Adventure into the journey to become a Shepard and restore peace in the land while fighting the vicious Hellion and defeating their leader. You play as Sorey, a human raised amongst the Seraphim, a race of human-like supernatural beings who are unseen and unheard by most humans. Sorey is a happy go-lucky boy who quests with his childhood friend Mikleo, a slightly more serious Seraph. On their latest adventure into ruins, they find a girl who sets Sorey on his quest to become a Shepard (a hero/saviour.)
Zestiria is the first Tales game I’ve played and I was going in pretty much blind but I immediately found it fun. While the plot was pretty simplistic and predictable, it was entertaining and I feel that Bandai Namco Studios did well to create a game that will get you hooked almost immediately. There’s a fun introduction to brief you on the story then you get thrown into some action and drama pretty quickly after that. They’ve created a loveable main character and the game as a whole is stereotypical yet faithful to the Japanese role-playing game genre.
The plot is simplistic, traditional and it could even be seen as predictable. A young man grows up as an outcast, being the human amongst the Seraphim but turns out to be the bridge to peace and the saviour of the world, pretty standard for such a game but the backstory and characters make it less of a predictable bore and more of a fun adventure. It seems that the only thing that wasn’t expected was that one of Sorey’s teammates ends up disappearing and actually not returning by the end of the game.
The graphics were great, the game ran very smoothly and everything about it screamed JRPG. There’s nothing I love more than a game with scenes and backdrops that look like they were worked on with just as much passion as the plot and the characters and the vibrancy of the game as a whole made it aesthetically pleasing to play through. The audio fitted perfectly with every scene you were in. When you’re playing in Sorey’s village it’s peaceful and soothing, matching the scene incredibly and when you’re in a dungeon the soundtrack is intense and dramatic, kicking you into high gear when you’re playing.
Combat is pretty straight-forward, which I like in a game like this. Some JRPG’s combat systems are just a little too complicated for my taste, but for me this was just right. There was also more than just the main quest to keep you occupied when you were playing so overall the plot and the general gameplay was decent.
Another thing I particularly liked was how characters on Sorey’s team were linked with different elements (fire, water, earth and wind). It made them all so different from each other and you definitely ended up having a favourite or even relating to one or more of them. I had a personal love for Mikleo. His reserved and worried demeanour reminded me of myself but what I loved is that he wasn’t a miserable character. To me he acted like the rational side of Sorey. He was hesitant and made a point to question things, like with the mystery girl at the beginning of the game I mentioned previously, while Sorey jumped into things, he didn’t think before he acted and he was as carefree as they come. To create multiple loveable characters in one game is difficult to do but the developers of Tales of Zestiria have done this incredibly and I fell in love with pretty much all of them.
Unfortunately, while the game was fun and entertaining, the dungeons lacked what other JRPG’s don’t. There just wasn’t as much going on as you’d hope for and I feel like I spent a little too much of the game just walking around, but I won’t despair as overall I found that the game was worth playing. It’s also a little upsetting to see characters such as Alisha shown so prominently on the promotional artwork for the game when she’s actually a very temporary character. It’s clear that this was done purely for promotional purposes to try and hook buyers because she is a very attractive character that to have her on the artwork makes sense from a selling standpoint, but I was upset as I expected her to be a much bigger part of the game than she actually was.
While the game isn’t perfect and has a few issues here and there, overall I’ve definitely enjoyed my experience with Tales of Zestiria, Sorey, Mikleo and all of the other characters. It may be the first Tales game I’ve played but it certainly won’t be the last and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get started with JRPG games.
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