It’s good to be bad
The Tales franchise has been running steady for more than 20 years, with more than 17 games and an insane amount of ports to other consoles. But it’s no secret that the franchise has been lacking as of late. While there was a lot of fun to find in Tales of Zestiria, many felt the series had lost its spark.
Tales of Berseria hopes to reinvigorate fans love for the franchise by mixing things up a bit. You aren’t the chosen hero born to save the world, in fact, you might just be the bad guys.
Berseria follows Velvet, a young woman who becomes obsessed with killing her old mentor who killed her younger brother and cursed her with a demonic arm. After she escapes a prison, she befriends some inmates and gets them to help on her quest to kill her mentor and destroy the worlds ruling government, all in the name of revenge.
It’s not the typical happy-go-lucky story you’d expect from the Tales series, capturing moments of actual brutality and playing with a lot of suggestive themes. From showing glimpses of slavery to lightly hinting at incest, Tales of Berseria aims to tell a more mature tale in a bleak and twisted world.
That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. Berseria is still a Tales game, and that means it’s still bundled with all the humour and charm that’s made the series stand out for all these years.
All of the characters are almost instantly lovable, and those that appear to be annoying at first quickly manage to wiggle into your heart. The witch Magilou looks to be one of the more annoying
characters in the franchise, but her evolution as a character and use of clever wordplay quickly has her become one of the more entertaining members of the cast.
And it’s a good thing that the characters are all so likable, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them. Berseria is by far one of the longest games in the series as of late, clocking in well over 50 hours. There’s a lot to see and do that can easily tide you over for weeks on end.
However, the game does expand its playtime artificially sometimes, making the player backtrack through large portions of the game. While much of this is due to story reasons, it still feels slightly cheap to have to walk through an area you just trekked across because the gang suddenly need to go back somewhere to get something.
But doing this isn’t always so bad, as it gives you a chance to battle to level up, while also getting to grips with the games new battle system.
Berseria’s battle system is similar to Zestiria, where there are a limited amount of attacks the player can perform before needing to wait for them to recharge, however performing a counter can instantly regain those attacks. However, Berseria changes it up by having normal attacks and arts (skills/magic) use up different bars, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what they are or how any of it actually works. It seems that the game doesn’t even understand, sometimes having magic take up main attacks and sometimes only magic attacks, and sometimes neither!
It’s a wildly confusing system that somehow gets the job done and leaves you confused but happy that you won more times than not.
But what does make sense is the games spirit system. When you attack you lose spirits and have to wait for them to recharge, but every character can expend a spirit to activate a super move or enter a rage mode. During this time the player can deal massive damage, but also loses one of their spirits. If the player can stun or kill an enemy they’ll gain a spirit, and so battles become a tactical mind game of stealing spirits from one another until one emerges victorious.
A nice thing to note is that the game never feels like it’s forcing you to grind. All enemies move slower than you on the field and they never feel like a true threat. The only time the game really asks anything from you is during boss fights, but they’re nothing too taxing.
It’s a more relaxed Tales game that what many might be used to.
Tales of Berseria is a much-needed breath of fresh air for the Tales series. It takes all the series has learnt so far and tries to improve on it even further. While it still has its shortcomings, it’s a massive improvement on a series that was bordering becoming stale. Fans of the franchise shouldn’t lose hope yet.