I’m a bit of a fan of the Tales of franchise, and therefore I was always going to come into this game with a little bit of bias, especially as I have never played Tales of Vesperia before, making this essentially a new game for me. This is why I saved this game until last when I attended a Bandai Namco press event earlier this week, despite wanting to beeline straight for it.
The story that I managed for gather followed the arguably arrogant Yuri Lowell, as he breaks into a noble’s house and is subsequently is thrown in jail. Whilst in the process of escaping, he saves a young woman called Estellise, who is looking for Yuri’s friend Flynn Scifo. The story is somewhat of a slow burner, as you would expect from a JRPG, but as it is supposed to be one of the good Tales of stories, I was intrigued (and still am) to find out why.
Also like other games in the franchise, and other JRPGs for that matter, the action is divided between combat and exploration. The basic exploration involves running around towns and other settings, engaging in battles and just generally messing about. Occasionally there will be optional dialogue prompts that will appear to give more focus on the characters and their thoughts about events, which are mapped to ‘-’, but otherwise you can do what you want within certain restrictions.
Battles play out in traditional Tales of fashion, with the battlefield confined to a certain arena within the locale you’re exploring. In battle you have several tools at your disposal, but the most important three are attacks, Artes and guard. Attacks and guard are pretty self explanatory, apart from the fact that guard does not negate all damage from an enemy attack, only reduce it. However, the Artes are where the combat really spices up.
The Artes are special attacks that cause larger than average damage and can be used in a variety of ways including extending a combo for greater overall damage. You unlock more are you play and level up, and I only had access to two of Yuri’s in all the time I had to play the game, but I can safely assume that they will get increasingly more ridiculous and flashy as you progress.
Add to this the ability to jump, and free run around the arena, then you have a remarkably diverse combat system for such a simple set of mechanics. Sure, it isn’t on the level of other action RPGs in terms of flexibility and the combat can feel stale on occasion comparatively to these same titles, but there’s something really comforting about the familiarity of the Tales of battle system that I just personally adore.
Visually I would describe Tales of Vesperia as beautiful but dated. The game is still bright and clear, the characters are still unique and emotive, and some of the settings are still covered in little details. But it does definitely show its age, which can be seen in some of the bigger areas, such as the castle where a lot of the rooms are indistinguishable from each other. This doesn’t mean they look bad per se, more that they lack any visual flair, which does impact ease of exploration.
In short, Tales of Vesperia is a Tales of game, which is absolutely not a bad thing. If you’re into the franchise, then everything that you love is here. This could be seen as somewhat of a detriment as the gameplay, set-up and features are all identical to other games in the franchise, but (and I’m aware how biased this is of course) I personally love the franchise and am excited to play what is essentially a new title for me. Also, it has a doggo which is an instant win for me anyway.
Tales of Vesperia – Definitive Edition is due for release on Playstation 4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on January 11th 2019. Do you think you’ll pick up the adventures of Yuri and friends? Are you new to the game like myself, or have you previously played the game? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter, and check back for more coverage of this game and other Japanese titles.
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