Upon starting up Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition I was immediately greeted by a beautiful animated montage of the characters. Like something straight out of an anime; its contents just enough to peak my curiosity without giving anything away. It’s something I know I’ll want to watch again at the end once I have context for the scenes.
The game then starts with another animated sequence that establishes the world and sets the scene for the story. We’re introduced to the main character, Yuri Lowell, as the game gets in to full swing.
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This is a JRPG though so expect a lot of that swing to be dialogue. Most of the dialogue you see in the game will be with dialogue bubbles popping up as you see below. Although different to the 2D style of the opening scenes they’re not overshadowed by them and are beautiful in their own right. The game takes full advantage of an anime type cel shaded style and the world around you is just as breathtaking as the characters themselves.
What also stands out to me about all the cutscenes when compared to other games is the dedication to the voice acting. Not only are these cutscenes fully voiced, but the quality of the voice acting itself is great in both English and Japanese. It’s a preference of mine to play JRPG’s with Japanese audio where possible, but this is one of only a handful of games where I like both versions equally. You’re also free to switch between these languages, but the game requires a reboot in order to do so.
After the story is established it’s not long before you’re introduced to combat, which becomes fairly frequent thereafter. The battle system is similar to fighting games, in which you fight in real time in a closed environment, performing moves and combos for higher damage. Unlike a lot of similar battle systems though I found you could block indefinitely without penalty, which made fights much easier.
I chose to play the game on the standard difficulty setting and did not find any of these fights to be much of a challenge, up until the first boss fight of the game, which had a significant difficultly spike. The fights themselves are fun to take part in – each character has their own set of moves, or “artes” which do different things.
They also allow you to attack from both close and long range, which helps to mix things up. Characters in your party attack alongside you to back you up. At one point though I went into a battle only to have my character be completely AI controlled and had to look up why – it turned out that I’d switched it to auto when adding a new arte I had learned, which wasn’t something that had been explained at any point. A small issue and one that was easy to fix but an issue none the less.
As you progress through the story, you get nice, optional dialogue from time to time called skits. When you choose to view them you’re greeted with character portraits and you can watch the characters have conversations with each other about things that have just happened. They’re wonderful for adding that little bit extra to the storytelling if that’s your jam, but skippable if you’d rather speed through the action.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is a great game, even for someone without the nostalgia of playing it when it first came out. It’s a perfect example of the rich storytelling that’s come to be experienced in JRPG’s and it’s backed up fantastically by an interesting cast. The fact that this cast is voiced with high quality voice acting definitely helps. If you’re a fan of JRPG’s then it’s hard not to recommend Tales of Vesperia. You’ll feel right at home from the start.
Image Credits: Bandai Namco