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.”

Cyberpunk 2077 Review: A Fun, Buggy, Hot Mess.

3 and a half stars
I remember the first time I saw the 48 minute gameplay reveal for Cyberpunk 2077.
It blew my socks off with its quality and I became incredibly excited for its release.
Years passed and each tease got me more and more excited, especially the reveal that Keanu Reeves would play a big part in the game’s story, playing Johnny Silverhand.
My hype for the game was to the point that I was almost as excited for it as I was for The Last of Us Part 2.
However, going in, I knew I had to temper my expectations because it had been hyped up to levels I was sure even it could not surpass.
Yet, I was still confident that CD PROJEKT RED would deliver a complete and finished product.
Then, news came out that they were restricting those who reviewed the PC version, so they could only use footage from the trailers.
Even more suspicious was them completely banning any reviews for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox versions.
At the time, I reasoned that they were just trying to hide the bugs that would be fixed with the day one patch and the game would run fine on my PlayStation 4.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I’m not saying anything new by going over how incredibly buggy the console versions were upon release and, honestly, still are.
I just completed my first playthrough of the game and lost count of how many bugs I encountered.
My game crashed a total of five times, seven if you count the two times I had to quit because a bug made it literally unplayable.
There were a litany of other glitches I experienced, like characters speeding up like they were the flash, the frame rate dropping when driving, characters calling me in the middle of a mission when I’m already talking to another character.

There are numerous bugs in the world of Cyberpunk 2077. Too many to count, in fact.

Not only this but Cyberpunk 2077 is also lacking features that have been in open world games for almost two decades.
The most prominent example of this is the police system, which is 100% broken, as police officers spawn right in front of you and give up chasing you after you get a block away from them.
Driving is also a pain because of how difficult cars are to drive, the already stated low frame rate, and the mini map being way too small.
At least I found driving around on motorcycles to be pretty fun.
However, despite all of these numerous problems, I still found myself having fun with Cyberpunk 2077.
Yes, it definitely should not have been released in this state, but I still found myself enjoying the story, its characters, and gameplay.
You play as V (Gavin Drea for male, and Cherami Leigh for female), a mercenary living in the dystopian Night City, who is hired to steal a biochip from a corpo.
Of course, this heist goes completely wrong and V has to place the biochip in their head to save it.
Unfortunately, after a near death experience, the biochip begins to kill V and replace them with the digitized soul of Johnny Silverhand. 

Keanu Reeves does a great job as Silverhand, although I do find it a bit hard to imagine him as a rockstar with his voice.

And so, V and Johnny have to work together to find a way to remove the biochip, without killing V, encountering a large cast of colorful characters along the way.
Takemura (Rome Kanda), Judy (Karla Tassara), Panam (Emily Woo Zeller), River (Robbie Daymond), Kerry (Mathew Yang King), Jackie (Jason Hightower), I came to care about so many of these great characters, to the point that, when one of them died in a mission, I actually looked up how to save them, then went back and did just that because I liked them so much.
The growing bond between V and Johnny is also great to see, as it grows across the game and Johnny continuously gives you advice on what to do in many compelling missions.
Of these numerous fun quests, I would have to say that my favorite is actually a side quest called Sinnerman.
The opening to that mission is just so intriguing and, as it goes on, it raises some really interesting moral questions about belief, forgiveness and corporate exploitation.
Along with the great quests, there are also some intense gameplay mechanics, with different play styles offered to the different builds you use.
I focused on my stealth and turned my V into a Cyberpunk ninja, occasionally using Mantis Blades to slice up my enemies.
This action went along great with the score, which is absolutely phenomenal in every way.
I can easily see myself listening to this game’s music for years to come.
These great elements of story, character and gameplay combine into the endings, of which there are numerous.
Unfortunately, these endings are mostly based on what you choose right at the end rather than across the game, but they all offer different perspectives for the story, and different conclusions for each of the characters, delivering a satisfying experience.

How the game ends, and who stays in control of V’s body by the end, is entirely up to the player’s actions.

It’s just a shame that this satisfaction is watered down by the extremely buggy nature of the game, and the shady business practices that went towards hiding this from players.
I may have not enjoyed The Last of Us Part 2’s story to the point that it made me personally find playing it to be a negative experience, but at least Naughty Dog didn’t screw with players by releasing a buggy mess.
Once again, I know I’m not the only person pointing out the hypocrisy of a game preaching against corporations when said game falls victim to corporate greed, but it’s still quite depressing.
Cyberpunk 2077 could have been one of the best games of 2020 that delivered a worthwhile experience, even if it could never live up to all the hype.
Instead, it will most likely be remembered for its buggy launch and practicing the very corporate actions it speaks against.
Still a fun game overall but one with a corporate shadow leaning over it. 

Spider-Man PS4: As Good a Movie as it is a Game.

4 and a half stars
Coming into Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4, I did not expect to like the story as much or more than the gameplay but that is exactly what happened.
This is because Spider-Man is not only the best game about the titular web swinger but one of the best movies about him as well.
If you were to just watch the cut scenes and not play the game it would be just as satisfying with its gripping and emotional story.
Developed by Insomniac Games, The game has, in my opinion, the best portrayal of Peter Parker (Yuri Lowenthal) and Mary Jane Watson (Laura Bailey) ever put to screen.
Even better than the ones in all the movie adaptations.

parker and mj
Lowenthal and Bailey are both fantastic in their roles as Peter Parker and Mary Jane with great chemistry to boot.

The basic story sees an older Peter struggling to keep his life as Spider-Man and Peter Parker separate as he works as a scientist, while trying to save New York from a series of villains old, new and familiar.
One thing that really surprised me about the story was how emotionally investing it was.
I did not expect to cry in a Spider-Man game and yet I did here.
The gameplay is fantastic as well, with the swinging mechanics being the true standout.
The game gives you the option to fast travel but I can guarantee that you will barely use it based on how fun it is to swing around New York.
Speaking of, the Big Apple itself is a fully realised open world that really feels alive with its structure, NPCs and numerous side missions, most of which are pretty good.
The fighting mechanics are also very enjoyable, being reminiscent of the Batman Arkham games but with a few tweaks unique to Spider-Man.

gameplay spiderman
The fighting and stealth mechanics in Spiderman are great with the various webbing attacking being a standout.

The game gives you numerous gadgets and suits to help in these fights, which can be upgraded in a good use of the system.
This all leads to some fun boss fights, especially during the last act of the game.
There are a few quick time events here and there but these are spaced out and do not break the flow of the gameplay.
A few criticisms I have of the gameplay though is that sometimes the camera did not work too well in the fight sequences and there were a few minor glitches.
As for the story, the only problems I had with that was that the characters seemed to take things like their friends becoming super villains a little too well.
Otherwise, Spider-Man is an amazing game with both a fantastic story and gameplay.
It sets up a sequel as well and I hope we get it.

Shadow of The Colossus: not a masterpiece but a really fun game.

4 stars
I first heard of Shadow of The Colossus about a year ago on a top 10 list.
I had never heard of this game before then and I had no idea people considered it to be a masterpiece.
So, when I heard about it, I was disappointed that I had never played it and probably never would, due to me getting get rid of my PlayStation 3.
Imagine my excitement then when I heard that Shadow of The Colossus was being remade for the PlayStation 4.
So, I made sure to buy it when it came out to see if it was the masterpiece everyone said it was and, I have got to say, Shadow of The Colossus is a really good game.
It starts off with the playable character Wander traveling to the forbidden land, on his horse Agro, to try and bring the woman called Mono back to life.
Wander speaks with the entity known as Dormin, who promises to bring Mono back to life if Wander kills all the 16 Colossi that roam the Forbidden Land and so our journey begins.

wander.jpg
Wander travels the forbidden land on his trusty (if somewhat annoying) horse Agro.

Shadow of The Colossus is pretty simple from that point forward, with you having to go and slay all the Colossi one at a time.
Other than the Colossi there are no other enemies in the game but each one of them makes up for the lack of enemies.
Fighting these giants almost never stops being epic as you take on opponents 100 times your size.
What also makes the Colossi so fun to fight is that every one of them has a gimmick to defeating them so you will need to change tactics for every Colossi.
Because of this the game always feels fresh.
On top of that, some of the Colossus fights are the best boss fights in gaming.
Colossi like Avion, Dirge and Phalanx were incredibly fun to fight, especially Avion, which was such an interactive boss fight.

Avion
Avion, the fifth Colossus, is my favourite boss fight of the game.

The game also looks beautiful.
Looking at how the game looked previously on YouTube really shows how well they have improved the graphics.
However, even though this game had many fantastic bosses, along with a good story, does that make Shadow of The Colossus the masterpiece everyone says it is?
Honestly, I do not think so.
I certainly enjoyed Shadow of The Colossus but, for me, there are too many technical issues to call this game a masterpiece.
For one, the camera used in this game is one of the worst I have seen.
I was constantly fighting the camera so I could see what was happening and this resulted in me falling off many of the Colossi.
Then there is Agro, who was very annoying to control at times, stopping when coming across a small rock or not doing what I told him to.
Finally, there are the Colossi themselves.
While many are fantastic, some are overly frustrating and downright unfair.
The perfect examples of this are Celosia and Cenobia, two of the worst Colossi in the entire game.
Both are small for Colossi and have pretty unoriginal designs so fighting them is not as interesting as other Colossi, but that is not the problem.
The problem is how unfair they are as bosses, with their charge attack.
If you are hit head on with this attack then you are screwed because both Celosia and Cenobia will give you no time to get back up and constantly ram you until you are dead.
If you are hit once by this, it is almost impossible to dodge their oncoming attacks, making the fight overly frustrating and just not fun.

Celosia
Celosia, the eleventh Colossus and one of the worst due to its unfair charge attack.

But (even though Colossi like Celosia and Cenobia were not fun to fight because of how unfair they were) there were still more fun Colossi than not.
So, while I think Shadow of The Colossus may not be the masterpiece a lot of people claim it to be, it is still a lot of fun and you should definitely check it out.