Sponsored By: Myself, by way of September’s Humble Bundle
Time Berseria’d: 2 Hours
Late to the Party Review
I was a little intimidated by this game, because so many people have told me that it was impossible to understand without playing all of the other Tales games.
Then the game opened with a woman and her giant demon arm eating a werewolf.
I’m about as on board as you can get without a train ticket.
Backstory Schmackstory Review
Tales of Berseria is the 16th game in the Tales series, which started with Tales of Phantasia way back in 1995. To get the most out of Tales of Berseria, you have to play at least Tales of Zestiria, because otherwise you won’t understand the significance of …
Oh, who am I kidding? Tales of Berseria is about as Anime as Anime gets. You play as a woman with a giant demon arm who eats other demons and shouts a lot. At some point you meet another demon with a giant sword that he won’t use and a witch who complains about everything.
Anything else you need to know is exposited in the first hour of the game. Your character (Velvet) lost a sister (I think) to some demons in a flashback. At the start of the game, Velvet lives in a peaceful village with her sickly younger brother (Laphi) and an older brother/father-figure-type guy with one arm who is a demon hunter.
Needless to say, the peaceful village doesn’t stay peaceful for long, and soon Velvet finds herself infected with demon-stuff and seeking revenge.
The rest falls neatly into the Anime genre that I like to call “The power of solving problems by shouting at them until they explode.” For those of you keeping score, that puts it into the same category as Dragonball Z, Gurren Lagann, Attack on Titan and Akira. It also happens to be my favorite genre, even though it contains Attack on Titan and Akira.
Tales of Berseria is also an RPG, which may seem counterintuitive. Usually the power of shouting at things is best conveyed in character-action games. Well, Bandai Namco hears you, and they agree. That means when you encounter enemies in the world, instead of an exciting camera cut to an empty arena where you engage in turn-based combat, you get an exciting camera cut to an empty arena where you engage in real-time, character-action-style combat. It’s a nice mechanic that allows you to have a combat system where all of the buttons on the controller are dedicated to attacks, while still allowing you to do things like talk to people without decapitating them when you’re not in combat.
One of the things I like best about the combat is the custom combo system. Those of you who played it might remember that God Hand (another game in the Shouting At Things genre) allowed you to build your own combo attack and map it to the square-button on the PS2 controller, leaving X, O and Triangle open for things like guard breaks and finishers. Tales of Berseria does the same thing, except all four face buttons have their own combos that you can build yourself from a menu. What’s more, you can jump between them mid-combo. In other words, any four buttons you press in a row result in a combo.
And that doesn’t even account for the special attacks, dodging, blocking and countering. The combat in Tales of Berseria is as deep as it is Anime, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t even unlocked all of it yet. There’s some sort of companion system that I’ve barely scratched, for example.
Of course, life can’t all be about the shouting. It can also be about laughing, and Tales of Berseria has a sense of humor about it too. Velvet, of course, has no sense of humor whatsoever, but she’s surrounded by a cast of goofballs that constantly annoy her. It’s like playing a game where you’re Bert from Sesame Street and everyone else is Ernie.
No wonder she shouts so much.
One example of the aforementioned goofballs: The real combat tutorials of the game start when you’re breaking out of a prison for demons. At one point you try to organize a riot to distract the guards, and you’ll encounter a number of zombies, werewolves and nondescript human-looking types who, it turns out, need to be convinced to riot because they are much happier in their cells getting three squares and a roof than constantly worrying about getting killed by demon hunters. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but I got a few chuckles as I explored the prison, looking for side quests.
Will I Keep Shouting?
Tales of Berseria has all the hallmarks of a long game. At two-hours in, I have the impression that I’m not even done with the tutorial yet, and that the game has a lot more to show me.
I’m interested to see it. The world they’ve apparently spent sixteen games building is fun to be in, and so far I like the custom dial-a-combo system enough to forget that [i[God Hand[/i] will probably never get the Bayonetta-on-PC treatment.
Is it the Dark Souls of Anime Revenge Tales?
The game eases you into pretty much everything. You’re not allowed to leave the tutorials until you’ve performed certain actions enough times to assure mastery, and if my instincts are right this game is going to offer me the opportunity to get seriously overpowered.
Bring it on!
But that means it’s likely not the Dark Souls of it’s genre. Three out of sixteen souls.