Tales of Berseria is part of the long running Tales series, and was originally released in 2016. It is available on PS3, PS4, and PC currently. It is an action JRPG set in a fantasy medieval world where demons run rampant. Being the 16th entry into the series there’s clearly some pedigree here. It is also the first in the series to feature a sole female lead.
This is my first point of contact with the series though, so I didn’t exactly know what to expect. Find out just what I thought below!
Gameplay? 9/10 – Some unique combat mechanics and interesting extras make this game a delight to play
As I normally do, I will be splitting up the gameplay a little to make it easier to read. This was a little odd, so I just added an “Extra” header to the end. There’s just a couple extra bits that I want to mention that don’t belong anywhere else.
Combat is pretty good in Tales of Berseria. You enter into battles by making contact with an enemy in the overworld, which takes you to a separate rounded arena where you fight a number of enemies. You go into battle with a team of 4, which is actually my perfect number for all JRPGs. I also greatly appreciate when a game gives me the magical 4 party members.
Each character can be controlled and have their combos set up uniquely, splitting into each of the control buttons and getting 4 moves. So you can assign 4 different moves to one button. This is changeable but I used an Xbox controller on my PC, so for example the “X” button would have 4 moves. Then the “B” button had 4 different moves.
Moves are split into many different categories. They can either be physical Martial Artes or magic Hidden Artes. Each move can have a different element like wind or fire. Finally they can be good against a different kind of monster. For example winged monsters, or crustaceans.
You will have to set up your combos to take care of the specific monsters you are fighting. By doing so you can get big damage boosts, making it easier to take down any enemy. I really like this method, it keeps you thinking about your setup and your attacks.
Then there’s the equipment and one of my favourite RPG mechanics. You can equip many different types of gear, each has its own abilities. By using this gear in battle you can permanently learn these abilities, meaning that there’s a reason to keep changing and using different gear. I really do like this method of ability learning in games.
Exploration is pretty typical for this kind of game. If you remember my Xenoblade Chronicles review I took issue with how big each map was. Luckily the maps are smaller in Tales of Berseria but you still move pretty slowly to start with.
You can get abilities that increase your movement speed on the map, as well as a kind of hoverboard later. Both of which do improve the traversal quite a lot. Shortening your time traveling and more enjoyable.
The only other thing worth mentioning are the environmental obstacles that can appear. I actually quite like these. There are places that cannot be reached until you gain an ability or say the hoverboard. It means that if you have to return to an area later in the game you can find new treasure. That’s a big bonus in my book.
I love the little skits that play out pretty frequently. These are optional bits of extra dialogue. There’s a popup with some very nice looking images of the characters, while engaging in fun little conversation. I particularly like how expressive everyone is during these.
You are able to make each team member cook a meal for everyone. These take up food items from your inventory and reward the team with buffs, like recovering health when the whole team drops below a threshold. You can also level up each character’s cooking level to unlock even more buffs.
Along with these you can also send a scout ship on expeditions. These typically take around half an hour real time to complete, and don’t interrupt your play. When the ship returns it will bring with it some rewards. Like rare food times for example.
I think I’ve done a reasonable job discussing the different mechanics on offer and which ones I liked. The truth is that I like most of the mechanics and choices made in Tales of Berseria.
Each mechanic and system is pretty good separately but combining them all together gives a deeply satisfying gameplay experience. More than a lot of similar games, Tales of Berseria seems to make pretty much all of the right choices. I really enjoyed the game and I can see why this series is so beloved and celebrated.
Visuals? 8/10 – Full Anime cut scenes, bright over world areas, and expressive skits help to make a gorgeous and dark world
The visuals and the audio have a similar trend of being weird. A lot of the stuff you find in Tales of Berseria is pretty good, there just seems to be quite a few caveats to this.
The fully animated cutscenes are incredible. I love the animations for these, they are grade A. It’s a shame but the main game doesn’t look anywhere near as good. There are some poor character models and animations. That being said, for the most part the main game still looks pretty good. There are varied enemy types, environments, and the main cast all look amazing.
The little 2D models during the skits I mentioned above are especially fantastic. They look great, they’re bright and colourful, and they’re expressive. One of my favourite parts of the game honestly. A delight to watch.
I’ll speak about this a bit more later on in the review, but the drop in and the behaviour of models at a distance is a bit off. This is mostly a performance thing though so I won’t discuss it much here.
Audio? 8/10 – Some good music choices and well mixed and voiced dialogue is only marred by some odd choices
The audio for Tales of Berseria is a bit of an odd one to talk about. I’m pretty sure that everything is mixed purposefully. I also think that all general sound design choices were deliberate. My issue is that even though it’s all crystal clear, I don’t like it all.
Let’s start with the positives. Firstly the opening track is fantastic, it’s a full Anime OP and I’m here for it.
Next, all of the voice work is perfect, it comes through crisp and clear. Also the rest of the OST is pretty well mixed and there’s a lot of nice tracks.
Now for the counter points.
Whilst the voices are all clear, in combat there is far too much repeating, throw away lines. Also all attack names are called out. It’s just far too much. The footsteps whilst running across a map are a bit too loud and monotonous. Some of the monster cries on the map are unbearable. Most bird type monsters are the worst culprits. They basically full on screech at you everytime.
It’s nothing game breaking, nor did it ruin my enjoyment of the game. I just think that some changes should have been made in these areas.
Story? 8/10 – A great and dark story line, leading with an anti-hero which is unlike a lot of JRPGs make this game unique and enjoyable
I’ve been really trying recently with the story sections. Specifically, I’ve tried to add as few spoilers as possible. As well as trimming the section down. For a few of the most recent games, the story can’t be told without spoilers. Tales of Berseria is no different really. All of the explanations and motivations aren’t actually revealed until later. So I don’t want to get into it too much here. So here’s the very opening and premise.
You play as a young girl named Velvet, she lives in a small village with her sister, brother, and brother-in-law. The village is attacked and your sister is killed, leaving the 3 to continue without her. Fast Forward some time and nothing much has changed in the village, Velvet basically takes care of her little brother and her brother-in-law stays around too to help.
Things go bad again and demons attack the village, looking like werewolves. Which are actually pretty cool, as a side note. Velvet tries to find her little brother and goes to a temple ruin in the forest, finding him but her brother-in-law ends up murdering him.
Velvet is then turned into a demon herself, with a demon arm that can devour other demons. This is quite reminiscent of Nero’s demon arm in Devil May Cry. It’s just bigger, can retract, and is red and black.
The story then follows Velvet as she seeks revenge against her brother-in-law. She meets a lot of people along the way that end up helping her.
So what did I like?
There are some pretty major twists that occur later on. There is also quite a lot of subtle character development, especially with Velvet. It’s a pretty good premise and you find out a lot as you get further into the story. Your understanding of the world of Tales of Berseria changes drastically, which I really like.
I must say the very opening is pretty intense and I really like it. It slows down after the opening scene but I think it captures your attention. That’s the right way to start a game.
I should also mention that the ending to the game is very satisfying. I obviously won’t spoil it here but in my opinion it’s a pretty perfect ending. It surprised me but I don’t think there was really a better way to end it, it went in a way I didn’t expect and I really liked that.
Acting? 9/10 – Other than the *shudder* Katz, top tier voice acting all round
I very much liked all of the performances from the main cast. The main characters are all unique and have real soul. There is also a really good range to the characters which highlights the voice actors’ talent. As always I played in English dub and I was happy with almost everything that I heard.
There is one caveat to this. The Katz. *Shudders in PTSD*. I do not like these little… things.
The Katz are a race of things? Or something. I do not know or care. I am actively choosing not to look them up right now, I disliked them that much. Their voices! My god their voices. I know that was basically the point so I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed. Pretty much all of them have crazy and unbearable voices. I skipped their dialogue as fast as I could read it, so I wouldn’t miss any story.
Writing? 9/10 – Great writing for a great story. Fantastic character developments and interactions.
The writing in Tales of Berseria is overall pretty good. It’s very reminiscent of your average Anime, which is a plus in my book. With the addition of the skits giving a lot of optional and in depth character interactions. There’s plenty to be digested and most of it is really good. As I just mentioned, it’s mostly really well acted too which adds to it.
A particular highlight in the writing is the friendship between Rokuro and Eizen. They become fast friends and bro it up over drinks mostly. The key for these interactions though is how genuine they seem. Even though they’re very different and have different origins they found common ground. Exploring some of their friendship moments is a genuine joy.
My only real gripe with the writing is how Velvet is handled in certain situations. At multiple points in the story Velvet could have just explained herself and the conflict would have been avoided. I’m not a huge fan of these kinds of writing mechanics. It basically makes no sense and can ruin an otherwise interesting encounter.
Performance? 9/10 – Near perfect performance on PC, only minor gripes
I played Tales of Berseria on my PC, it’s a pretty powerful PC so that may affect this. I had basically no real performance issues, the game was buttery smooth and I had no crashes.
To briefly cover some of my PC specs:
Memory: 16GB DDR4
GPU: NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2070 SUPER.
So it’s no slouch, I doubt there’s any surprise a game from 2016 runs so well for me.
The areas that I would say had issues are with some of the NPC models and the drop in. At a medium distance some of the models started behaving strangely and looked much worse. Then there was a very noticeable drop in out in the fields and things. Enemies just teleporting all over the place.
Other than these though, no real issues to speak of. All 45 hours were smooth and constant.
Fun Factor? 9/10 – With a fantastic combat system and story, this game is an absolute blast
Tales of Berseria is a fun JRPG. It has likable characters, with an interesting world, and a deep combat system. There isn’t much to dislike or that gets in the way, so long as you like JRPGs.
Really the overall experience is only marred by a couple of points. Like some of the voice acting as I mentioned. Then there’s the fact that at the start you’ll be doing a lot of slow running on each map.
I played it for around 45 hours and didn’t once get bored. The entire time I was engaged and enjoying my time. As my entry into the series I have zero complaints. It was so enjoyable that it will drive me to playing a lot more of the series.
Value? 7/10 – This game can still be quite expensive. There’s a lot to do thankfully. Get it on PS4 or sale on Steam for the best value
It took me 45 hours to finish Tales of Berseria. The game allows you to continue after the final boss, and there is a New Game +. So all in all there is more than enough to do. I also think the game is fun enough and story good enough to want to play it again.
The issue is with the price mostly. Now to get it on PS4 it can be found for below £20, this is great value. Unfortunately on Steam it is still going for £40 for the game. I was lucky enough to get it on sale so didn’t pay £40.
It’s just worth remembering that the price could be restrictive with regards to which platform you play on.
How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 9/10 – Overall I had such a good time in my first foray into the Tales series. A brilliant game that makes me excited to see what else this series has
I really enjoyed my time with Tales of Berseria, this was my first time with a “Tales of” game. After popping my cherry, I am rather excited to dip my toe in some of the other titles.
Tales of Berseria has, for me, a very unique combat system with the combos and setups you can make. I believe other games in the series have a similar one too but I’ve not played them… yet. It keeps engaged in the combat a lot more when you have to plan your move configuration for each area or boss.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, it was dark and angry but meaningful. Following Velvet’s growth as she seeks her revenge is enthralling. You don’t always root for her, as she is an anti-hero at best, but you’re never disappointed that she won. It’s quite an odd feeling. Maybe it has to do with the cast around her? Not sure. I like it though.
With the character interactions providing a flushed out cast of misfits. I’ve mentioned it above but I really liked Rokuro and Eizen’s friendship. That’s not the only interaction that I really like but it’s my favourite. They become thick as thieves pretty quickly. Being similar enough that they just kind of understand each other.
It’s overall just an enjoyable JRPG, which I am already a fan of. The story is very Anime, the combat is interesting, and the cutscenes look fantastic. There is literally nothing else that I need!
Do you agree with my points? Have you played any of the other Tales of games and have a recommendation? Let us now in the comments section below!