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Favourite Tales of Game??

GrizzlyB

Confused and Dazed
So, I finished my Zestiria playthrough, mostly on chaos difficulty -- though I cheated a bit and turned it down for the cameo bosses in the EX dungeon (and I had 2x EXP for NG+ anyway). But I was able to beat all of the bonus bosses and do all the content, and did get the platinum trophy, after probably close to 200 hours of playtime all told. And you guys know what that means? It means I can finally make good equipment on my next playthrough. Whoopie!

Honestly, it really reinforced my initial impression of Zestiria. It feels like there were the makings of a good game in there somewhere, but it just didn't come together. I feel like the story starts off well, but after the first act it gets very haphazard, and the party just goes around dipping their toes in random events until they decide it's time to go confront the villain. The sidequests are artlessly implemented, because they're usually initiated by talking to your helper character, who says, "Hey, what if we went to that one place?" And the environments? It's a combination of huge, wide-open areas that don't contain anything, and ruins/caves/forest-that-for-some-reason-has-a-path-gouged-into-the-ground consisting of nothing but a series of small rooms linked by hallways with nothing in them. Legendia caught some flak for having uninspired dungeon design, but it's got nothing on this, imo. They look procedurally generated -- I assume that there's some truth to the rumors about the production shifting gears way too late in the process, and rushing the game out the door.

Then, in terms of gameplay, it's got a lot of kind of fake difficulty, where the enemies have massive HP pools, and the key to doing damage is hitting weaknesses, but by the late game they have one type weakness and resist a bunch of elements (this is really bad with the EX enemies, which also populate the awful DLC dungeon). There's also a bunch of BS with iron stances or super armor or whatever it is, which enemies get when your combos get too high, meaning it's actually BAD to rack up big combos. Speaking of which, your ally AI is an active nuisance, pissing away blast gauge by armatizing and de-armatizing at random, which there isn't even a strategy setting for. It's like they barely playtested it at all, and just assumed the system would work the way they envisioned (using normal form to build combos and then armatizing to deal big damage). And speaking of fake difficulty -- this is mostly in chaos mode -- but enemies cast spells in like 1.5 seconds, so you're really ****ed if you're up against a group of spellcasters and start getting juggled. That caused me no small amount of grief. Oh, and the battle camera is awful -- you'd think a game where the bulk of play is in narrow corridors of ruins would realize that you should have control of it, but no dice.

And the equipment system is really the entire Zestiria experience in a nutshell. Like, you can see what they were going for, and it's got some good ideas in theory, but man is it a clusterfuck in application. The sheer amount of items and money you need to make noticeably good gear is mind-boggling, and drop rates aren't even that high, even when you put everything you can into getting one specific piece (like, it took me an hour to be able to put together a pair of earrings to get the Stack 16 skill/trophy, even using the proper normin, luring, dark bottles, three drop rate boosts from the LotL, and another boost from NG+. And it wasn't like the gear was good outside of that specific use). Ultimately, you can just ignore the system and slap on whatever gear gives you the best stats, but it's, like, man... what a waste. Not least of all because most of the best abilities are stacks, and to use more than, like, one, you need an absurdly expensive grade shop option in NG+ and THEN you need to be playing on hard/intense (or better yet, chaos) to get 2x or 3x copies of skills and THEN you need to farm a bunch of equipment to actually fuse good stuff (and also, you needed to farm and then exchange a shitload of items to even have enough grade to unlock that skill in NG+ in the first place).

And another thing I can't figure out where to fit in above -- I hate the soundtrack. I know it's "BGM", but most games still seem to want to make music you'll listen to, while I found myself trying to tune out some really banal tracks that don't even loop properly. (Though I have to acknowledge that the elemental shrine tracks are all very dope, and might be worth looking up even if you haven't played the game. They're very much exceptions, though.)

I realize these are all complaints, but I do like the general setting of the game, the theme the story was going for, a lot of the combat options, the field talents (snack making, etc.), most of the cast, and I feel like the cast actually comes together as a unit a lot better than many other Tales games. Still... having played through it to this point -- and like I said, STILL not at the point where I can actually have cool abilities in combat -- I feel I have to reiterate that the hate for this game is well founded. I read up on a lot of the rumors swirling about how the production went down, and if even some of them are true, Hideo Baba's sacking was richly deserved. Berseria being such an improvement after a bunch of lacking games certainly points that way as well. I'll be looking forward to Arise when it arrives.



Ah, but until then, I think I'll move on to Vesperia next (for the first time in... 10 years, maybe?), and see if its combat is really as bad as you guys make it sound. And since I went through all the effort to get the platinum on Zestiria, I'm kind of ruing my decision to buy Vesperia on Switch. Nintendo needs a system to give empty accomplishments for playing too much!
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."
Zestiria is incredibly depressing for a Tales game. Not a single party member should be walking without consulting a therapist first.

Also, Vesperia is amazing in its combat system. Fatal Strikes are literally OHKOs.
 

bobjr

You ask too many questions
Staff member
Moderator
On the other hand Lailah is one of the greatest Tales villains out there.
 

GrizzlyB

Confused and Dazed
Zestiria is incredibly depressing for a Tales game. Not a single party member should be walking without consulting a therapist first.

Also, Vesperia is amazing in its combat system. Fatal Strikes are literally OHKOs.
Yeah, I agree. It's funny, because Berseria seems to be much darker in comparison, having you play as (ostensibly) the villains on a revenge quest, while Zestiria has the standard, "beat the bad guy, save the world" plot with a very straightforward hero. But in Zestiria, most of the party are immortal spirits who have pretty much all lost everyone they ever cared about, or do so over the course of the game (...and also Rose). But that's one of the things I like, because that kind of binds them to each other, whereas in a lot of RPGs, a lot of party members just kind of tag along and when you look at them individually, it's like, "Why?" And then one of the central themes is accepting that there are some people so far gone that the best option is to mercy kill them.
On the other hand Lailah is one of the greatest Tales villains out there.
Is this like the "Marche is the villain of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance" meme? I admit I don't get it.
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."
Is this like the "Marche is the villain of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance" meme? I admit I don't get it.
I think it's because she hides a lot of dark secrets that could have helped Sorey early.
 

bobjr

You ask too many questions
Staff member
Moderator
It's mostly a joke because Zesteria's story is bad, but a big chunk of the journey is Lailah unpersoning Sorey (first physically, and then emotionally by parts). It could work if it were coherent, there's a great tragedy in there somewhere. Lailah kind of sells the pathos in some of her quiet scenes, but the game tone shifts so abruptly and seemingly without cause that it's really hard to get a read on it at all.

The main thing that gets me about Lailah is that she talks about how she served the previous Shepherd so, so long ago. You talk to towns folk, they are also talking about the Shepherd like he came around in the last century or something.

And then you find out that the last Shepherd was doing stuff only twenty goddamn years ago?!
 

GrizzlyB

Confused and Dazed
Ah, I can see that. It kind of goes with what I was thinking, that there was a good idea somewhere in the game's concept, but they messed up getting it out. There are some small hints like that here and there, mostly in how average people are terrified of Sorey's powers, but Sorey pretty much takes it all in equal stride and never questions or reacts to anything unfair for him, and just acts the hero 100% even though he's something of a human sacrifice.

Another thing that bothers me about the timeline is that the Celestial Record is treated as this old, timeless book, that Sorey and Alisha (and many before them, it's implied) have been reading and fantasizing about since they were children, but then one of the orbs shows the last shepherd writing it after he parted with Lailah... so it's barely older than they are. It really feels like they changed the story partway through, and forgot to bring the old parts up to speed (and/or didn't have time and/or didn't care).
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."
Oooh, right. Zestiria is also not a really good written game.

The lengths it goes to paint Rose as this incorruptible person who can keep up with Sorey is so stupid.
 

Hydrohs

安らかに眠ります、岩田さん。
Staff member
Super Mod
It's mostly a joke because Zesteria's story is bad, but a big chunk of the journey is Lailah unpersoning Sorey (first physically, and then emotionally by parts). It could work if it were coherent, there's a great tragedy in there somewhere. Lailah kind of sells the pathos in some of her quiet scenes, but the game tone shifts so abruptly and seemingly without cause that it's really hard to get a read on it at all.

The main thing that gets me about Lailah is that she talks about how she served the previous Shepherd so, so long ago. You talk to towns folk, they are also talking about the Shepherd like he came around in the last century or something.

And then you find out that the last Shepherd was doing stuff only twenty goddamn years ago?!

Yeah the timeframe always confused me. It's been a while since I played the game, but the way I remember it they talk of the Shepard as if no one had seen one in their lifetime.

Generally I liked Zestiria but the story definitely was not its strong suit.
 

SBaby

Dungeon Master
My favorite Tales of game is Tales of the Abyss. Not only is the story great, but it has what is probably one of the most well developed main characters in the entire series (to the point where I consider him to be a gold standard of how to make a good main character in an RPG).
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."
My favorite Tales of game is Tales of the Abyss. Not only is the story great, but it has what is probably one of the most well developed main characters in the entire series (to the point where I consider him to be a gold standard of how to make a good main character in an RPG).
Part 1 of its story is a disaster, though.
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."

GrizzlyB

Confused and Dazed
Well, I just about wrapped up my Vesperia playthrough. I feel like, overall, it doesn't hold up quite as well as I remembered it, but it's still my favorite in the series. It's a little more aged than I would have thought for a 7th-gen game, both with its chibi cel-shaded graphics and in terms of following a lot of the JRPG tropes from that era. I do like the plot overall, but when you look back on it, it's pretty wishy-washy, with how the group's goal is always changing and not building up to any one thing. Like, I did remember that the final boss was Duke, who'd basically just decided to wipe out humanity, but I forgot all about the Adephagos, which was the real threat, because it barely has any palpable effect on the story. And for such a big world, the worldbuilding is super shallow -- ostensibly, the Empire rules the world with the exception of the guilds, but neither side really does anything, and the situation is pretty much exactly the same everywhere around the world (people don't like the empire/knights, but they never oppress or antagonize anyone (besides a few bad apples in Cumore, etc.)).

I like most of the cast, and they play off each other well, but they very much have that problem I said Zestiria mostly avoids, where everybody joins up and it's like, "Wait, why?" Hell, even Yuri and Estelle have very flimsy motivations for setting out, and then Karol quickly gets stuck to them, Rita kinda just tags along after clearing her name as a thief for... some reason, they openly don't like having Raven along, and Judith is like Rita, where even now I'm wondering why she tags along initially. Interestingly, I feel like Patty has the best reason, since she was wondering around on her own and kept running into them anyway (although it was pretty annoying how many times she came into and left the party). Patty arguably also has the most backstory, with Judith having a little relevant history, and the rest of them are just orphans without any connections to anything in particular. Overall, I feel like the characters and the world are very hollow and exist only as a vehicle for the plot, which is the big thing that holds the game back.

But as for combat, I'm surprised that multiple posters here hated it so much. It was a bit of an adjustment to come from Zestiria and start this one on hard, but overall, I think Vesperia is way better, and probably the best of the series (that I've played). It does have some frustrating factors, like flying enemies that are hard to hit (especially with low characters like Karol, Patty, or Repede) and enemies getting downed easily to break combos, but working around things like that are what keeps it from being a button masher. The one thing I will say I hate was how, as a form of artificial difficulty, they make most enemies immediately track the player. I think the first time I tried to control Rita, she was at the back of the formation against 5 enemies, and 4 of them immediately made a beeline for her. So, you're practically not allowed to use spells, at least not until the late game when you can resist getting staggered or throw out overlimits or levitate or whatever. And that's silly.

But other than that, I enjoyed the combat a lot. I probably put too many hours into the game, but I would say I can play very well with Yuri, Estelle, Repede, Flynn, and Patty. Karol, it's too tempting to just Diablo Hyper Buster everything to death (the one where he baseballs a statue... looks like it was added into the PS3/DE), so that's not skill. Raven has the same issue as Rita does above, where you want him to keep distance, but most enemies will follow you around the field. Judith... I just could not get a grasp on her. I ended up having to turn down the difficulty to finish her 200-man coliseum, even though I was already way overleveled. Rita... well, either you have her set up right and obliterate the field with a barage of spells, or you don't have her set up and she gets pecked to death by small enemies, so that's not skill, either. Also, manual canceling is totally broken, so it's probably a good thing that I only found out about it when I was already in the postgame -- it did come in handy in the EX dungeon, because I figured out how to lock down those annoying "resistant to everything" robots with Yuri (although I'm sure there are tons of other infinite combos he can do... honestly, both Yuri and Rita are super broken, imo).

For miscellanea... I also saw people say that the skill system was simplistic, but I really liked it, and I especially liked the synthesis system. Say what you want about the 20 Bear Asses trope, but I like it when you have a reason to hunt down random little mook enemies, and I especially like fusion/synthesis systems like this one, where good stuff requires effort. Also, I might be becoming more of a weeb, but I found the inconsistent voice acting to be grating, and I ended up turning the language to Japanese full-time. Oh, and also I REALLY hated the number of teensy little events there are. I didn't think I'd need a guide, but I was pretty pissed when I realized I missed a number of events with extremely limited windows. The worst two for me were Yuri's dark enforcer quest, where I didn't sleep at the inn you literally just walked out of anyway, which has to be done before you do the next dungeon which is 1 minute away, and the Magic Lamp, where you have to fall in a hole three times before you finish the dungeon -- it gives you dialogue after the first fall, but nothing after the second fall, so like... why would you do it a third time (except on actual accident)?

So, all in all... I'd say the plot was good, if you step back a bit and blur your eyesight (that's how it was for me, when I hadn't played it in a while, and only remembered the big parts). Strong beats to the story, and a likeable cast overall, but ultimately held back by a bizarrely hollow setting. Really strong gameplay, imo, although apparently YMMV. I was thinking about revisiting Berseria next, or maybe finally getting around to Hearts R, but with Arise releasing in about a month and a half, I'll probably put those off so I don't get burnt out on Tales right when a new one finally comes out. Also, congratulations if you actually read this massive wall of text about a game that's almost 15 years old.
 

AuraChannelerChris

"Tis an honor to be recognized."
I like most of the cast, and they play off each other well, but they very much have that problem I said Zestiria mostly avoids, where everybody joins up and it's like, "Wait, why?" Hell, even Yuri and Estelle have very flimsy motivations for setting out, and then Karol quickly gets stuck to them, Rita kinda just tags along after clearing her name as a thief for... some reason, they openly don't like having Raven along, and Judith is like Rita, where even now I'm wondering why she tags along initially. Interestingly, I feel like Patty has the best reason, since she was wondering around on her own and kept running into them anyway (although it was pretty annoying how many times she came into and left the party). Patty arguably also has the most backstory, with Judith having a little relevant history, and the rest of them are just orphans without any connections to anything in particular. Overall, I feel like the characters and the world are very hollow and exist only as a vehicle for the plot, which is the big thing that holds the game back.

Yuri leaves initially because he was chasing after the aque core blastia thief pretending to be Rita, and this more or less leads him to help Estelle out, whose shelterness left her very desperate for aid and was very lucky that the one man she asked for help was related to Flynn (and her telling this to Yuri adds another reason for Yuri to go out into the world to ensure Flynn is safe, even though he denies it at times). This little wish leads to Yuri's dislike for the empire uncover a much darker plot that he tries to keep Flynn away from and enjoying Estelle's company, and Estelle learning that her shelterness had a very ulterior motive that ended up taking the curious Rita for the ride because Estelle can use artes without needing the bodhi blastia she carries around for show and Rita wished to learn why that was like that.

Karol is pretty much the utility member because of his indirect knowledge he got from all the guilds that threw him out. The whole journey is his personal character growth, though it doesn't do much for the story itself other than one act of badassery.

Judith tags along because of Estelle's secret putting the world in peril and confusing her when Ba'ul was drawn to her instead of the Hermes Blastia that Judith has been destroying around as the Dragon Freak, which makes her wonder if she should continue doing what she's been tasked to do by higher powers and in the way helps her grow in her hasty decisions without telling the group.

Raven has a HELL number of reasons to be with the group that I wouldn't be able to summarize because he happened to have a lot going for that got much more expanded in the Empty Mask manga.

Repede is the team pet but that's it.

Patty is sadly the one without much because she herself recovers from her amnesia halfway through the story but purposely puts her issues for another time because the group is too busy saving the world to mind her issues until she has to confront them near the end and she's mostly there for cutscenes to add a little more of flavor. Despite the fact she has ties with the big bad, Alexei doesn't even acknowledge her presence at all.

Flynn, well, the poor guy suffered oh-so much because Yuri wasn't around to reel him in, just as Yuri suffered from not having Flynn around during his darkest moments.

I wouldn't say the characters are hollow other than Repede and maybe Karol and Patty.

...The real problem is Part 3, though. It basically becomes the Estelle & Rita Show because those two are the ones doing the hard work, with some Yuri, Karol, and Patty bits by the base.
 
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