Tales of Berseria: Looking at the colorful packaging of goods in a supermarket, you have probably come across phrases like: “Cooked according to the technology of the 18th century.” This is hard to believe when it comes to food products, but in the video game industry, this approach is not uncommon. This, of course, is not about the use of technologies of the 18th century and other marketing perversions. We are talking about the careful and efficient use by developers of the principles outlined in a particular video game series several decades ago. And while one company (let’s call it Square Enix) is fiddling with its next offspring for who knows how long, unsuccessfully adjusting it to current trends, another (let’s call it Bandai Namco) steadily rolls out fairly strong releases every couple of years, delighting fans and winning a new audience.
Tales of Berseria is the sixteenth installment in the main line of games in the Tales series. Now it is difficult to determine its serial number in the franchise as such, because in addition to major titles, Tales includes a huge number of all kinds of spin-offs, remakes, portable and mobile games. Be that as it may, this only proves her success and the desire of fans of the Japanese series to follow the new adventures of various charismatic heroes.
This time we are offered to dive into the story of the girl Velvet. The girl lived for herself in the village, took care of her younger brother and tried with all her might to help her guardian Artorius. The latter chose the path of an exorcist – a person who protects the world from a mysterious disease that turns the population into bloodthirsty demons. One terrible night, Artorius decided to play all-in and deal with evil spirits once and for all. Alas, this step cost Velvet’s brother her life, and her humanity herself. After three years of isolation, having mastered the intricacies of owning a new limb – the “Ruby Claw of Genocide” (the name is patented by the author of the review), intoxicated with a thirst for revenge, Velvet sets off in search of the person who stole her most precious thing.
The series skips over its favorite message “You can overcome!” with amazing grace. to an adult multi-layered story. Although the motivation of the first female protagonist of the series lies on the surface, and the outfit is more suitable for BDSM parties, Velvet turns out to be one of the most complex and cutest characters in the entire jRPG genre. Around her traditionally gathers a jamb of characters of various calibers. And if the cheerful demon-swordsman Rokuro and the pirate Aizen more or less organically fit into the company of the demoness, then the gentle malakhim boy, whose gender identity can only be recognized by the most skilled Japanese scholars, and the noisy witch Majilu with a grin that can return Clive Barker’s sphincter to its original condition, look ridiculous and are more suitable for other Tales projects. However, each of them receives worthy development and plays an important role in this exciting adventure. The lines that the characters exchange with each other are written just fine. It is they who help the game build such a dense membrane of relationships between the characters that the player willy-nilly begins to worry about even the most unpleasant team member.
But no matter how dark the story of Tales of Berseria may seem, its setting is still recognizable. The events take place in the world of Tales of Zesteria, albeit many years before the adventures of the Sorey team, and therefore the game does not lose the friendliness inherent in the series. Skeptics are sure to start crowing about stagnation and uniformity in location design, but the fact that Tales’ visual style continues to work cannot be denied. Especially since Bandai Namco manages to reinvent the combat system from time to time. Not always successful, but, fortunately, now everything is fine.
Real-time battles, so beloved by fans and captivating would-be Tales-adepts, are still taken as the basis. The 3D field has finally been returned to us, allowing the player to move freely during the fight and adequately respond to the actions of the enemies. The mechanic is directly tied to the so-called “Soul Scale”, which dries up when a character uses a special move. As soon as its supply is completely exhausted, the hero will open up to enemy attacks. Attempts to break through the defenses of the target will also become useless – after each attempt, your ward will comically fly off a meter in the opposite direction. But by filling the scale, you can activate the “Soul Split” – Velvet will uncover his infernal shovel and, ignoring all sorts of restrictions, will kick the asses of enemies, accompanying the action with beautiful special effects.
Trying to avoid monotony in the process, the developers have provided the ability to distribute combinations of tricks and magic across all four gamepad face keys, and all this can be done right during the fight. Along the way, the game will give you so many skills and abilities that you simply won’t have time to get bored at the next farm. The combat system of Tales of Berseria provides a lot of fun without turning the game into a thoughtless second-tier slasher. We still have a jRPG in front of us, which means that for an effective game we have to study the weaknesses of enemies, customize heroes and in every possible way be sophisticated with loot. But for the target audience, this is a plus, not a minus.
In addition to the above, Tales of Berseria has several interesting and relatively interesting features. Scattered across open locations are spheres that are actually the souls of cute cat-like creatures, which our valiant localizers dubbed “koteg”. The required number of souls will rescue such a cat from a kawaii pink chest, and here it all depends on whether the creature has lost its conscience during the time of imprisonment. If not, it will gift you with some wardrobe item, be it an eye patch, glasses, or a top hat. The joke is that the characters will flaunt them during the story cutscenes, and I don’t think it’s necessary to say exactly how the cowboy hat on Velvet’s head will affect the drama of the story.
Otherwise, it all comes down to exploring locations and finding gear. Partially, these functions are taken over by our pirate team. By sending her to sail, you can not only discover new territories, but also get a lot of additional ingredients that will be useful to you in cooking. If in some Final Fantasy 15 only one member of the squad had culinary talents, and he cooked exclusively during the next halt, then Berseria does not force the player to do anything. You can assign the status of a cook to any of the characters without being distracted from the hunt, and the effect that the hero who has tasted the food will receive will depend on this. Besides all this business can be generated automatically. Just choose a chef and dish, stock up on ingredients – and you will always have a fresh piece of food in your pocket … It does not sound very appetizing if you read it out loud.
Tales of Berseria is not just one of the best games in the series. This is one of the best jRPGs of the last few years. Of course, if you are scared off by the “brightness” of Tales or its pretentious “animeness”, then you are unlikely to get indescribable delight from this part either. But it’s still worth giving her a chance. The characters, their interaction with each other and the reaction to the events that take place bring Tales of Berseria to life and give the player the very emotions that you expect from games of the jRPG genre. In addition, the game is loyal to both beginners, who will surely love the fast-paced combat system (and probably kotegs), and orthodox JRPG fans, who will get a decent challenge, a fairly convenient customization system, and a brave new world to explore.
Bandai Namco has proven once again that their series is not to be taken lightly. You can’t just crush with a dump truck what has been built over the years and functions well to this day. You can’t stuff a project with a ton of useless garbage, just to stretch its duration, somehow justifying more than ten years of development. It is enough just to look at your offspring from a slightly different angle. Refresh, sharpen and, most importantly, write a story that even a twenty-five-year-old uncle will have tears rolling down his cheeks. What is so difficult about this? It’s enough to get your priorities right.