people also scattered amongst the towns. Going after these “Red Level” demons is pretty exciting as you never know what you might encounter. This is especially true as some of my recent battles have been quite the undertaking.
Even though battles can get a little tiresome at times and the annoyance of some of the backtracking that goes on, I very much do enjoy the battle system and how it works. It’s very engaging for the player during each fight as they can use different attacks and combos to unleash on enemies. However, there’s also the option to let the AI control all characters and for the player to add simple inputs on what to do. When facing one of the Red Level daemons I let the AI do all the fighting while I controlled whether the entire team defends or attacks, switching it up often between each one of the enemy’s attacks.
The atmosphere throughout Tales of Berseria is mostly appealing as well. I love the music from location to location and the art style is absolutely beautiful. There are so many lovely areas full of good color and art that makes the world come alive, especially as players can see the shadows of the passing clouds overhead. It’s fantastic. There are a few dull dungeons to deal with though, but for the most part there is a lot of lovely scenery.
I also want to mention that the character customization is a lot of fun as well. I love discovering and unlocking new outfits for each one of the characters, along with unique items for them to wear. While I still have Velvet in her normal gear, I did change up her hair style and added glasses and an earring. I did change Laphicet’s outfit to a waiter and added a top hate to make him look more like a magician. Additionally, I gave Eleanor sunglasses and headphones to make her look even more untrusting. She must be hiding something! Customization goes a step further too as players can adjust the size of each item players are wearing, which is nice.
Tales of Berseria does a lot of things right for an RPG to keep it interesting and engaging, especially with the little things like customization and mini-games. It’s great to take a break to play a game of cards while waiting for your ship to return with more loot. I also appreciate the core story even though it’s surrounded by some poor dialog and annoying characters. Thankfully, there is enough good and interest to keep me going and I can’t wait to approach the end of the game and see how things turn out.
Review score is based on 25 hours of gameplay. Once I complete the game I will edit additional text below this line and update the score if required.