Tales Of Zestiria is the 15th game in the long running Tales series of games from Bandai Namco 2012 – present, Namco Tales Studio (formally Wolf Team) 1995 – 2011. Alongside the 15 main titles there have been numerous small sequels and spin-offs and there was even a MMORPG which ran for 1 year but closed due to dwindling subscribers/players.
With the spanning history of this series hitting every generation of Playstation including handheld, numerous Nintendo consoles and handhelds over the years after starting out on the Super Nintendo in 1995 the series has certainly stood the test of time!
Tales of Zestiria itself was originally released on the PS3 in Japan in January 2015 (no English localisation of subtitles on it) but you could import if you so wished. Shortly after the PS3 release it did get announced that it was heading to the rest of the world October 16th 2015 on PS4 and PC through Steam.
Either way, I haven’t actually played a Tales of game in I don’t know how many years now, I normally just go for stuff like Final Fantasy buying them from PSN so it was a joy receiving a disc dropping onto my doormat around a week ago!!
The story sees a young human named Sorey living his life after being brought up by a group of divine beings (for the want of better words) named Seraphim. Normally humans cannot see the Seraphim (Sorey is in tune with them and can) so when Sorey comes into contact with other people it looks like he is just talking to himself! After the opening section of the game you find and end up taking a young woman back to the Seraphim sanctuary. Of course this opens up the story with your grandpa and the other Seraphim saying that she needs to be leaving, of course you are going to follow her back to the human city of Lakeside with your best friend Mikleo who just happens to be a water Seraphim.
The world itself is in chaos and needs a Shepard, malevolence is taking over and you are getting Seraphim becoming strong Helions (named Dragons even if they are a sea serpent or something else, there are also proper dragons – confusing…yes but it does start to sink in!) and local wildlife that has been tainted is also out to get you (the same as most RPG’s!!). You being the Shepard it is up to you to travel the world cleansing the cities and surrounding areas lowering the influence of the Lord of Calamity. This usually involves cleansing an area boss and then making the cleansed Seraphim the lord who you then can make stronger by giving gifts (random items that you don’t need from your inventory) to gain boons and fast travel between save points etc.
Tales of Zestiria – PC/PS4/PS3 – Livestream premiere & Symphonia HD sneak peek
– BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe
As with most RPGs you meet a huge cast of characters and many can be added to your party, party size is 4 maximum which is 2 human and 2 Seraphim as the Seraphim need to be tied to a human character.
The combat system in Tales of Zestiria is completely different to say Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire, it is known as the Linear Motion Battle System. The Final Fantasy series you will get random battles throughout the world, when you do you will get a pattern of some sort clear the screen and the you essentially end up standing there either side view on like FFVII or behind the characters like on FFXIII. You then take turns hitting each other till you or the enemy fall (in it’s most basic form as you do have extra attacks and Materia to use).
The battle system used on Tales of Zestiria is absolutely fantastic.
The biggest difference is that instead of using a turn based system everything is live, the transitions themselves are almost non existent and the battles are done in the exact area of the world where it started. You start a battle beside a river you can’t cross, it is there and you still can’t get across which may put you at a disadvantage and so on. Like I previously mentioned you have a party of 4, 2 human & 2 Seraphim, the Seraphim all have their own element, Mikleo being water so his attacks are water based, Lailah is fire so her attacks are fire based and so on.
Now during the fight you can Armatize with the Seraphim you are paired with, this combines Sorey with the Seraphim changing the way Sorey looks and you get really strong elemental attacks, this can be used as much as you want (provided battle gauge has hit at least 1) so you can join together. Using the Armatize really helps out in battles and if you have multiple harder enemies you can change between elements depending on enemy weaknesses to get through a tough situation. You can manually set out and change what the 3 other characters can do via the options, I usually just have them set to do their own thing in battle and then jumping in healing, reviving KO’d characters or issuing a basic commands like attack, defend and so on. My only real gripe with this is at times the camera can be a bit iffy, as with quite a few 3D action games if you are against a solid object trying to move the camera to a better angle can sometimes be a battle of wills!
There is even more depth to the battle system but there is way to much to actually go into!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.
Tales of Zestiria – PS4/PS3/Steam – Change the world (English Trailer)
– BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe
Visually the game can be a bit hit and miss and certain things I have felt can break the immersion occasionally. To start off the texture work on the ground and surrounding hills are a bit last-gen low resolution, same can be said to a lesser degree in towns (mind you engines like Unreal Engine 3 which is very popular is the same when looking at the ground etc up close). I am not saying they are just plain awful but it feels like little work has been done to bring up up to next gen PS4 and PC standards. Things like flags hanging in the Sanctuary at Ladylake as an example, they drape from ceiling to floor, they look nice enough but are completely solid static objects that you have to go around. There is also a similar thing with bushes dotted around towns and in the outer areas, imagine a + symbol textured up to look like said bush and again they are solid, finally there are a few invisible barriers which stop you just going off exploring until it is time!
On the flip side though the work on the characters is really nice, albeit there are no shaders/shadows really used on the characters which seems to be a standard for JRPG’s. The main character and NPCs (non-player characters) he is involved with all have nice sharp crisp visuals, townsfolk and town guards are better than the scenery detail but not quite as sharp as the main cast of characters. A final little gripe is whilst in towns you can only go in the Sanctuary or Inn and maybe another building like the Museum if it is quest dependant, there will be no sneaky stealing like in the Elder Scrolls games!!
Overall though the medieval setting is nice, there are nice long view distances and the slightly lacking visuals don’t detract from the overall experience. To top things off nicely though is some of the cutscenes are Anime (Japanese cartoon style), these are nicely done and quite fitting to complement what is going on and are fully voice acted.
The sound on Tales of Zestiria is absolutely astounding. When you first load the game you can either go for English or original Japanese audio (this option is presented every time you start). There are also English subtitles available which can be enabled from the options screen. Like I mentioned above all the cutscenes are voiced as are the skits between characters on certain things that happen within the world. The writing at times is hilarious with the crazy and fun Japanese humour injected into the dialogue, at times it is even goofy, as an example when you find the Folquen Squirrels there is a skit and one of the characters is told to be quiet or they won’t be taught the fluffy version of the squirrel dance! Looking around the net I can’t really find who has done the English voice acting, I did find a site but it was not an official announcement. Combat sounds are what you would expect with shouting commands and various clangs from hits and whooshing elemental effects.
What really stands out is the music, at times it is very stirring and almost dreamlike, during battles or doing something important the pace quickens and is very fitting. You also do get the heavy guitar Japanese rock on the opening Anime cutscene which sounds excellent (not to over bearing like say Dragons Dogma title music from Capcom).
Tales of Zestiria – The Shepherd’s Burden (English Trailer) – BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe
In conclusion, Tales of Zestiria is one of those games that draws you in with its charm and then doesn’t let go. Whether you like adventure games – or specifically JRPGs – there is something for everyone. The story is very well written, the characters are fun and there is so much to discover.
This is backed by stunning music and great voice acting.
Visually the game looks like it was initially developed with the PS3 in mind with the graphics (especially world textures and design) looking pretty dated. However it doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
If you are looking round the net you will see mention of a key character being used to advertise the game and then halfway through she leaves the party never to come back. She is part of the main story up until around the halfway point and quite literally just forgotten by your group once gone. Ignore stuff like this and just buy the game and enjoy what it has to offer, like I said at the start of this review, this is the first Tales of game I have played in many years, I am taking it for what it is as a standalone from the rest of the games and have thoroughly enjoyed playing this.
After 30+ hours over the past week I am still yet to finish this game, in all honesty even though the review is now done I will keep playing until I get through it.
What more is there to say, it’s a great game, fun to play so go buy it!!
All gaming footage featured is from the BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe Youtube channel.
Tales of Zestiria – PS4/PS3/PC Digital – UNITE. TRANSFORM. TRANSCEND. (English TGS Trailer)
– BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Players: single player; 4-player local multi-player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!
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