Tales of Berseria is the latest addition to the long-standing Tales series and takes place in the Holy Midgand Empire; where a disease called "Daemonblight" has spread and is transforming humans into mindless monsters. While serving as a distant prequel to Tales of Zestiria, the 50 hour adventure is one the series most memorable as it tells the story of protagonist Velvet Crowe as she embarks on an adventure fueled by revenge.
Velvet is unlike previous main characters in Tales as she has a much darker side that continues to get explored the further you progress in the game. After the opening events, Velvet undergoes a transformation that essentially makes her part Daemon (monster). This newfound power makes her substantially stronger and emboldens her blood lust for vengeance. Velvet's demeanor in Berseria is a reflection of the type of story that is told here as well. Berseria is a much darker game than previous Tales games and ditches the cheerful, blithesome tone in favor of a calamitous one that at times can be a tear jerker.
Accompanying Velvet are a charismatic group of characters such as Laphicet; a low confidence child who is forced to join Velvet. During the game you see Laphicet grow as a character and gain self confidence while opening up more to Velvet. This type of character progression shows in other party members as well. Your adventures will eventually cross paths will multiple party members such as the Daemon Rokurou, the talkative witch Magilou, Eizen the 1000 year old pirate, and the optimistic Eleanor.
These characters all come from different backgrounds and some have their own personal motives for grouping up with Velvet. Tales of Berseria did an excellent job of making me actually care about the groups as a whole as well. Characters are all given plenty of time to develop and there are many dialogue options and quests that are tied to specific characters.
While I enjoyed the story of Berseria, I was left rather unimpressed with how dull the world was to explore. While graphically the game shines with vibrant colors and beautiful landscapes, there really isn't any reason to go explore the gorgeous world. Maps are somewhat linear with few branches. There are some collectibles to be found, but most aren't hidden too well and do not require too much exploring. Unfortunately, about halfway through Berseria you are required to do a lot of backtracking into these same areas as well.
Combat in Berseria should be very familiar to fans as there haven't been any drastic changes to the popular Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS) series developer Namco Bandai uses for the franchise. There are however a few smaller tweaks and additions that have been added to mix things up a little. Once you engage an enemy, you enter a "battle zone". On the surface, combat seems pretty straightforward. Velvet and company use physical and magical attacks as well as "Artes" which gives your character access to their skills. The biggest change to the LMBS this time around is the addition the Soul Gauge. The Soul Gauge is tied to your Artes and lowers every time you use one. If your Soul Gauge is empty, Velvet will be less effective in combat and enemies will block and parry attacks.
When you defeat enemies, you'll fill up your Soul Gauge and will be able to activate your "Break Soul". Break Soul basically allows your character to ignore their attack limits and unleash your most powerful moves. This new system leads to some pretty intense battles as enemies can also steal souls from you and turn the tide of battle. While Velvet is the main character of the game, you can switch her out and play as other characters in and out of combat which allows for a multitude of different combat styles. There is a mulitplayer system here as well. During combat you can set the AI to move automatically or manually. Setting a AI to move manually will allow another controller to be used to take control until the end of the battle.
Tales of Berseria is an excellent game despite its flaws. The cast of characters shine in their own right and are easily some of the most memorable in the series and the combat additions coupled with the engaging plot makes this a game every JRPG fan should play.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09