Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studio Inc.
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Review Context: I’ve been playing the Tales series regularly since Tales of Symphonia (GCN). I’ve played nearly 50 hours of Tales of Zestiria.
Date of Playthrough: Oct. 20, 2015
How do you begin to talk about a game as big and complex as the Tales series? Tales of Zestiria is the newest game in the JRPG series of twenty years. Much like the Final Fantasy games, each Tales game is its own story with a contained story. In Tales of Zestiria we follow the story of the Shepard as he begins his journey to fight the Lord of Calamity. Sounds easy, if the fate of the world weren’t riding on your shoulders with the choices and decisions that have to be made for the greater good of everyone, including those who oppose each other.
In Tales of Zestiria there are many differences in views and beliefs that happen, making the Shepard’s duty difficult to complete. We have the Seraphim, who are guardians of land that humans worship and live along side, well used too. As the game picks up you learn that humans no longer possess the ability to see the Seraphim, and it’s been so long that many have lost the belief that they truly exist. Then there is the Hyland Kingdom, who are in very delicate political unease with the Rolance Empire. But who is the Shepard? This is where the main character comes in. His name is Sorey, a human that is pure of heart and was raised by the Seraphim. He and his Seraphim friend Mikleo, a water Seraph, enjoy spending time exploring ruins and learning about the legend of the Shepard. A legend that is so old most people think it’s nothing more than a fairy tale. When a stranger wanders into the domain for this particular Seraphim village our plot begins. Without giving too much of the story away, Sorey becomes the Shepard and accepts the duties and responsibilities as the Shepard. While the plot revolves around Sorey trying to stop the Lord of Calamity, the journey is about understanding what it means to be the Shepard and the choices he will have to make.
Sorey’s choices won’t be the only easy thing for him to deal with on his journey. Hellions are spawned from Malevolence. Like the Seraphim, humans can’t see Hellions. To them they look like wild animals being aggressive or humans going crazy. Seraph can also become Hellion if the humans in their domain loose faith in them. If a Seraph has too much malevolence then they can become dragons and there is no turning back from that. Luckily the Shepard has the ability to purify Hellions and drive the malevolence away. As you make progress, you can restore Seraph domains by bringing back a “Lord of the Land.” Having a Lord of the Land is a great benefit, as they can give blessings that can boost experience gain in the domain, as well as other blessings that you unlock through battles.
The battle system of the game stays with the normal real time fighting of previous entries. The whole system revolves around artes, a staple of the franchise. Artes are spilt into two groups; the physical artes that humans mainly use, magic aren’t that the Seraphim specialize in, and then there is a unique mystic arte that every character has, which deals heavy damage when available. Like most RPGs, every character has abilities they are better at using than others. One character maybe useful for healing, while another maybe useful for dealing damage. You play as one character in combat, but you are not limited to who you can play as, so you don’t always have to play as Sorey in combat. A new addition to the combat is the ability to “Armatize” with a Seraph during battle. Armatization brings new powers and abilities to battles, making them feel fresh and different. Out of the four Seraph elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Wind) there are four unique Armatization forms that Sorey can transform into.
The music in the game is simply amazing! It’s got all the right music in battling, to exploring, hanging out around town, and going through dungeons. The voicing acting is something that will depend on personal preference. The English voice acting isn’t bad and all the actors play their parts very well. For those who need to have to original Japanese voice actors, the game will ask you what language you want every time you start up the game before getting to the main menu. This makes for good option choices for any type of player who is playing.
There are many things from previous titles that return as well. Another staple, the skits, make their return providing some character development and individual looks into how each character feels about certain situations. They can also be a great deal of comedic relief. They are always fun to watch when the option pops up. Turtlez make their return, though they only provide maps for new areas. As mentioned before, the core fundamentals of the gameplay being the real time combo and artes system is in every Tales game, but overall each game is very different from one another changing just enough to feel the same, but still has a fresh feeling in the game. The world exploration returns, and with the Lord of the Land blessings, the tedious grind of battles become a little less so when you have motivation to fight encounters on the map.
There are issues with the game however: While the story goes at a steady pace and is interesting enough to keep you going, if you find yourself taking a break, the objective reminder can be extremely vague and uninformative as to what you should be doing next. The camera in battles can be a pain, but it’s only noticeable when you are in confined spaces like caves or ruins. There also isn’t a way to stop other characters from ‘Armatizing,’ so the one support character you are expecting to heal you may be occupied for a portion of the battle.
Tales of Zestiria is a great addition to the series and a much needed JRPG addition to the Playstation 4 library. While it has its problems, they don’t take away from the fun of the game. If you are a fan of JRPGs or the Tales series, then you should really pick this up.
Similar Games Liked:
Tales of Graces F (PS3)
Tales of Xillia (PS3)