For the past month, most of my gaming time was spent on the Steam version of Tales of Berseria, which I got from a Humble Monthly Bundle back in 2018.
Summary: One of the best entries in the Tales series. Has fun combat, a great cast, a darker story and a really good aesthetic.
- I'm a big fan of the Tales series of games, ever since Phantasia on the SNES and Destiny on the PS1, and I take the opportunity to play them whenever they come out for a console I actually have. I'm especially a fan of how their real-time battle engine has evolved over the years, and version in the Berseria may be one of my favorites.
- The combat balance is slightly tilted in favor of the heroine Velvet, but the rest of the party members are reasonably fun to play as well and each have their roles.
- I played majority of the first run on Hard difficulty, I think I dropped to Moderate a couple of times in the bonus dungeon, just to get things over with. Hard difficulty had a reasonable balance: if I wasn't paying attention to random encounters, there was a nontrivial chance I could just die. (And I did, more than once!). You have to look out for Risky Encounters (back attacks!) or Dangerous Encounters (when you trigger more than one mob groups at the same time), as both those encounters give the mobs serious advantages. And then, there's the Dire Foes, boss-type mobs with invincible minions that show up unannounced at the end of battle if you're doing too well in a certain area. They're great for farming grade later on, but the first few times I encountered one led to a game over due to me being unprepared. As you can tell, I like a bit of challenge in my random encounters, I like that if I'm not focused, I might die. For the second achievement-focused run, I played all of it on the highest difficulty (Chaos), though that was blunted by the XP boosts.
- I'm a big fan of the game's cel-shaded aesthetic as well. I took a whole bunch of screenshots, you can see them later in this post!
- the story is a bit atypical of Tales games where you're usually some chosen hero out to save the world. In this case you start out more as a villain/anti-hero and are out for revenge in a Count of Monte Cristo kind of way. It's definitely darkier/edgier than most Tales games, although there are still light-hearted moments along the way. You spend most of the story as fugitives opposing the dominant authority of the era. The rest of your party members are mostly in the same boat: rogues and escaped criminals and pirates and rebels and whatnot. It's a refreshing change of pace.
- Berseria also acts as long-ago prequel for Tales of Zestiria, though the world map is mostly different (due to certain in-game events vastly changing geography at the end of Berseria), it was fun to revisit that world and remember how everything lines up with what happened in Zestiria.
- I did two runs for the achievement completion. Total playtime came out to 119 hours, which seems like a lot, but for comparison, when I finished Tales of Zestiria back in 2016, my playtime clocked in at a whopping 472 hours (where did I find the time?!?), so Berseria actually took a lot less time. Tales games typically have a lot of super-grindy achievements, Berseria had some, but it wasn't as bad as it usually was, I would guess my overall grinding specifically for achievements took less than ten hours total.
- Happy to see Milla and Jude appear as cameo characters in this one, as Xillia was one of my favorite ones, and Milla may be my favorite character design in the Tales series overall. (They're in a bunch of screenshots below!)
- In the screenshots below, you can see that I had everyone wear Normin suits for the second run lol. I like how the Tales series has introduced cosmetics with the advent of 3d models. It's not unreasonable as DLC, since they're not really essential, but they can also be fun.
I'm not sure what RPG I'm playing next - FF7R is coming out in April, and I already have it preordered; there might not be time to squeeze in another long one in between.
(Click photos to view full-size)