Tales of Vesperia is a role-playing video game developed by Namco Tales Studio. The tenth mainline entry in the Talesseries, it was released for the Xbox 360 and published in Japan and North America by Namco Bandai Games in 2008, and in European territories by Atari in 2009. An expanded port of the game for the PlayStation 3 was released in 2009 in Japan. An enhanced version, subtitled Definitive Edition, was released for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows in January 2019. The gameplay is similar to previous Tales games, featuring a new version of the series’ trademark action-based “Linear Motion Battle System”, while also introducing new elements such as online leaderboards.
Designed to celebrate the game’s tenth anniversary, Definitive Edition includes upscaled graphics, all content from the Japan-exclusive PS3 version, and English and Japanese voice tracks.
The game places you in the shoes of Sorey, a human boy who must undertake the role of the long-forgotten Shepherd, in a bid to eradicate the ‘Malevolence’ that’s plaguing his homeworld of Glenwood. Standard. The plot is your cut-and-dry reincarnation of a fabled hero, and sadly, doesn’t add anything new or special to the clichéd narrative trope. What Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition does offer however, is a band of characters who all bring their own individual virtues and sense of humour to the party, creating an overall sense of community on your quest against evil. The characters you’ll come across include but aren’t limited to: Mikleo, Sorey’s Seraphim foster-brother, Rose, Sorey’s human friend, and Ailisha, a princess turned knight.
The gameplay is similar to its predecessors, in its utilisation of the Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS), which to the uninformed, is not too dissimilar from the combat style seen in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. A first for the series however, is that the transition between exploration and combat is more fluid in Tales of Zestiria, with the combat actually taking place in the same area as the exploration. As you saunter along your quest, optional dialogue opportunities arise, offering the player an insight into the relationships between the characters, in the form of often humorous or political quips and remarks. Depending on which character you have accompanying Sorey throughout the overworld, certain actions can be performed, such as teleporting across short gaps, or temporarily shielding the party from enemies’ view. Equipment can be assigned special skills, through completing quests for creatures known as Normin, and additional abilities can be unlocked by completing protection missions over certain regions of the map.
What really drags Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition down however, is the incredibly contrast between its vast open world, and the narrow, linear dungeons that you’ll find yourself crawling through. The difference is stark; on one hand, you’re offered this rich and extensive world, reminiscent of the freedom The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time offered, yet on the other hand, you’re swamped with monotonous and repetitive dungeons, which offer often-irritating puzzles, that feel more laborious at times than anything else.
The music in this game is wonderful. It perfectly represents each respective area the player finds themselves traversing, and often mirrors the mood that’s fallen on the characters at any given time. It’s uplifting and rejuvenating when it needs to be, refilling the player with a sense of excitement and adventure that only a good JRPG can.
All in all, I enjoyed what Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition has to offer. It holds the familiarity of the traditional JRPG, yet breaks that mould with its innovative combat. A fully-voiced (and voiced well, at that) cast of eclectic and likeable characters help shape what is truly an enjoyable experience. The ~50 hour plot can get muddy at times, and for the most part, finds itself relying on the characters and gameplay as its saving grace. That’s just the bare minimum however, as the hours that can be spent poring over countless items and equipment, debating which combinations are best, are near limitless, and this is where the game really shines. As I said before, the narrative is a slight deviation on the often-regurgitated ‘reincarnation of a fabled hero who is tasked with ridding the world of evil’. As much as it pains me to say it, the plot drags what could have been a truly wonderful game, down into the upper echelons of mediocrity, as so many games have fallen victim to in the past.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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