I Almost Gave Up On Tales Games. Almost.

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[Spoilers for the first hour or two of Tales of Berseria ahead, along with some minor spoilers for the early to middle parts of the story. Minor spoilers for the general story of Tales of Zestiria along with spoilers about Zestiria's backstory, too]

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ve probably gathered that I’m way into the Tales games. If you haven’t read my previous posts, well… now you know. I consider myself a fan of the series, having played most of them, including a few somewhat more obscure titles. Tales of Symphonia is one of my favorite games of all time, and Tales of Vesperia and Tales of the Abyss probably make it somewhere onto that list, too. All that being said, I’ve had some anxiety about the series for a little while.

I don't even want to talk about this one.
I don't even want to talk about this one.

You see, there are almost as many Tales games I don’t like as there are ones I do, maybe more. This on its own is not particularly stressful; there are plenty of franchises that have numerous entries I dislike. It’s just that… most of the Tales games I dislike are the recent ones — I either bounced off of or ignored three major Tales games in a row. For me, Tales of Xillia, Tales of Xillia 2, and Tales of Zestiria were almost completely devoid of anything that made me interested in the series. In the case of Xillia 2, I couldn't bring myself to play it at all.

I bought the first Tales of Xillia at the same time that I bought Tales of Graces F. I figured it would be fine; there was nothing wrong with having more games to play, after all. I played a lot of hours of Xillia, and it never managed to grab me. I found the characters to be some of the least interesting in the series, and aside from that, the writing gave me no reason to believe any of them would even be on this quest in the first place. Put a gun to my head and I still couldn’t tell you why Jude was following Milla on her journey. The same goes for most of the other characters, too. They seemed to only be helping out because that was the way the story was written. Generally speaking, the characters’ wants and needs should be what drive the plot forward, but here, the plot moved the characters along its set path, and they never really pushed back.

Maybe I’m being too critical of Xillia. I know it has its fans, and I’m sure that the ending hours of the game make the cast much more likable. But I never made it to the end, because I had another Tales game that quickly took priority, sating my hunger for Tales content enough to let me put Xillia down. Tales of Graces is a very flawed game, but it’s a flawed game that I like a whole lot. Where Xillia had personalities who were just sedate enough that I could see nothing but what they lacked, the cast of Graces consisted of cookie-cutter characters copied directly off the pages of the Anime Tropes Handbook. Still… that lack of depth made for a fun ride that didn’t ask much of you, and the completely unoriginal character archetypes they used happened to be some of the likable ones. Unlike Xillia, Graces gave me something to hold onto before taking me for a ride; Xillia needed me to find those handholds on my own.

The next big Tales game (that I’m aware of, though my timeline is probably wrong here) was Xillia 2. Tales games usually don’t have direct sequels or prequels; the major releases almost always take place in entirely new worlds, completely unrelated to and disconnected from the other games in the series. My bad experiences with the first Tales of Xillia made the release of Xillia 2 dead on arrival for me, though. I have yet to give it a shot, so it could be fantastic for all I know.

Look how much anime-ass anime I could be missing out on.
Look how much anime-ass anime I could be missing out on.

…I honestly have no interest in ever finding out.

It’s hard to believe that Xillia 2 is a game I want to play — if I look at the direction the series was going with the games that came out right before and right after Xillia 2, and assume it lands somewhere between them on that line… well, that’s not a great place to be in my book. I dislike both games it’s sandwiched between; Tales of Zestiria, the game that followed Xillia 2, never really did it for me, either.

Honestly, though, “dislike” is slightly too strong a word for my feelings about Zestiria. It’s actually totally serviceable. It even goes back to the Tales tradition of obstinately clinging to anime character tropes, which is a tactic that I think works for Tales more often than it doesn’t. But it doesn’t work here, because Zestiria is an incredibly straightforward narrative experience in every single way, not just in character writing. There are a few minor curveballs in the story, but it generally doesn’t do anything to surprise you. The closest thing to an emotional reaction I had while playing the game was seeing main character Sorey and his companion Mikleo be best friends in a very endearing way. Little else about the game really sticks (aside from the opening movie theme song) and it has incredibly poor pacing, with urgent story beats having multiple dungeon crawls take place before they actually get resolved. Even the environments are uninteresting, which is a shame because the vibrant and creative worlds present in Tales games are one of their best features.

I was starting to worry that maybe I wouldn’t like a new Tales game ever again.

I guess this is goodbye, my generic yet overwhelmingly endearing fantasy......... game. Fantasy game.
I guess this is goodbye, my generic yet overwhelmingly endearing fantasy......... game. Fantasy game.
Like a handful of saltines, Tales of Hearts R temporarily held off my hunger. Was that weird? It probably was.
Like a handful of saltines, Tales of Hearts R temporarily held off my hunger. Was that weird? It probably was.

When Tales of Berseria was released over a year ago, I didn’t play it. There were a lot of reasons for that; I mean, my PS3 is no longer functional, and I don’t own a PS4 or a gaming PC either. Not owning the platform a game is released on is a pretty good reason not to play it. Still, had my enthusiasm for the Tales series been what it used to be, I would have bought a PS4 (or 3) to play it. I would’ve read previews for it, and counted down the days to its release; I would have preordered it and driven out to the local Gamestop to pick it up, because I probably would have needed to own a physical copy of the game to fill some deep emotional void inside me. Instead, I let it slip by, and eventually picked up the mediocre but safe Tales of Hearts R on Vita to satisfy my Tales cravings.

And that was fine. I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s not like falling away from a franchise is the end of the world. I was a fan of Tales games, but my affection for the franchise wasn’t a part of my identity, the way my love of a certain courageous green-clad hero was. I enjoy Tales games quite a bit, but they didn’t change my life the way The Legend of Zelda did. So it was fine. It was fine to let go of this thing that I loved. It wasn’t a great situation, but it was one I saw coming and had time to prepare for. I would no longer be a fan of the Tales series, and instead a fan of a few of the Tales games. Not that major of a shift.

I honestly thought I might not ever play Tales of Berseria, but thanks to the Family Sharing feature on Steam, I noticed that my younger brother bought the game and had it available in his Steam library. I have a pretty shitty laptop; it’s terrible for games, and the prospects of Berseria running at anything resembling a playable framerate were pretty hopeless. Still, I booted it up, turned all the settings all the way down, and gave it a shot. And it was almost there. When I lowered the resolution a little, which would probably be considered “unplayable” by a lot of people’s standards, it actually ran totally smoothly. It wouldn’t be the ideal way to play Tales of Berseria, but I wasn’t even sure I wanted to play that much of it anyway. I was half-expecting to drop it six hours in and leave it alone forever. But I didn’t.

"Anime-sick" can also be read as "conveniently bedridden for plot reasons."

Tales of Berseria wound up grabbing me pretty quickly. There are some early scenes of our heroine, named Velvet, that are a little cringe-worthy in their aggressively dark attitude, and those scenes are immediately followed by some equally rough sickly-sweet flashbacks of her happily tending to her anime-sick little brother. Get through that, however, and you are soon shown Velvet’s life ruined in a single moment, and… it’s actually kind of incredible. You see how the world changed for her — how she changed — when her mentor Artorius commits an unforgivable act of betrayal. That jarring tonal shift from the beginning suddenly makes total sense. Her fall from “happy anime teenager” to the uncaring, unapologetically violent and bloodthirsty character she becomes is completely believable, and it happens in an instant.

Fuck this guy. Seriously.
Fuck this guy. Seriously.

Her fall is believable because the game does an excellent job of setting up the villain in that instant. Velvet’s quest in Berseria is one of revenge, at any cost, and you actually want to see her succeed in this. You want her to tear that motherfucker’s throat out of his neck. I am not a violent person, but he is vile. The English voice actor that plays Velvet does an incredible job at instilling empathy during the betrayal scene, too. Her screams of pain and anger sound raw; they are actually emotional, making the player not only understand what she’s feeling, but feel it themselves a little, too. If that wasn’t enough to make you want to see Artorius become a corpse, not only does he go unpunished for his actions, he is regarded by the rest of the world as a hero for them. Velvet seems to be the only person in the world who wants to see him die, and it’s painful to listen to other people speak about their “Shepherd” with reverence in their voices.

The intro was great, but a great intro is not enough to hold my interest for 40-plus hours. Fortunately, Tales of Berseria has a lot more going for it. The game’s playable characters are both fun and likable — Beseria has a memorable cast of anime stock-characters that would be awful if they weren’t done extremely well. This is kind of the case for all of the best characters Tales games have to offer: take an obvious trope, build on it a little, and then let that character develop over the course of the (often crazy) story into something special. These cookie-cutter characters are the number one thing I see that puts people off when it comes to Tales games though, which is completely reasonable; if you’re not a fan, I totally get it. I personally think the Tales games are excellent at using character archetypes as a tool rather than a crutch, and Berseria is a great example of this kind of writing being done well. Also, there’s a little more going on with the characters in Berseria that makes it special, even among Tales games.

While most Tales games have the heroes on the wrong side of the law for some stretch of time, Tales of Berseria’s “heroes” aren’t ever really heroes in the first place. The cast of Tales of Berseria consists mostly of fucking scoundrels. The people who aren’t opposed to Velvet’s goal of killing the so-called savior of the world are people who hate the world he saved. Most of the party you fight with is made up of criminals with selfish motivations, selfish motivations that are far more believable than the selfless desires that drive most JRPG protagonists. Velvet wants revenge on Artorius. Rokurou wants to prove his worth by killing his older brother who thinks he’s worthless. Eizen wants to locate his pirate crew’s captain who he believes is being held captive by one of Artorius’s goons.

Oh, right; I forgot to mention, you roll with a fucking pirate crew in this game. It's awesome.
Oh, right; I forgot to mention, you roll with a fucking pirate crew in this game. It's awesome.

By leaving behind the typical Tales narrative, the one that follows naive heroes trying to save the world, they drop their stock-characters into a completely different kind of group dynamic. They have very little of that starry-eyed naivety that defines a lot of Tales heroes, instead being world-weary and cautious, quick to distrust others and careful not to reveal too much about themselves. The self-interested and occasionally even amoral worldview expressed when they interact with each other and the world around them brings something new to the Tales series. The familiar feels fresh again while still being familiar — the tropes are used as a comfortable introduction to a setting and story that is relatively new to Tales.

I say the setting is “new to Tales”, which is interesting because oddly enough, the world that Berseria is set in isn’t new to Tales at all. Tales of Berseria is actually a prequel to Tales of Zestiria, and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t like that game a whole lot! There were a lot of things about Zestiria that I found completely uninteresting, the world and setting being among them. I might not have even bothered with Berseria had I known it was set in the same place, but I went in blind, only piecing together its relation to the previous game a short ways in. (And yes, as a self-proclaimed Tales fan, it should have been obvious to me because they use a lot of the same terminology, but I had honestly forgotten so much of Zestiria that it took me a while to actually make the connection between the two games.)

One of the biggest problems with Tales of Zestiria is that the story it tells is so incredibly straightforward. It’s good-versus-evil and there’s really not any ambiguity about whether or not the good guys are doing the right thing. They’re the Shepherd’s group, and they’re gonna beat the manifestation of all evil known as the Lord of Calamity. A number of Shepherds have come before you to face off against the repeated rise of the Lord of Calamity a thousand times before you; you’re just doing it again. Zestiria has you seeking a more permanent solution and an end to that cycle, but it my opinion, it makes for one of the more boring versions of the chosen-one-versus-an-ancient-evil story I’ve played through.

The Lord of Calamity. But her friends call her Velvet.
The Lord of Calamity. But her friends call her Velvet.

This doesn’t bode well for Berseria if it takes place in that world, but Tales of Berseria is an excellent prequel. It does everything a good prequel should do: it’s valuable as a standalone experience, it’s made better by having knowledge of the later story, and it even serves to make the other game better after playing through it. See, the boring, black-and-white, good-verses-evil story that Zestiria tells is uninteresting on its own, but Berseria tells the story of the world when the cycle of "Shepherds defeating The Lord of Calamity" began. And you don’t play as the first incarnation of the Shepherd. You play as the first Lord of Calamity.

It’s a good twist on the expectations set by Zesteria, and it adds a bit of moral ambiguity to a world I thought was black-and-white. Velvet, our one-and-only Lord of Calamity, rejects the cold necessity that drives Artorius because she is driven by irrational thoughts and feelings, like most people are. The parts of her that make her selfish, violent, and resentful; the parts of her that are “evil” in the traditional sense; these parts of her are exactly what make her able to confront Artorius’s heartless, utilitarian salvation. Tales of Berseria posits that human beings are selfish, prideful, greedy, and arrogant, often doing or saying awful things when they get emotional… but that’s okay, because those flaws are what make us human. Those flaws are what make us empathetic. Those flaws let us accept the flaws of other people.

I mean, it’s not anything you haven’t heard before, I know. I have heard the message this game preaches a million times before, from media screaming it as loud as it possibly can. And yet, when Tales of Berseria says it, I actually listen. The person saying that flaws are what make us human isn’t some selfless hero acting for the sake of other people. The person saying it is a man who wants to kill his brother for the sake of his wounded pride. It’s a pirate who robs people for the sake of personal gain. It’s a woman who would throw away the entire world if it meant killing the man she despises. The heroes of Tales of Berseria are deeply flawed and selfish, but they don’t need to be anything else.

I absolutely loved Tales of Berseria. The game has some problems, and maybe I’ll address those another time, but overall, I found the game very satisfying on both a narrative and a mechanical level. Playing and enjoying Tales of Berseria was a unique experience because the game being good… it actually meant a lot to me. Almost every Tales game that has been released in the last good number of years has left me disappointed, and I was legitimately losing interest in the series altogether. I was afraid that the apparent shift in direction the series had taken was just not for me, and that each successive entry would appeal to me a little less than the last. Thankfully, Tales of Berseria proved that the series still has a lot to offer me, and that the last few games were just weaker entries in the franchise (as far as my personal tastes are concerned.)

Honestly, I felt kind of… well, kind of relieved when I played this game. It was a relief to know that this franchise that I’ve loved for over ten years wasn’t dead to me. I thought I was losing a bright spot on the horizon. It was nice to look forward to Tales games. When there was school or work or an appointment looming over me, making the future feel like something to dread, I could at least be excited about a new Tales game. Losing that was much more disheartening than any sadness I felt about losing my attachment to these games.

Tales games have the ability to make me happy more than a lot of games do, even though I know they're far from perfect.
Tales games have the ability to make me happy more than a lot of games do, even though I know they're far from perfect.

I found myself wearing a stupid grin when I played Tales of Berseria. It was partially because the game was good, and I was having fun playing a good video game, for sure. That wasn’t the whole reason, though. I was happy to have Tales back. I was happy that I could keep holding on to this series that I thought I needed to let go of. There’s something extremely comforting in waiting for something familiar. Some people have TV shows to look forward to, either waiting for episodes to come out one by one, or waiting for Netflix to drop a new season every now and then. Waiting for game releases fills the same role in my life. I mean, it’s hard to live by a life calendar that only has the important stuff on it. Writing in a few frivolous things to anticipate and prepare for makes it easier to handle the important stuff when it comes.

No Caption Provided

I figure it would be good to end this blog post with a question so… are there any franchises that you used to love that you just don’t enjoy anymore? Are there any that have managed to pull you back in? I’m actually interested to hear if anyone else has had an experience like this, where your feelings for a franchise have faded, but then a new entry managed to win you over. I’m curious if that feeling brought anyone comfort the way it did for me, or if I’m just weird when it comes to this sort of thing.

[Pirate Velvet screenshot pulled from here, all others are either official art or are pulled from Giant Bomb.]

[Quick thing I wanted to clear up: that betrayal I mention when talking about Tales of Berseria, that happens in literally the first hour of the game. It was not the huge spoiler it appears to be, if you were worried.]

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P00zombie

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There's not an opinion in this that I don't agree with. . .or is it there's not an opinion in this that I don't disagree with? Either way, excellent write up and I don't not not disagree with everything you didn't say.

Seriously though, I thought berseria was rad to the max for the very same reasons.

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generic_username

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@p00zombie: Awesome, glad to hear I'm not alone in my feelings about it! I've had unpopular opinions about Tales games before, that's for sure.

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P00zombie

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Well, not unpopular in my book. I thought Hearts R was a nice, serviceable tales game, I just couldn't with Zestiria/Xillia and Berseria turned out to be pretty darn refreshing. Strangely, never played Symphonia though. . .

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imhungry

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Great write up! Pretty much sums up my feelings exactly. I'm not as in love with the series as you seem to be but I've enjoyed a fair amount of them, Phantasia and Symphonia being top among them, and I stopped keeping up with the series after giving up on Xillia after 20+ hours. Your feelings on Xillia are spot on to me, the story and characters just never picked up any momentum.

Totally agree that Berseria was a very fun direction for the series to go. Having the driving plot focus be this completely selfish revenge story was really fun and though I have some problems with some of the hokey attempted character development around the mid-end point I enjoyed the game a lot. I played it earlier this year when it was on sale and it's got me feeling better about the series which, I agree, feels pretty good! Been thinking about going back to playing Symphonia but I'm honestly scared I just have good memories of it and will find out it's not what I want anymore.

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generic_username

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@imhungry: Yeah, I didn't go over the issues I had with Berseria here. In my first draft, I actually did, but it wound up feeling like a weird tangent that only distracted from the point I was trying to make. Had this been a review, I definitely would have covered them. As much as I gush about it, I would probably review it at 4 stars, not 5. The corny parts of it are definitely an unfortunate distraction from the story, I agree. There's also some pacing issues, the dungeons are easy to get lost in, and there are layers upon layers of systems that are a little too hard to wrap your head around, even with the excessive amount of tutorials in the game. But yeah; talking about that stuff didn't really make sense in the piece, and I also had to cut about a thousand words to keep this a manageable length.

I actually have written a few pieces about Symphonia based on my experiences with a more recent playthrough. I think it holds up pretty well, and even appreciated a few things even more viewing it from what I hope was a more critcal perspective. I probably can't see that game objectively anymore, though. Take this with a grain of salt, but I personally think there's still a lot of good stuff in Symphonia.

Sorry if there are a bunch of weird typos in all that, I'm writing this on my phone.

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Jesus_Phish

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I've been thinking about jumping into Tales with Berseria but I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

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ArbitraryWater

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So, funnily enough I'm actually playing through Symphonia right now after saying for years that the Tales games brand of action-RPG combat looked right up my alley. It turns out I was right, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit in spite of a couple of things that remind me that it's a JRPG from 2004 (block pushing puzzles! dubious pacing! needlessly obscure secrets! some of the English voice acting!) I think the Symphonia crew is generally a likeable bunch, even if I'm still inclined to make fun of them whenever they get too trope-y or get way into talking about the power of friendship. Unsurprisingly, I think I like the "adults in the room" like Raine, Kratos, Zelos, and Presea more than I like the hot-headed, entirely earnest doofus that is Lloyd Irving.

In that vein, I'd definitely like to check out Berseria one of these days to see a more modern take on the franchise (once I'm done with the approximately 80 hours of Symphonia that are left and I check out its terrible sequel because I like having "fun".) I'm very much into the idea of flipping the script and making a JRPG that's about a group of morally dubious scoundrels, for all of the angsty, potential edgelord dangers that making your protagonists a bunch of antiheroes can bring.

are there any franchises that you used to love that you just don’t enjoy anymore? Are there any that have managed to pull you back in?

Without dropping a wall of text, the answer to the first is just a blanket declaration of "Bioware." I imagine I can still go back to their older stuff without poking too many holes in my nostalgia, but Andromeda (and to a lesser extent, Dragon Age Inquisition) left a bad enough taste in my mouth that I think I might be done with them for good. I could write an essay about this (and more or less did) but I'll suffice by saying that western RPGs have moved on without them.

To answer the second question, Resident Evil 7 has potentially brought that series back from the brink of eternal mediocrity. They could still cock it up, but I'm actually excited to see what they do next instead of morbidly curious.

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someoneproud

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@jesus_phish: It's a good jumping in point, best one they've made in ages imo. If you like it definitely play Symphonia, pretty old now but it's the best one (Vesperia close) for my money.

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generic_username

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#9  Edited By generic_username

@arbitrarywater: Raine is probably my favorite or second-favorite character of ToS. I wrote an entire blog post specifically about her role in Symphonia a while back, if you're interested in more "I gush about Tales" content. I appreciate her level-headed perspective in a group that generally follows the whims of its more starry-eyed members.

I really dislike Dawn of the New World. I had a whole paragraph about it in the first draft of this piece that I wound up cutting out. That caption about it is all that remains of that mess of text.

I was really worried that Tales of Berseria was going to be terrible grimdark edgelord garbage after the first thirty seconds pointed in that direction. And there totally is some dumb shit in that vein here and there, but aside from Velvet, the cast of Berseria manages to be a bunch of murderous criminals without actually being "dark." Velvet does actually cross that line, and it's hit-or-miss, but the scene that serves as her motivation was well-done enough to make those misses forgivable, at least for me.

Okay, this is going to sound crazy, but the only Bioware game I've ever played was that fucking Sonic RPG and I reeeeally didn't care for it. I realize that is maybe the dumbest, least useful point of context a person can have for Bioware.

On a similar note, due to my strong aversion to the horror genre in general (I get nightmares at the drop of a hat, I just can't go near horror games or movies without being ruined for weeks, if not months) the only Resident Evil game I have ever played is 5. It's probably a better point of context than 6 from what I hear, but I know 5 is an outlier in its own right. Resident Evil 5 is not a horror game in the slightest, which is why I was able to actually play it.

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MindBullet

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Nice write-up. I'm one of fans who liked Xillia (1. Though I finished 2) who seem to be a minority. I also would go so far as to say I disliked Zestiria a whole lot. In fact, Zestiria almost turned me off from even giving Berseria a chance. Thankfully, I gave it a shot and ended up really liking it. I think there is a point midway through the story where I kind of lost interest and ended up drifting away for other games, but I recently started back in on it after my brother mentioned he was playing with his wife. I think the only thing I really could say I don't particularly like about it is some of the equipment management stuff leaking in from Zestiria, and the way skills are handled being a big departure from the series that takes some getting used to. Velvet's real cool though. Maybe just barely behind Yuri when it comes to my favorite Tales protags.

As far as other franchises like that... Assassin's Creed, most definitely. I used to be an AC fanboy to the point it was almost embarrassing. You can imagine I had a bit of a rough time post-Black Flag. Thankfully, Origins has done a lot to bring the series back to where it once was for me. Its a good feeling, for sure. I even put the pirate flag I got from the ACIV collector's edition back up on the wall after years of it sitting in a closet.

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ShadyPingu

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I'm a Tales fan from Symphonia way back on the Gamecube, but I've fallen off the series since Vesperia, which also got a lot of mileage out of a less starry-eyed protagonist. I've heard that Berseria throws off the series standard tropes a bit, which is good to hear.

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pyrodactyl

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Vesperia was really good. I remember enjoying the combat system and characters a whole bunch. I'm kinda bummed every other game in the series just looked less good. Did any stand out ones come out on PS4?

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@pyrodactyl:Tales of Berseria came out on PS4, so that'd be the standout entry you're looking for in my opinion.

@mindbullet: I would agree that the equipment system is a huge hassle. It's overly complicated, and it forces you to wear shitty armor for way longer than you want to. Yuri is probably my favorite Tales protagonist too, for similar reasons. They need to give us a PC port of Vesperia someday. Symphonia got one, so it's not totally out of the question.

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wchigo

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#14  Edited By wchigo

I actually own a whole lot of Tales games: Symphonia (PS3, PC), Abyss (PS2, 3DS), Vesperia (not anymore as I sold my X360 when I moved), Xillia, Xillia 2, Hearts R... I forget if I bought Graces f during a PSN sale. Strangely enough though, I have never once finished a Tales game. I think I got the furthest in Abyss and really liked the story and characters, but I only know the conclusion to that story because I watched the anime.

I've always been interested in Berseria but never got around to checking it out due to my enormous backlog and proportionately little time I have to play games now. But it seemed to review well and have good word of mouth, so I might pick it up eventually from a Steam sale or something.

As to your question, I think my answer would be Legend of Zelda. I never had that chance to play the NES versions much, but I loved A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time. OoT is probably one of, if not the most, replayed game I've ever owned. Going forward I also really liked Minish Cap, but eventually kind of fell off the series. I barely played Wind Waker on GC (re-bought it for Wii U and again barely touched it), didn't finish Twilight Princess (despite owning both the GC and Wii versions), lost interest in Phantom Hourglass, didn't buy Spirit Tracks or Skyward Sword, and though I really loved the time I put into Link Between Worlds, it's yet another game I eventually fell off of for some reason.

It became a sad realization for me that maybe the Zelda games just weren't for me anymore. I couldn't put my finger on the reason why, but somehow they were just no longer holding my attention. It may have been a larger thing of maybe Nintendo games just weren't for me anymore, as I was barely playing any games on my Wii U despite still buying games. I kind of said to myself that the Wii U would be the last Nintendo console I would ever buy, but smash-cut to Breath of the Wild and the reveal of the Nintendo Switch and somehow I was back on-board.

And man, even just thinking back to my experience playing Breath of the Wild fills me with this warm, tingly feeling. It was an amazing experience that went beyond even just gaming for me, and just made me happy whenever I played it. For so much of the game I just had stupid looking grins on my face, whether it was due to discovering some secret or just wandering around and figuring out how to get to a place that seemed unreachable, and reaching it. Seeing your first dragon out of nowhere, or pushing a boulder down a cliff so that it splits two trees and a Korok pops out to reward you with a seed, everything about that game was just magical.

I would say that by far, BotW did for me what Berseria did for you. It was something that I was sad to have potentially leave my life, only for it to come back in force and say no, you're not done with me yet. I saw someone say the Assassin's Creed series and I was considering that as well, since I played and enjoyed everything up to 3 (except Revelations), then never finished Black Flag and never bought another AC game until Origins recently on a sale. However, the jury's still out for me on whether Origins will bring me back to the series, which is why Zelda clinches this category for me.

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@wchigo: I totally get where you're coming from with the Legend of Zelda thing. My period of worry and anxiety about the series was a little less concrete than yours, as I mostly got worried about where the series was headed with Skyward Sword. I tried with that game, I gave it an honest shot, playing it for hours and hours longer than I wanted to in the hopes that it would change my mind, but... it never did. Thankfully I had my faith restored fairly quickly with the release of A Link Between Worlds, which is one of my personal favorite Zelda games.

But Breath of the Wild was a similar sense of relief, anyway. Because for me, BotW was definitive proof that Nintendo was still capable of making "greatest games of all time" contenders. It was proof that they could still make industry-changing games like they used to. And as a lifelong Nintendo fan who has stuck with them even during their dark periods, this was an incredible weight off my back. The first video game I ever played was Link to the Past. Losing faith in Nintendo or even just the Legend of Zelda would have been something incredibly difficult for me to get over. Link Between Worlds and especially Breath of the Wild have given me hope that there's a new generation working at Nintendo, and they're doing amazing things.

If you ever want to chat about Zelda stuff, I have a lot to say. Enough that I really, really need to do an entire blog post (or series of them) about Zelda games.

[On my phone keyboard, by the way, so excuse any bizarre typos or grammar, please]

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Xillia 2 is much closer to Vesperia and Berseria in tone (solid to good use of realistic darkness and messy character motivation), so I'm going to risk advising you to hop in with it.

Plus Tatsuro Udo did the battle planning like with Graces f, so the combat is almost as good as what you remember from Graces f.

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#17  Edited By FacelessVixen  Online

From the perspective of someone who burned out on anime years ago, generally doesn't like JRPGs except for Persona 4 and the better Final Fantasy games, used the Tales and Ys games as examples for not caring about JRPGs for being so numerous and generic looking, and avoids JRPG fans like the plague because of how boring most of them are for only playing games that have the anime aesthetic (though MyAnimeList caters to my immaturity better than this site)... I played a good 35 hours of Berseria and it gets my seal of approval. I'll most likely never go back to any of the previously released games because, much like with anime, I don't like the notion of doing the research on which Tales games are worth the time, and I'm okay with just respecting Symphonia as the one that pretty much everyone holds on a pedestal. But at least I can say that I have the series a chance with Berseria and it seems like a pretty good if not great first Tales game that even a passive/casual anime fan like me can enjoy.

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@genessee: That is a solid endorsement. When I have a functioning Ps3 in my life again, I might give it a shot. Or, you know, they could just do PC ports of the whole Tales catalogue; that'd be cool too.

@facelessvixen: I mean, when you know something's not for you, that's totally fair. It's good to hear that Berseria holds up to someone who isn't a fan, though; I know I have some rose-tinted glasses when it comes to my feelings about the series, so I don't always trust my own opinions of them.

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