50 Best Games of 2017: #16 – Tales of Berseria
A return to form for the long running JRPG series.
Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform(s): PS3, PS4, PC
Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.
It’s fair to say the past few years have not been kind to the Tales series. Since its (arguable) peak in 2008 with the superb Tales of Vesperia, the franchise has struggled to distinguish its vast smattering of titles. Whether it’s Xillia, Graces or Zestiria, the majority of Namco Bandai’s recent output in the series has left a lot to be desired. Unlikeable casts, repetitive game design and graphical stagnation all left the series in a bit of a rut. Thankfully, Tales of Berseria acknowledges these weaknesses and emphatically goes out of its way to put them to bed for good.
Following the lovable but fearsome Velvet Crowe, the game weaves a thrilling tale of betrayal, destruction and revenge which blows the franchise’s repetitive blueprint to pieces. Telling a relatable story of a good girl gone bad (for good reason!) with genuine heart, the game is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. It really does flip the typical JRPG experience on its head. In fact, Berseria plays with the dynamics of being the ‘bad guy’ superbly and often flirts with the role of devil’s advocate, leaving neither side of the emotional conflict unscathed.
While the gameplay isn’t revolutionary, it certainly feels like a step forward from its predecessors. The battle system is slicker and faster than ever, making the game feel much more enjoyable and a true evolution of the series. Now if we could just get a graphical upgrade, Berseria would feel like a true next-gen title. Right now, it’s still lacking a bit on the aesthetics, but all things considered, this is only a minor critique.
Tales of Berseria is living breathing proof that JRPGs can still break new ground within the familiar cliches and traditional tropes that often make the genre’s games so recognisable. As a breakaway from the franchise’s rapidly degrading blueprint, Berseria kickstarts the ‘Tales Of’ franchise once again, bringing colourful characters, a dark story and genuine heart to the table in a game I won’t be forgetting for many years to come.
– The 50 Best Games of 2017