We took a close look at the Japanese demo of Tales of Berseria last year, but now we’ve managed to get hands on with the first few hours of the English build. We’re pleased to report that the combat holds up in longer form, and that the story is off to a great start.
I’ll try to keep this spoiler free past the prologue, but the set-up for the game is essentially that of a revenge story. It begins with Velvet living in a small village along with her younger brother, Laphicet, and her older brother-in-law and exorcist, Artorious. The secluded village lives under the fear of Daemonblight, a curse ravaging the entire world after an event called the Scarlet Night some time ago.
It’s kind of like the Kill Bill of the Tales Of series.
Naturally things don’t go too well for Velvet. They don’t go well for her at all. Velvet eventually ends up setting off on a quest for revenge that will require her to cross vast distances and take on many strong foes, from human to daemon alike. It’s kind of like the Kill Bill of the Tales Of series. It might be one of the darkest stories and settings of the series yet, and pleasingly isn’t eye-rollingly so. Velvet is a character whose motivations and journey are very easy to get behind, and you’ll want to find out how things play out for her.
The pursuit of vengeance, as you might expect from this type of game, end up taking you through a bunch of “dungeons”, accessed from open fields. Naturally, there are also towns to explore. All of these types of areas are littered with collectable items, collectable orbs, chests, herbs, and lots of hidden nooks and crannies offering both. Berseria has some marginally more dynamic interaction than previous titles, climbing up vines, sliding down slopes, hopping between ledges — though they’re quite stiff and restricted, they do serve to break up some of the exploration.
Load times are basically non-existent.
Dungeon design does seem to be quite basic early on in the game. Early on there are a few quite by the numbers caves, which mainly consists of corridors and then slightly larger rooms. It seems that some later dungeons are a bit more exciting, though. One saw the team assaulting a naval base, fighting through barracks and balconies. Objectives in the base were more varied, tasking you with having to find keys, cause a distraction, and more as you try to accomplish your task of making it through the base’s blockade.
Even in the more interesting environments enemies are mostly just splurged onto the map. Running into them very quickly transports you into a battle zone. Load times are basically non-existent, and making good use of the battle system can see the flow of normal battles take a handful of seconds to finish off. It’s a pretty fast paced experience that doesn’t waste your time. As usual with a Tales Of game how much you get on with it is going to come down to whether you like the fighting system.
Tearing apart enemies as you push on is pretty consistently satisfying.
As we wrote about before the Linear Motion Battle System makes encounters a lot of fun, which is great as that’s the main thing you’ll be doing in Tales of Berseria. Stamina in the LMBS is governed by “souls”, and dictates the length of the combos you can pull off, as well as other actions like dodging. You start off with 3 at the beginning of a battle, and can steal them from enemies as the fight rages on. With 3 or more you can activate Velvet’s “Beast Mode”, spending one soul and giving it to an enemy. This causes her health to rapidly deplete, but powers up her moves and allows her to absorb health back. Finishing off a complete combo will activate a special arte skill, and end Beast Mode. Most battles will see you strategically dipping in and out of Beast Mode. Tearing apart enemies as you push on is pretty consistently satisfying.
With a compelling start to the story, and a battle system that is a lot of fun, it’s hard to ask more of Tales of Berseria at this point. With the game coming out later this month over here, and already released a while back in Japan, this is pretty much the way the finished game will be. We played the Steam version of the game, and didn’t encounter any issues. The game also released on PlayStation 3 (in Japan only) as well as PlayStation 4 (with PC coming this month worldwide), so with the former in mind it’s not exactly pushing any technical boundaries, though the visual design is a treat as always. We’ll give you the full verdict when the game is out!
Tales of Berseria launches 24th January in North America and 27th January in Europe on PlayStation 4. The PC release on Steam will arrive worldwide also on 26th January.