Tales of Berseria Review: Best Tales Game I’ve Played So Far.

5 stars
Coming into
Tales of Berseria, I was optimistic yet cautious about how my experience would be.
I had heard good things about the game, however, I knew that Berseria was a loose prequel to Zestiria and I found that game to be a bit of a mess with its mostly bland cast and story, and needlessly complicated system.
So, imagine my relief when I was in the first few hours of Berseria and was already ten times more invested in the characters, story and gameplay than I ever was with Zestiria.
In fact, I would go as far to say that this is my favourite Tales game that I have played so far, even beating out Vesperia.
Developed once again by Bandai Namco, and directed by Yoshimasa Tanaka, Tales of Berseria follows the story of Velvet Crowe (Cristina Vee, English Dub), a Daemon on a mission of revenge to take out the man who took everything from her.
Velvet’s quest for vengeance is a gripping one that sees her go through quite the character arc.
Many say her character arc stagnates until the last ten hours of the game and, while I can see what they’re saying, I personally liked a lot of the subtle moments we got from her before this point.

Even when her character isn’t developing, Velvet has a lot of subtle moments that kept me engaged with her character.

Velvet being like this also gives the game time to get you acquainted with the likeable party members.
There’s the sweet as a button Malik Laphicet (Amber Conner), the virtuous Exorcist, Eleanor (Erica Mendez), the fighting addicted Daemon, Rokurou (Benjamin Diskin), the wise yet cursed Malik, Eizen (Taliesin Jaffe), and the sly and eccentric witch, Magilou (Erica Lindbeck).
All of these party members are great to be around and fun to watch grow, with my favourites probably being Velvet, Laphicet and Eleanor. 
It’s also cool how, unlike with pretty much every Tales game, you could be considered to be playing as the villains here.
Overall, would I say I enjoy the main cast as much as I do Vesperia’s?
No, I still like that cast a little more but it’s still close, and given how much I love the main party of Vesperia that is saying a lot.
Two things that Berseria definitely has over Vesperia in terms of characters, though, is its antagonists and supporting characters.
In Vesperia, with the exception of Duke, all of the villains were one dimensional and boring, along with most of the side characters.
This is not the case with Berseria where every single villain is great, especially the main antagonist Artorius (Ray Chase), and many of the side characters, like Dyle and Kurogane, are very memorable. 

Artorius is a fantastic antagonist who perfectly encapsulates the themes of the game.

The story surrounding these characters is also amazing and suits them and their arcs well, with the theme of emotion vs reason.  
Heck, I think the story was so good that it actually made me appreciate Zestiria a lot more.
Seriously, even though I find Zestiria to have a lot of flaws, I would actually recommend playing it before Berseria because, if I had played Bersiria first, then a lot of the fantastic twists and connections with Zestiria would have meant nothing to me.
Speaking of which, I also enjoyed how Berseria expanded on some characters from Zestiria, most notably Zaveid (Ian Sinclair).
I liked him in Zesitiria, but he had no development there.
Berseria, on the other hand, gives him that development, showing how he got to be the way he was at the beginning of the other game and how his pact with Eizen was forged.

Zaveid is a standout side character in Berseria with his dynamic with Eizen being particularly greart.

The final thing I will praise about Berseria’s story is how it was able to bring so much emotion out of me.
I was shocked at certain points, excited at others, laughed with the characters, and even teared up during one incredibly emotional moment between Velvet and Laphicet.
The story and characters of Berseria are just amazing but what about the gameplay?
Well, I am glad to say that you can finally listen to what I have to say about Tales’ gameplay without a pinch of salt because I finally figured out how to play one.
I was new to the series with Vesperia, so was naturally pretty bad at the gameplay there and Zestiria’s was way too complicated for me, but I actually managed to get a good handle of Berseria’s.
I figured out how to power up the characters and their weapons, how to cook, send scout ships, and what play style suited me best.
All in all, I can say that the gameplay for Berseria is a lot of fun.
Each character is unique in their own way and it is fun to rotate which one you are playing.
I mostly found myself playing as Velvet and Eleanor because I found that their play styles worked the best for me. 

Close range, long distance, a mixture of both, each of the characters offer one of these play styles.

One criticism I can give, though, is that Velvet’s demon claw attacks are pretty over powered and it is very easy to constantly spam it if you have the right amount of souls to attack.
Speaking of the souls system, I have heard some criticize it but I personally enjoyed it because it made me have to think tactfully about how I would tackle different enemies.  
As for those enemies, a lot of them were pretty fun to fight and some even offered a unique challenge, like one ridiculously funny level 100 boss, who is thankfully optional.
About the final boss, I actually found them to be pretty easy but that is only because I was enjoying the game so much that I finished most of the side quests before I went and fought him.
The gameplay isn’t completely perfect, though, because dungeons in this game are pretty bland and empty, with the exception of the final one.
That said, this didn’t affect my own, personal enjoyment because I was loving the rest of the gameplay, characters and story too much.
If you like JRPG dungeons, though, you will most likely be disappointed with Berseria’s.
I, however, felt that the game’s few negatives were easily overpowered by its many positives.
I can definitely see myself returning to this game and replaying it again and again in the future. 

Tales of Zestiria Review: This One’s a Mess.

2 and a half stars
I played my first Tales game,
Tales of Vesperia, almost a year ago, when my country went into lockdown because of the pandemic.
Although I struggled with the combat and found the game pretty outdated in certain areas, I still enjoyed many of its aspects, especially its main cast of characters, which probably puts Vesperia in my top ten video game casts.
So, upon stumbling across Tales of Zestiria in a store I, naturally, had to buy it.
Going in, I knew that Zestiria was considered to be one of the weakest games in the series but, wow, is this game a bit of a mess.
Honestly, when I started planning this review it was initially going to be a positive one but, just like my The Rise of Skywalker review, I came up with so many negatives that I couldn’t justify giving this a positive review.
That’s not to say there aren’t good things about Zestiria because there certainly are but the bad and mediocre do outweigh that good here.
Developed by Bandai Namco, and directed by Yuuta Hase and Mari Miyata, Tales of Zestiria is set in the mythical land of Glenwood, where mystical beings known as Seraphim but cannot be seen by human, except for a mere few who have the resonance to do so.
However, a dark force produced by humans, known as Manevolence, threatens both them and the Seraphim, turning them into monsters known as Hellions.
This is where the Shepherd comes in, the mythica hero capable of seeing Seraphim and purifying the Hellions.
Our hero is Sorey (Robbie Daymond, English Dub), the next Shepherd who, along with his close friend and Seraphim Mikleo (Michael Johnston), sets out to purify the world of Manevolence and stop the evil Lord of Calamity who controls the Hellions.

Following this opening prologue, the game delivers an epic opening, “White Light” by Superfly.

The first thing I will say about Zestiria’s story is that it is incredibly generic, with not much of a driving force.
It’s a typical good guys vs bad guys story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for so long it feels like the characters are just wandering around with no clear direction.
Granted, Vesperia had a pretty generic story as well but what it did have in its favor was a clear direction, helped by a fantastic set of characters.
In comparison, Zestiria’s characters are pretty boring and have little to no character development.
Sorey is a hero who is always saved from making the hard choices, Mikleo probably has the most striking lack of character development considering what he learns about his past, Alisha (Alexis Tipton) was completely wasted, Lailah (Carrie Keranen) is pretty annoying and hides crucial information for dramatic effect, and I found Dezel’s (Chris Nioso) story to be pretty problematic with his abrupt “redemption.”
I at least liked Rose (Caitlin Glass) and Zaveid (Ian Sinclair) but, again, they have little to no character development.
The one member of the main party who I found to be a great character was Edna (Kira Buckland) who, even though she didn’t have a lot of development, is just hilarious and her presence alone makes the boring characters interesting for at least a couple of scenes.

Edna instantly won me over with her introduction and she is the game’s most insteresting and funny character.

Then there’s the main villain, The Lord of Calamity, Heldaf (Patrick Seitz), who is also incredibly boring but at least has the benefit of a backstory, which made him slightly more interesting than boring.
Speaking of that backstory, though, having to collect all of the Earthen Historia to find out his past and actually progress the game was such a chore.
With that, I now have to get into the gameplay, which, oh, boy, is also a big mess.
I said in my review of Vesperia that I struggled with its mechanics because I was new to the series and Zestiria really did not help this with how needlessly complicated its leveling up and attack system is.
It often left me scratching my head about what exactly I was supposed to do and, even after completing the game, I’m not entirely sure.
Still, I did like the Armitization parts of the gameplay, although I can see some people’s complaints about how they limit your choices in combat, with the player being forced to keep Sorey and Rose in combat.

While the Armitization system does limit gameplay optinions, it is, at the very least, enjoyable.

I also found the final boss to be pretty rewarding in terms of difficulty, so there was that.
I’m just glad we got to fight it an open area and not an inclosed one, since I never would have beaten the final boss if that happened because the camera is really bad in Zestiria.
Seriously, whenever I entered a dungeon and I had to fight an enemy in a tight corridor, the camera would constantly get stuck and I would have no idea what was happening, more often than not resulting in the party’s inevitable death.
So, overall, Tales of Zestiria is quite a mess.
There’s certainly good things, like some of the character interactions, mostly due to Edna, and I found some bits of combat, like Armitization and the final boss, to be rewarding.
However, the story is extremely generic and has no drive for a while, the characters are mostly boring and have no development, and the gameplay is needlessly complicated with a horrible camera in tight spaces.
At least this game resulted in Tales of Berseria, which I just finished and cannot wait to review because I loved it.
As for Zestiria, though, in my opinion, there’s no better word to describe it than a “mess.”