Too Long; Didn't Play: Tales of Berseria

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.

Anime!

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.

Comments

Nice. Loved the review.
Also very interested in the game, so thanks!

The combat in Tales of Berseria is as deep as it is Anime

The world they’ve apparently spent sixteen games building is fun to be in

Not really, the games are generally independent of each other though Berseria is a prequal to Zestiria, which is probably why you were told to play Zestiria first.

Yeah I've heard a lot of people say that Berseria is better, but you "have to" play Zestiria to really get everything out of Berseria. Sounds to me like that might be true, but not necessary for enjoyment.

Have you played Asura's Wrath, Greg?

It's the first thing I thought of when you said shouting at things until they explode. It's been a while, but there's one level of the game that involves shouting at a planet-sized god until it explodes. While punching it with all six of your arms, because anime.

I reckon it'll be up your alley.

I have played Asura’s wrath, but I bounced off of it at the time. Part of that is my fault: I was expecting a character action beat-em-up, and it certainly wasn’t that. Also, it emphasized QuickTime events a bit too much.

If they released it on Steam I’d consider giving it another go. I’d probably like it now.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

I have played Asura’s wrath, but I bounced off of it at the time. Part of that is my fault: I was expecting a character action beat-em-up, and it certainly wasn’t that. Also, it emphasized QuickTime events a bit too much.

If they released it on Steam I’d consider giving it another go. I’d probably like it now.

It's a weird bag of fish, I'll grant you that. Hence why I'm pointing you at it.

There are character action beat'em'up sections in it, but they're book-ended by inscrutable anime cutscenes and liberally scattered between entire levels of bullet-hell rail-shooters and overlong QTE-fests set to the backdrop of an infinite recursion of dials being turned up to 11.

And So. Much. SHOOOUUTTTTIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGGG *literally everything explodes*

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

Tales of Berseria has all the hallmarks of a long game

It took me about 50 hours to finish the main story, so yes, not a short game! I enjoyed it, but I've had a bit of time to kill lately, so could look past the shameless padding that would otherwise turn me off.

Also, I haven't played any other Tales games, and didn't feel like I was missing out on much.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

...our character (Velvet) lost a sister (I think) to some demons in a flashback.

Flashbacks can be so dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

Played Berseria this year. I liked the characters. Haven't played the previous game (nor any other Tales games), looked up the story on youtube after, but it didn't seem that important.
Really didn't like the combat though. The action-y part of it to be specific. On the plus side it had a speed up button and an auto-battle button. Which got me through.

I adored this game, even though I was sorta *meh* on Zestiria and never finished it. Velvet and Magilou have a deliciously antagonistic relationship, and the scene of Velvet, Rokorou and Magilou on the boat after they break out of the prison is just CLASSIC. I wish the back half of the game was as good as the first half, but even still, this was well worth the time I put into it.

Also, it has become common parlance in my household to "Eizen-splain," which is a gender-neutral version of mansplaining.

Ha that's great, Eizen's monologues on history and archaeology were some of my favourite dialogue in the game! Especially the one where Eleanor corrects him - the look on his face :))