Review: Tales of Zestiria (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): October 20, 2015
- Release Date (EU): October 16, 2015
- Release Date (JP): January 22, 2015
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
- Genres: JRPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
- Also For: Computer, PlayStation 3
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Sorey’s Story [Say that five times fast]
Tales of Zestiria places you in the role of Sorey, your typical chosen one hero archetype who is tasked with uniting the human race with the spirit world before both of their worlds fall apart at the seams. It’s your average adventure story but hey, it’s all about the execution right?
Along the way you will be met with various allies and adversaries that will help or oppose you in your quest. The characters all have their own quirks and charms about them but nothing that really stands out. The setting and story of Zestiria sets a very lackadaisical precedent from the start, and happens to carry through most of the game. There are no big shocks or truly over the top engaging moments to Zestiria’s story and at times it makes it hard to go on.
Funnily enough, earlier advertisements in Japan focused more on the character Alisha, who is also a rather interesting character, ended up getting way less screen time than I was made to believe. In fact, she ended up being sold as a DLC side story, which quite frankly was a silly decision on the creators’ part. Fortunately you can get this DLC for free on both PC and PS3/PS4 by heading to either Bandai Namco’s website or by downloading it from the PlayStation store. The DLC does end up taking place after the main game, so I would advise holding off on looking up anything about it if you still plan on experiencing the story.
Gameplay and Battle System – A work of Arte
Like many RPG’s, Zestiria has its’ fair share of exploration, but the execution of it is rather hit and miss. There are broad open environments that can be empty and boring and have you stuck roaming them for minutes agonizing to get to your next objective, or you have the overtly linear dungeons that make things a walk in the park as far as finding your objective goes.
To be fair to the game, it does make dungeons much easier to complete and brings down the lost and walking in circles aspect a bit, and there’s plenty of bonus treasures and collectibles to find within the tight spaces. Just be aware that boring layouts set in lackluster themes may be enough to make you lose interest.
As always the highlight of this Tales of game is its battle system. Taking an even bigger action oriented approach to and adding some elemental and spiritual flair to the mix, the possibilities increase dramatically.
You’ll start off the game with a basic 4-hit combo moveset that relies on Spirit Chain Energy to perform attacks. Draining your SC quickly by button mashing however, will leave you vulnerable to attack, and enemies on harder difficulties will punish you for this. You’ll have to monitor your SC gauge and learn when to guard and when to move away from combat, allowing it to recharge faster and letting you get the most out of fighting. The best part is, these limitations can apply to your enemies as well, so paying attention to your enemies’ attack patterns can show you the perfect time to wreak havoc on them.
Utilizing Seraphim, spirits if you will, can either have them fight for you as regular party members that utilize elemental based attacks, or have them combine with other human characters in order to increase HP and utilize new combos.
The new options make the game more interesting and it allows you to play around with a lot of different strategies. Your combos are key to increasing damage output, so finding ways to increase them is always a good thing. The implementations of elemental weaknesses also allow you to strategize the best ways of defeating enemies, and how to defend against them.
And as always for the Tales of franchise, you have the option of setting different strategies for your AI to use including auto-guarding and going berserk with all-out attacks. There are also plenty of meta-abilities such as treasure-finding to help make your search for cool loot even easier with AI notifications. All in all, combat feels great this time around and the multitude of options can be the saving grace for this title.
How does it look and sound?
Zestiria’s art style is certainly charming, but it has its' rough patches as well. The graphics in environmental areas can be a bit jagged and washed out, and it looks somewhat empty with colors thrown in to offset the mid-tier environments. The overall design and aesthetic is a plus, I just wish it looked cleaner and even more vibrant both in and outside of combat.
The sound of the game is very pretty however, and has dual audio included for those of you that tend to prefer Japanese voices with subtitles over English voice acting. The skits, cut scenes, and in-game audio are all voiced, so no awkward mouth movement skits with no physical dialogue.
+ Great Battle System
+ Good sound design
- Lacking story
- Visually washed out
Zestiria's presentation lacked a lot of the things that make Tales of such an interesting franchise. I feel like this entry dropped the ball in regards to its story presentation.
Gameplay was easily the highlight of this title, notably for its battle system. While the open world left more to be desired it was a welcome inclusion and I hope to see it utilized even better in the future.
If you can find the will to keep playing through the rather lackluster story, Zestiria will hold its appeal for you. Otherwise you may find you dragging yourself along to finish the game.
out of 10
(not an average)
Zestiria does some interesting things with its battle systems but really falls short in terms of story telling and artistic presentation. Although I feel this title would make for a better entry point into the Tales of franchise, it hardly feels like one of the more stellar games in the series. Give it a shot if you're a die-hard fan, but take caution if you're new to the Tales of games.