I started playing Tales of Vesperia in January, since I had just finished Tales of Symphonia a couple of weeks prior. Vesperia is that rare PS3 era RPG that never got an English-language release on that system, so I've actually been wanting to play this for more than a decade now, though I actually bought the game only during last year's end-of-year Steam sales.
This game is a vast improvement over Symphonia; kind of a surprise considering the original games were released a mere 5 games apart. I'm not sure if it's just the Definitive Edition remaster, but the graphics seem like a big leap, and there are a lot of QoL changes that made playing the game a lot smoother. The battle system is excellent and again much improved over Symphonia. My only complaint is that it often feels like I should be able to score hits with the enemies knocked down.
It's still a Tales game so the plot is still very anime, but it was straightforward and reasonably entertaining and well-presented. I am far more fond of the cast here than Symphonia's. Favorite characters: Estelle and Rita. I'm a big fan of both character designs, and I kept Rita in her original costume the most (partly because many of her other costumes weren't very good!). Also, one of your party members is a dog! I'm also a fan of the general world design and especially how all the NPCs are always wearing a variety of interesting clothes; when I was playing Vesperia all the NPCs always felt so meh. The city areas are deceptively small though; they're always portrayed as being very expansive with many houses/buildings, but pathing only allows you to reach a small part of each city.
Completion: While I enjoyed the main game, completion was a bitch. Which is typical of Tales games really. I finished the first run way back in February and spent the time and only finished completion last week! I did make the mistake of trying to do some of the completion stuff in the first run, when it would have been much easier to do them after I've unlocked grade shop extras in New Game+. Still, there was so much stuff to do; In total it took 3 1/3 runs to finish. I seriously considered just giving up on completion around the second run, but I did find the combat fun and everything seemed attainable so I powered through.
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So far among the Steam-available Tales games, Symphonia is the only one I gave up on completion for. And that was because it had so many annoying minigames I didn't want to bother with. Vesperia had a couple of minigames too, but they were reasonably easier, although I was worried I wouldn't be able to do the snowboarding achievement. (Got it one sitting once I decided to go for it!)
Total playtime: 193.2 hours. How Long To Beat has average completionist runs for this game at around 150-160 hours, so I definitely spent too much time.
What's Next: I had also gotten a copy of Tales of Xillia 2 for PS3 last year and was initially planning to play that after this one, but since I spent so much time with Vesperia, I probably need a palette cleanser first and will instead see if I can check out Xillia 2 later in the year probably. Combined with Symphonia, I've been playing Tales games more or less continuously since November!
I did of course take a lot of screenshots!
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