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.
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.
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.
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.
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.