On top of this you have the Blast Gauge - one point allows you to switch in another character from the sub-party. If you have three points you can unleash a special attack that, if the conditions are right, can be utterly devastating to the enemy... However the boss characters you'll be fighting can also perform these special attacks.
Levelling up and attaining new passive skills and enhancements has changed up a bit as well. Artes are learned in a linear fashion from straightforward levelling up and are not tied to titles. This time around titles provide their own set of passive buffs. Grade, that ever-mysterious thing you earn in battle in Tales
games, has a more obvious use in Berseria
- it fills a stat attached to every piece of gear to unlock a Mastered skill, which is added permanently to a character.
Equipment can also be enhanced to unlock further abilities, but these are strictly for that bit of gear. There is also a chance to have a number of random skills assigned to gear bought and found. From each major enemy in the game (and a few other places) you earn Glacites. These add further nuance to the workings in the background from unlocking harder difficulties to added extra souls to characters using enhanced equipment.
Finally, you have the effects of food which can be cooked by any of the characters (there are individual cooking levels that effect stat bonuses). All of this adds up to make the finest version of the Linear Motion Battle System to date; it feels fresh but instantly comfortable and is a step in the right direction for the franchise.
What isn't a step in the right direction is in the in-game visuals, whilst it is the best-looking game so far in the franchise it is still plagued by textures that are blurry when the camera is up close, stiff character animations in cutscenes and archaic facial animations that run the risk of derailing some of the more emotional scenes. Hopefully this is something that can be improved for the next game now that PS3 support has been dropped.
What I really want is for the team to try and renew the art style within a new engine - keep the anime style but go beyond the bland facial animations because there is so much potential to further bring future characters to life. Ufotable, the studio behind the anime cutscenes have done a fantastic job as usual and it makes me wish the game and the anime could start to bleed in to one unified art style. It would be difficult but with modern hardware not impossible.
The music in Berseria
is... okay. The main theme is really nice, but like the rest of the soundtrack is ultimately forgettable. Some of the tracks are series mainstays and feel pleasingly familiar to anyone who has played a few of the older games. Both Japanese and English dubs are present and everyone will have their preferred option. Personally I prefer the English voices and only switched to Japanese to make sure they weren't abysmal - they aren't, they are solid and well chosen for the characters.
Time to wrap this up - Tales of Berseria
is possibly the best Tales
game in years. In deviating from the usual cast of tooth achingly sweet characters they found a better balance that led to a brilliant tale of revenge and logic versus emotion. The combat is fun, fast and has a tactical undertone that series fans should love. The ties to Zestiria
do much to elevate that game above what I initially thought of it.
Finally, Tales of Berseria
has saved this franchise as far as I'm concerned - before I played it I was ready to give upon this series, now I am eagerly awaiting news of what is coming next.
+ Wonderfully wicked cast of characters
+ Emotionally impactful story with great world building
+ Vastly improved combat system
+ Skits return and they are brilliant
- Environments are improved, but are still lacking
- Bland facial animations threaten to derail the impact of some of the story points
SPOnG Score 9/10