Yuri and friends are back to save the world from malfunctioning Blastia that's causing monsters to infiltrate the towns of Terca Lumireis.
Tales of Vesperia released over 10 years ago as an Xbox 360 exclusive with a Japan-only PS3 version making its way into Eastern Tales fans' hands soon after. Although it took them over a decade, Bandai Namco finally came to their senses and released the best version yet on multiple platforms in North America with improved graphics and both English and Japanese voice acting.
Right off the bat, you'll be impressed at the awesome quality of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition's visuals. It's generally a very colourful game and everything from the menus to the character models and the towns to the dungeons all appear very crisp and appealing. Its graphics aren't as good as Tales of Berseria's but they are equally as charming and the more simplistic art style has its own merits.
This Definitive Edition also includes two new playable characters: Flynn Scifo (one of the main non-playable characters from the original release) and Patty Fleur (a character that was in the Japanese PS3 version). Patty is an adorable little pirate girl with blond pigtails who will make you smile with her goofy antics every time she shows up on your travels.
Tales of Vesperia's story revolves around the resourceful Yuri Lowell and the eager healer Estelle on their mission to find out what's been happening to the defensive barriers that used to umbrella all of the towns in the world to protect them from monsters. At the beginning, Yuri stumbles across the noble Estelle and they discover that they have a common friend in Flynn. They then set off in search of Flynn and soon find themselves on a mission that has them saving folks all over the land while teaming up with many new chums such as the hammer-wielding kid Karol, the researcher Rita, and the sneaky troublemaker Raven.
If you played a Tales game before or any JRPG in the 2000s then Vesperia will be very familiar. The overworld is large with hills, valleys, forests, and beaches to visit as well as dozens of towns and dungeons to explore. Most of your fighting occurs in dungeons with some taking place on the world map. Speaking of which, the world map's plain visuals leave a little to be desired but the dungeons and towns more than make up for that. There's also not much to do on the map other than run between points so it would have been nice to have treasure chests or other interesting items to forage like in some of the newer Tales titles.
As usual, fighting monsters in Tales of Vesperia is done via an action-based system where you unleash attacks in different directions and make use of learned Artes to cause extra pain for your enemies while sometimes inflicting elemental damage. Additionally, the Burst Arte system allows you to perform a special move when you're in Over Limit mode to inflict even more damage to your opponent. The typical battle is fairly simple and not tough to beat as long as you maintain your level and don't run past all of the monsters. Some of the bosses took me multiple tries to finish as they required me to employ certain strategies with my Artes and I appreciated the challenge.
On top of acquiring Artes, you also learn skills that are gained from equipment. Once you wear an item in enough battles, you learn the skill for good and it can help you with things like using items, providing a boost in earned EXP or gald, and improving your base stats. I enjoyed buying and synthesising new items that would give me skills then setting up my party so I always had folks learning stuff. Finally, secret missions are achievements earned by accomplishing a specific task when fighting a boss such as hitting their weak spot at the right moment. These do a great job of providing an extra layer of challenge for hardcore Tales fans.
With this being the Definitive Edition of Tales of Vesperia which released over a decade ago, there are some issues that bogged me down and it would have been nice if the developer decided to take a more critical look at how it would hold up against modern JRPGs before releasing it. For example, when you die in battle, there is no option to retry or even start again from a checkpoint. Heck, you can't even start at the beginning of a dungeon so your only choice is to load your save. Therefore, make sure to save every chance you get!
Also, when you finish a dungeon, you have to backtrack out of it to continue the story. Modern JRPGs either automatically exit you out of the dungeon or ask if you want to do that. It definitely creates a feeling of tedium to go through a dungeon that you've already explored again. Lastly, there are no dungeon maps which some may appreciate but when you're in dungeons that seem to have a lot of twists and turns, it would have been cool to have one available even if it was uncovered only as you reached new areas.
Playing Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition will bring back memories of simpler JRPGs that offered fun characters, engaging stories, and colourful worlds. Thankfully, the few issues that make it show its age don't take much away from its overall enjoyment.
- + Wonderfully colourful and stylistic visuals
- + Fantastic group of engaging characters
- + Rewarding character progression and simple yet fun battle system
- - Lacks the refinement of modern JRPGs
- - Battles may be too simplistic for some
- - Overworld lacks interesting spots