Archives by Day

May 2019

Tales of Vesperia

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Jan. 11, 2019


Switch Review - 'Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 26, 2019 @ 2:30 a.m. PST

Tales of Vesperia combines real-time combat, captivating storylines and remarkable graphics while introducing original elements that set a new standard for role-playing gameplay and interactive storytelling.

Buy Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Tales of Vesperia was arguably the Xbox's first big JRPG exclusive. Released during a time when Microsoft was heavily courting Japanese developers, it was the first time the franchise had been exclusive to a "Western" system. However, this also meant that after Japan got a PS3 edition with new content, Vesperia remained exclusive to the Xbox for a decade. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition finally gives all consoles a chance to try one of the biggest fan favorite Tales titles for the first time, complete with the new content from the PS3 version.

Tales of Vesperia follows the story of Yuri Lowell, a former trainee knight who is frustrated with the world and forges his own path. Yuri is a rough but good-natured individual who wants to improve the world. His best friend, Flynn, thinks that this can only be done by working within the system. Their story grows more complex when Yuri rescues the princess Estelle from danger. Yuri must figure out how he can improve the world and rescue Estelle; this puts him in conflict with the worst of the world has to offer as well as an energy resource problem that threatens all life.

As a story, Tales of Vesperia never decides what it wants to be. It sets up several really interesting plot threads and then drops them in favor of generic JRPG-ness. Yuri is hurt worst of all by this. His outsider view of the world and willingness to do things sort of falls by the wayside when a genuine roadblock comes into play. He's also less revolutionary when compared to recent protagonists, like Velvet, who does a better job with many of his plot beats.

Tales of Vesperia is carried by its likeable cast, which is one of the stronger ones in the Tales franchise. They bounce off each other well and have fun interactions and even the normally tedious child character Karol is a fun addition. The one sour point for me is actually newcomer Patty who just doesn't fit very well. She was added in during the game's port to PS3 and so she feels a bit extraneous. She can be an enjoyable character but does stick out like a sore thumb more often than not, at least to someone who played the X-Box original.

In many ways, Tales of Vesperia is a generic Tales game. It isn't bad or poorly designed, but instead of focusing on new ideas, it took what existed in the previous Tales games and polished it significantly. You go through dungeons and fight bosses, so it's accessible, comfortable and fun, makes this a solid entry point to the franchise.

Combat retains the fighting game/RPG mix for which the franchise is known. Combat takes place in wide-open areas but usually on a 2D plane unless you're holding a certain button to move around freely. Attacks are done in the older Tales style, with one dedicated attack button and one Artes button that allows you to perform specialized custom moves that drain TP, the franchise's version of MP. Each character has his or her own distinct play style, with Yuri being the most straightforward.

There are a lot of complex mechanics in the game, but most of them aren't strictly necessary to win. Combat starts off simply, but as the game progresses, you'll unlock special movement options, powerful Fatal Strikes, and perhaps most critically, the Overlimit option, which lets you temporarily supercharge a character. The last in particular is absurdly powerful, and party mage Rita can practically solo the entire game once you learn how to abuse her power in Overlimit.

The combat in Vesperia is fun, but it feels a bit simplistic when compared to recent games in the series. It's still getting its feet wet in terms of 3D combat, and it lacks the smoothness and accessibility of Berseria. With that said, if you're fine with it feeling a bit dated, it's still plenty of fun. The wide variety of characters (including Patty and Flynn) ensures that every player will find at least one character they enjoy. I enjoyed playing as Rita and drowning the enemy in elemental magic.

While the combat system is fun, it suffers from some massively uneven difficulty spikes. You can be happily winning each fight with little trouble and then get randomly stomped by a boss or a random encounter, which feels well out of line with the rest of the game's curve. The sudden starts and stops don't have anything to do with the difficulty level so much as some bad encounter design. They're not enough to be true roadblocks, but it can be frustrating when you're thrown out of your groove by something that feels out of your control.

Tales of Vesperia is a fully featured JRPG with a bucketload of content and 50+ hours of gameplay. The story feels too spread out in the end. Compared to the Xbox 360 version, the Definitive Edition contains a lot of new content. One new playable character (Patty) and one guest character-turned-full-time character (Flynn) are the most significant additions. There are also new artes, bosses, costumes, plots and plenty more. Vesperia lives up to the Definitive Edition title and is by far the best available version of the game.

Of course, the biggest change to the Definitive Edition is the upgraded visuals. Even with its remastered graphics, Vesperia looks aged. The character models are fairly simple, and attack animations look stiff when compared to the later games. It's still a good-looking remaster, and the cel-shaded graphics help it age a lot better than many other early Xbox 360 games. The soundtrack is excellent as always and contains some of Tales' best songs. My one big complaint is the voice acting. The remastered content is noticeably differently voiced from the original content, and it's jarring enough that I'd recommend playing in Japanese if only to avoid hearing characters suddenly shift voices (or voice actors!) from scene to scene.

All in all, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is a solid remaster of a fun and enjoyable JRPG. It has its flaws and foibles, including a relative weak final story arc and a somewhat inconsistent battle system, but it's one of the most popular Tales titles for a reason. It's plenty of fun to play, and fans of JRPGs will easily overlook the flaws for what is a genuinely enjoyable romp through an old game style.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about Tales of Vesperia
blog comments powered by Disqus