The Tales series is one that I’ve been familiar with ever since I had played Tales of Destiny on the PlayStation One. Most of the role-playing games that I played as a kid were turn-based, but the Tales games were different. These were the games that introduced me to the action RPG genre in the first place. There was always something more intuitive about their battle systems. Now, there wasn’t anything wrong with turn-based battle systems, but games like Tales of Destiny or even something like Star Ocean provided something different from the norm. In those days, action RPGs weren’t as common as they are now. Looking back on it, most of the role-playing games that I remember even playing were either tactical or turn-based. Role-playing games like Final Fantasy were such a high standard back then that you would see a lot of companies try to replicate Square’s success by creating something similar (looking at you Shadow Madness). But as for Namco, they didn’t bother following that trend. They instead offered something different with the Tales games. And even though I don’t feel that the Tales series is as recognizable as something like Final Fantasy, I still believe that it has been influential nonetheless.
Moving on to the Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, this was a game that I vaguely remembered. Originally released exclusively for the Xbox 360 back in 2008, I was surprised of how much I had forgotten of the game. That isn’t to say that it was bad or anything, it’s just that it didn’t feel like it had left much of an impact on me. I can still remember other Tales games, like Symphonia or even Destiny. But when it came to Vesperia, I had nothing. I had played the game when it first came out, but I remembered so little about it that I found myself genuinely surprised when anything significant would happen in the story. That being said, Vesperia has felt like an entirely new game for me. And for the most part, I’d say that has been a positive.
Trying my best to avoid spoilers, in Tales of Vesperia you play as the protagonist Yuri Lowell. The beginning of the game has Yuri searching for a mage that stole an aque blastia from the lower quarter of the imperial capital. While searching for this mage, Yuri is then arrested and thrown into a dungeon. Yuri eventually escapes, after which he then comes across a princess named Estelle, who is looking for a knight named Flynn. After events that transpire in the game, Yuri eventually helps found a guild with his companions. The guild’s first task finds them helping Estelle in her journey to search for a talking monster named Phaeroh. This eventually leads the Brave Vesperia into a quest to save the world.
While I feel that the story is intriguing, I found that the interactions between characters was the real highlight of Vesperia. Most of the dialogue exchanges in the game are done through skits. These will pop up as you progress through the game. Some may happen after events that transpire in the story, while others may pop up through other means. For example: Not cooking meals will eventually pop up a skit where your group will talk about how they haven’t eaten for a long time. I found a lot of these to be charming and entertaining. And I feel that they helped lighten the overall tone of the game up.
Moving on to the actual world of Vesperia, the areas of the game are located on a vast overworld. While the overworld is essentially an open world, the locations in the game are mostly linear paths. The locations consist of either towns or dungeons. Every dungeon has its own unique monsters to fight, along with various items that can be found with a little extra exploration. The monsters themselves can be fought by running into them. This will bring up a battlefield where you can then combat the enemies.
As for the towns, they all consist of different NPCs and shops. As you progress through the game, shops will offer various types of items. Outside of anything purchasable, there is also synthesis. This is basically like a crafting system. You can obtain materials for synthesis by defeating enemies, or finding the items across the world. In some cases, you can also further upgrade certain equipment to provide a stronger variant. In some cases, equipment may have multiple variant upgrades as well. This all brings me to the skill system in Vesperia.
So getting a little into the skills, these can be unlocked by using certain weapons in battle. After unlocking these skills, you can then equip them in the Skills menu. It’s worth noting that the number of skills that you can equip is limited by the character’s SP. The higher level the character, the more SP they will have for use. As for the skills themselves, they are split between multiple categories. Each different category has its unique buffs that can be used. A small example would be something like: Equipping an Attack based skill will increase your damage. This is just a small variant, there are loads of different skills that can be obtained in the game. But overall, it seems like the best skills to use may vary depending on the character.
Moving on to the combat, much like the other Tales games, Vesperia is an action oriented battle system. You are able to freely move around a battlefield and attack enemies at your leisure. Attacking an enemy repeatedly will chain into a combo. There are also special attacks that can be used called Artes. There are two different kinds of Artes, one is Base Artes and the other is Arcane Artes. There are various ways that you can learn different kinds of Artes, but the most common way to obtain them is through leveling and then repeatedly attacking either through the use of either normal attacks or Artes. There is also another special Arte in Vesperia called Altered Artes. These can be used when repeatedly using specific Artes while having certain Skills equipped. They can also be permanently learned after using them a set number of times. It’s also worth mentioning that there is another component to the combos called Fatal Strikes. Fatal Strike rings will randomly appear when attacking enemies with combos, if done correctly these attacks can deal massive damage to an enemy. Finishing off an enemy with a Fatal Strike will also provide various bonuses, with the bonus depending on what color the Fatal Strike color was. Another component to the battle system is the Over Limit. When this is activated it allows you endlessly attack an enemy. Not being done just yet, there is also the Burst Artes that can be used during the Over Limit. Burst Artes can be performed after using certain Artes. These special attacks that can only be used during the Over Limit are exceptionally powerful and are most certainly worth getting used to, especially for the more difficult fights in the game.
With all of that out of the way, I now bring myself to talk about the Vesperia’s graphics and sounds. For a game that was released a decade ago, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition looks fantastic. Everything in the game is bright and colorful. All of the environments all have a nice look to them. And even the designs of the characters and enemies are quite well done. Everything on this front is wonderful, the art style of the game is flawless. It’s hard to even tell that this game was originally from 2008.
As for the sounds, it’s all fine here. The voice acting is exceptionally solid. I’ve been playing using the English dialogue and I have found myself quite pleased on this front. I’ve enjoyed the performances of the voice actors; they’ve been a treat. I found Troy Baker to be quite good in here as well. I honestly forgot that he even voiced this game, it’s been so long. Other than that, the entire cast was pretty great. It’s that I find Troy Baker to be someone who always stands out when giving a voice acting performance.
In terms of any issues that I had with the game, there wasn’t really too many problems. Playing on the Nintendo Switch, I noticed there would be some minor FPS drops in certain areas. The game ran pretty fluidly for the most part. I did have the game crash on me once, so I would recommend some caution. There are no auto-saves in Vesperia, so I would highly suggest taking advantage of any save points. Just to be on the safe side.
So coming to a close with Tales of Vesperia, I would say that my time with the game has been entertaining. I had forgotten so much of the game since I last played it back in 2008 that it was like an entirely new experience for me. Towards the end of the game, the pacing does feel like it slows down but there was never a point where I wanted to stop playing. I had found a lot of enjoyment out of the story, and found the characters in the game to be likable. The voice acting seemed to also help this, as I felt that the English voiceovers were quite good. The combat in Tales of Vesperia was also a highlight for me. There was something satisfying whenever you would defeat enemies in the game. And being able to further build up your characters by learning skills was also something that I had found to be engaging. It was an extra little touch of character customization that I had appreciated, though it did feel like a lot of skills were pointless. I also found much appreciation in the games art style. As I said, everything in the game looks nice and colorful. It’s definitely something pleasant. So, with that, I definitely enjoyed Tales of Vesperia. I feel that I can recommend it to anyone looking for a solid role-playing game. I think that some people may be turned off by some aspects of the game. There isn’t really any hand holding in the game, so you may find yourself getting lost if you don’t pay attention to the dialogue. Fortunately, there is a synopsis that can sort of guide you to the places that you should be going to. It’s just a matter of finding them. I personally got lost a couple of times, but it wasn’t anything too severe in terms of finding out where I should be going next. But that’s really it. Tales of Vesperia is a good fun game. And it’s definitely one that I would say is worth checking out.