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Tales of Berseria
Score: 97%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studio Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
To date, I have played quite a number of Tales games. Until now, I think Tales of Vesperia was my favorite. As of now though, Tales of Berseria has become my new favorite game and Velvet is one of my favorite characters of any game. The complexities of these characters are amazingly well done.

If youíve played any of the Tales games, then you know how they look. The style is exactly the same. It is an animated game with cutscenes that look like they are from an anime. Whatís different on Tales of Berseria really comes down to the textures as they are so much richer than the previous games. The water is sparkling clear and simply beautiful, leaving me wanting to go to the beach. The monsters are so much more dimensional, detailed, and bright. The characters are quite unique, especially when you start finding the therions. It took a creative mind to come up with all these varied creatures.

Every time you launch Tales of Berseria, it will ask if you want to play in English or Japanese, so youíre not stuck with whichever you choose. They did a really great job with the voicework for both of them, so feel free to switch around if you want. They only speak out loud outside of battle, other than words of encouragement, so you wonít be missing anything if you play in Japanese and read the subtitles for cutscenes. Personally, I tend to go with the English version.

I must say that I absolutely adore the music in Tales of Berseria. There are quite a number of scores that are perfectly appropriate for the settings. Since a lot of this game is quite dark, especially at the beginning, expect some dark sounding accompaniment. Personally, Iíd really like to own the soundtrack!


Gameplay:
Tales of Berseria is the latest installment in a long line of RPGs. Actually, you will see a lot of references to the previous games while you are playing. They mention then in the history skits and even in the mini-games that you can play. Of course, you do not have to have played any of the previous games as Tales of Berseria stands on its own just fine! It is a very long story, but I found that I never got bored of the cutscenes. They did a great job of balancing story with combat.

While there is a very complex storyline and a lot of characters, you will find that overall, they are motivated by revenge. This story is much darker than a lot of the others and you will see that reflected in the story, characters, and scenery. Velvet is one of the most ruthless and calculating characters ever, and I absolutely love her! Underneath, she really does have a heart (maybe). At the start of the game, Velvet is a normal 16 year old girl being raised by her brother-in-law, Artorius. Artorius is an exorcist, so he can see the Malakhim, but most people canít see Malakhim. They think they are just spirits. Years ago, Artorius rescued Velvet and her brother Laphicet, but failed to save their sister (his wife). Very shortly, things will go very wrong, and a truly changed Velvetís only desire is Artoriusí head on a platter.

As she strives to achieve this goal, Velvet manages to gain an odd assortment of beings that she can use to her advantage. Rokuro is a daemon swordsman who has his own goal to find and murder. Heís an amusing character. Heís shockingly upbeat and positive, convinced that he will succeed, or die trying. Magilou will also tag along with you, and eventually join in the fight. Sheís an odd character, to say the least. Iím not sure what I really think about her, but she is entertaining. If I were Velvet, Iíd probably have killed her though, simply because she loves to stir up drama! They will pick up Eizen soon enough. Heís a Malak. Now that everyone can see the Malakhim (thanks to Artorius), Eizen is part of a pirate crew. He also has the worst luck of anyone in the world; itís his "reaperís curse." Velvet also kidnaps a young Malak, who is only known as Number Two. She and the group bring some life back into him, and give him a name. If you played the demo, you know already that Eleanor is part of the group, but that Velvet doesnít trust her. Eleanor is stuck going along with your group, but she learns a lot of truth about the world along the way, leaving her to decide what she really believes and who she really trusts.

This motley crew of humans, daemons, exorcists, Malakhim, and a witch already has a huge task in trying to kill Artorius and the ones that the rest of the crew seek, but to make matters worse, things are changing in this world. The demonblight is getting worse, leaving entire towns corrupted. The abbey has more or less taken control of all the leadership and the armies, but they donít seem to really be helping things. Along the way for revenge, it seems like this crew is going to either destroy the world, or possibly save it somehow. Personally, I canít wait to find out which!

I do want to mention that you should check out the downloadable content. Normally, I just ignore that stuff because I am not going to pay for costumes for characters that I can find in-game. However, this content is amusing. You download the catalogue for free. There are things that you can buy in there that can make your game easier, but you really donít need them. There is one free item each week (so far). But what you really want to see are the skits. There are some hilarious skits that come free with the catalogue. They arenít necessary to the storyline, but they will make you laugh.


Difficulty:
Compared to previous games, I find Tales of Berseria to be on the easier end. As a rule, I play the games on Normal, which is what Iíve done this time. Every Tales game has had the "difficult" monsters. You can tell which ones they are on the map because they are huge and look a lot harder than anything else in that area. In the previous games, Iíve usually had to skip them and go back after I level up a bit. This time they are easy to find. Theyíre marked on the map with a red dot. I have yet to have to go back and level up to beat one. So far Iíve run through them all easily. Usually at this point in the game, I will have died at least a few times, just because I like to run and kill rather than bother with guarding. Thus far in Tales of Berseria, I have not died at all and I think I have only had to use maybe 10 life bottles. I find that I am trying to get the enemies to group up so that I have "dangerous encounters" just to make it a bit more difficult. Since they do provide so many harder options than Normal, you can just make the game harder. You have the option of Simple, Normal, Moderate, Hard, or Intense.

If you are having trouble or wanting to play on harder levels, donít forget to enhance your items to make them better. You can buy new equipment or use equipment that you find. Either way, you can enhance weapons with materials that you find on your travels. Even better, you can disassemble equipment that you donít want. I found that was by far the easiest way to get the materials I needed to make the things that I wanted. I never had a shortage of gald (money), so there was no need to sell things.

You will also find that there are Tales Coins that you can find and earn. These can be traded in at the places that you can earn them for items. Most of the items are funny, like amusing attachments and costumes, but they also have potions and such that can really help out in a pinch. Be sure to check out the games and earn those coins, just in case. Plus, there are a wide range of games, so Iím sure youíll find something you like to play.

Donít forget about your Expeditions! Once you have the second ship, you will be able to send it out on scouting missions to map the world. These can bring back items, recipes, and skills that are quite handy. The ship returns every 30 minutes, whether or not you are playing the game, so you can go check in periodically and send it back, even if youíre doing something else. Your ship will level up as it explores.


Game Mechanics:
Having played this series before, I found that it was really easy to get the hang of the controls in Tales of Berseria. They are pretty much the same as the other games. You have a map, which is quite handy for those of us with no sense of direction. The mini-map is in the upper left of your screen and (Square) will bring up the full area map. You can zoom in and out if you need to read it better. (R1) shows your objective, in case you forget what you are supposed to be doing. In battle, (R1) lets you see info on the enemies and switch targets. (L1) defends and (L1) plus left or right on the D-pad will change character. (L2) triggers mystic artes, which are really powerful! (Triangle) will show skits when available in the bottom right corner. The left stick moves your characters and the right stick moves the camera, but these are just some of the controls. You can press the Options button and pull up controls at any time if you forget how to do something.

Tales of Berseria not a turn-based RPG. You can attack or defend as you will. You can set your character on Semi-Auto control, which will keep you facing the enemy that you have targeted or you can put yourself on Manual, which will let you pretty much do what you want. Semi-Auto can have its advantages, especially if you are playing two players, since you canít move the camera in combat with two players, but for the most part, Manual is more like most combat RPGs. If you want to have a friend fight with you, you just have to turn on a second controller and set that character to Semi-Auto or Manual as well. It can be handy having a real person fight, but as I said, you canít move the camera, so that does have some limitations.

Tales of Berseria is a very long game. Iím 35 hours in and *just* unlocked the geoboard that was available in the demo. I still havenít unlocked the fishing mini-games yet. I do choose to take on all side missions and try to complete everything, but I think even running straight through and just doing the story, youíll be well over 60 hours easily. I have no clue how long it will take to unlock and complete everything. If youíre looking for an amazing RPG with a great story, check out Tales of Berseria today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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