Games

Feature Play: Tales of Berseria (Demo)

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This year Bandai Namco’s JRPG series the Tales of series released its 16th game in Japan and for its sweet sixteen, we see the series taking some small leaps forward but really trying to stick with its core elements. Tales of Berseria is a prequel to the previous game Tales of Zestiria.

It was a bit of surprise that we got a demo for the game here in west, so that’s another notch in Bandai Namco’s belt. It’s a nice way to give curious players a feel for the game without having to fully commit to it. But even if it will grab the curiosity of new players, the word “new” wouldn’t necessarily be the best way to talk about your experience with Tales of Berseria’s demo. More like traditional, as far as the Tales of series goes.

Right off the bat, you have two options at the menu screen – Japanese or English. Yes sub fans rejoice because the purity of your Japanese language only preference is retained. You’re then given two modes to try out: scenario mode and battle mode. Each of these are well into the story so you get to know what combat, gameplay, and story feel like once you have your motley crew assembled.

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Speaking of the crew, you get a familiar feel from all of the characters in the game, as if you’ve seen them before. And if you have played other Tales of games (or watched enough anime), then you’ll probably get that same feeling. But part of the Tales of’s charm is taking these tropes and subverting them at one point or another. Not all Tales of games did this successfully though, so here’s hoping that it did happen this time around.

The personality types are shown in the skits that you’ll be able to see in the scenario mode. The taste you are given of their collective personalities is enough to let you know who they are…well at least on the surface.

You’ll know immediately who you’ll like/dislike from the get go. In the tradition of the past games, you also get a little bit of explanation about the gameworld’s lore from the skits as well. One of the charms we saw in the characters was their personalities combing and clashing with one another.

This was especially noticeable in a skit about the “truth about women.” (Mind you this comes from the guys in the group, which goes just as “great” as you’d assume. Such dynamics will undoubtedly add to the group’s collective development.)

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The changes are a little slim in comparison to Zestiria as far as exploration goes. Zestiria was the series’ first foray into a bigger “open world” style. Berseria has the “open world” style but does it in a different way. Chests are scattered throughout the fields, but you need to pick up orbs in order to open them. While innately this sounds interesting to push the idea of exploration, it quickly becomes annoying. It makes you long for the time when exploring was rewarding by opening found treasures immediately.

Combat is a little different too but for those who didn’t like Zestiria’s changes, be happy to know that you don’t have to worry about those anymore. In Tales of Berseria, you’re not limited to TP. It combines standard attacks with artes. Your controlled character is still stuck with assigned artes and your allies get free range. This is pretty standard for Tales of games.

But the tweaks they’ve made definitely feel fresh in that combat feels even faster than before because TP doesn’t hinder you. This may feel a little jarring for older fans of the series as it feels like someone turned on the easy mode.

There is a small catch, and it’ll keep you from spamming your attacks. It’s called the “soul system” which essentially makes it so that you can attack an enemy or not. You start with three souls, or four if you surprise your enemy. Once you expend them, you’ll have to wait a second while they refill. It doesn’t take long for them to refill, but it’s obviously meant to be a halt on your asskicking-fest. You can also get into a game of cat and mouse as you steal enemy souls or they can steal yours. It adds a tactical mode to the combat.

Tales of Berseria, as far as the demo shows, will be a 16th entry in the flagship series that’s steeped in tradition with a few crisper graphics and combat tweaks but it’s mostly the same experience. And no that’s not a bad thing.