Within the RPG genre, few series have stood the test of time to remain popular, a few of which being: The Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy and the Tales series. The Tales series can trace its lineage all the way back to Tales of Phantasia on the SNES back in 1995. The newest game in the series Tales of Berseria developed and published by Bandai Namco just released on PC.
Tales of Berseria has the player following Velvet Crowe and her party on her quest for revenge. Billed as a tale of emotion vs reason, eventually being portrayed as a tale of freedom vs order. The game picks up three years after an event called the Advent, during the Advent humanity became more spiritually aware, able to see daemons and spiritual beings known as Malakhim or Malaks. During the advent, the main antagonist of the game Artorius Collbrande sacrificed Laphicet the brother of Velvet to awaken the fifth Emperyon and bring order to the Midgand kingdom.
Revenge plots are often simple though this isn’t necessarily bad, here Violet is so blinded by her hatred of Artorius that she is willing to use any means to get her revenge even if other people get hurt in the process. Artorius conversely is willing to sacrifice anything he deems necessary for the goal of reason, an orderly world free of daemons. From here it is really hard to call Velvet the hero and Artorius the villain, they take on more of anti-hero and anti-villain qualities respectively. Though this is common in the Tales series, plot twists keep things from ever being straightforward.
The other theme that emerges is freedom vs order, Eizen hates the way the Abbey are able to control the Malak. Exorcists are humans that have high spiritual resonance, they were able to see daemons and Malakhim before the Advent. Exorcists are capable of binding Malak to use their power, this also strips the Malak of their free will.
Other characters that fight alongside Velvet are Rokurou the daemon, Magilou the witch, Eizen the Malak, Laphicet the Malak and Eleanor the exorcist. Most characters have a reason for joining Velvet, Eizen is a pirate looking for Aifread his missing captain, who was taken by the Abbey. Rokurou is seeking strength in order to kill his brother. Laphicet felt a strong connection to Velvet and even looked similar in appearance to her brother. Eleanor started out undercover working for Artorius, soon seeking instead to see the world for what it is with her own eyes and not blindly following the Abbey.
The world consists mostly of islands with Midgand having the largest continent in the world. In a departure from more recent entries in the series, there is no overworld map, players travel from place to place via ship. Traveling breaks down to selecting destinations by talking to an NPC and then watching the ship travel from destination to destination. There are no combat encounters while traveling though there are the occasional cutscene or exposition sequence for the story. Once at your destination the party travels between interconnected maps to reach the various destinations.
While there are many commonalities and a few easter eggs between Tales games such as Kharlan, Aifread or the concept of a doomed world stuck in a cycle of creation and destruction. It is rare for a Tales game to be a direct sequel or prequel, choosing a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest approach instead. In this case Tales of Berseria is set roughly one thousand years before Tales of Zestiria. Luckily this game requires no prior knowledge of the past games in order to be enjoyable.
This game has many tropes seen among modern media from Japan which could be a turn-off for a lot of players, the voice acting for the characters is fairly hit or miss with one character the malak Bienfu having a particularly grating voice.