In Tales of Berseria, a once kind young woman, Velvet Crowe, gets turned into a Therion demon (a demon who eats other demons). She goes on a quest to avenge the death of her younger brother, Laphicet, who was unwillingly sacrificed for the “greater good” of humanity” by their mutual brother-in-law, the exorcist Artorius. And that’s just in the first 60-minutes of the game. Needless to say, Tales of Berseria is much darker than many of its predecessors and is also the first game in the Tales series to feature a solo female protagonist.
Fast forward three years. Artorius has become the world’s savior for his actions that ended the “Daemon Blight” spreading through the land. Meanwhile, Velvet has been held captive on a prison island and forced to fight and kill demons just to sustain herself. Imprisonment changed her. Bloodthirsty with thoughts of vengeance, she enlists the help of a demon swordsman, a witch and an elemental spirit called a Malak, to escape the island and begin her quest to avenge her little brother by taking down Artorius.
Velvet comes across some very interesting characters throughout her travels. As previously mentioned, one of them is a demon swordsman. The other is a witch. While unique in their own rights, they all have one thing in common, they’re flawed. In this game, there’s no noble or “good” characters like previous Tales series protagonists Yuri, Lloyd or Sorey. The few characters in Berseria that come close to that standard either have ulterior motives or simply want to help Velvet, which in turn makes them just as bad in my opinion.
Velvet is the epitome of an anti-heroine. Really, you could play the game in reverse and have Velvet easily play the villain. She’s cold, powerful and will use any means necessary to achieve her goal of killing Artorius and taking the empire he built for himself down with him. And did I mention she eats demons?
Being the Therion demon that she is, fighting other demons and monsters comes easily to Velvet. Which is great because Tales of Berseria‘s combat system is one of the best elements of the game. The classic linear motion battle system Tales fans have grown to know and love is even better this time around. Players are given more flexibility and control over the Artes and combos they can perform in combat. There is also a few new combat features not seen in previous games. One such feature is a called a “Soul Gauge” or SG for short.
When utilized properly, the SG grants characters the ability to exceed their normal combo limits. This allows players and their party members to deal large amounts of damage in a short amount of time. Velvet specifically is able to steal the soul of an enemy. By doing this, she gains a buff relating to the enemy she’s fighting and initiates a special attack specific to that type of enemy as well.
The final new combat feature has a silly name but is very useful. A “Switch Blast” happens when you swap out a different character in combat for another in reserve. This new character enters the fray with an extra soul and also performs a unique switch blast attack. This really encourages you to keep your back-up characters in mind instead of just using your favorite team comp permanently.
While combat is fluid, fast and fun, it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive without the gorgeous visuals Tales of Berseria offers. While the graphics won’t blow any minds, the in-game environments are vibrantly colored, full of life and a treat to experience. I only wish it was bigger. There are hidden nooks and crannies to discover within the game but for the most part, the maps very linear.
You travel from one instance to the next and each one may only take you a few minutes to fully explore if you don’t count fighting. There is no true “open world” in Tales of Berseria; it’s a real bummer, as the world is comprised of islands and you eventually get a ship to travel place to place. Doesn’t that just shout “EXPLORATION!” and “ADVENTURE!” ? Apparently not.
Whether you’re a fan of terrifying anti-heroines, dark plots of revenge, incredibly diverse teammates such as cursed pirates and holy exorcists, or an advanced combat system, Tales of Berseria has you covered. With over 50+ hours of gameplay, it’s well worth it for any Tales fan or lover of RPGs. There’s fun things to do on the side too, such as cooking, “exploring” the various islands in Midgand, completing demon bounties and more! And while the DLC is (currently) a little light, you can still invest to give yourself an edge in battle, more backstory on various characters and even some outrageous outfits for them to wear.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.