TALES OF ZESTIRIA
By Kevin "Methodone89" van Dongen on October 28, 2015
I have to be totally honest with you; I haven’t played the last few entries in the ‘Tales of’ series. Nevertheless, I was really eager to get hands-on with the latest installment in the series: Tales of Zestiria. Tales of Zestiria, just like every previous ‘Tales of’ game, is an epic Hero-based Fantasy RPG, which focuses its story on the passion of the characters in it. This time around, the role of main protagonist is set aside for Sorey, a guy who takes his rightful place as savior of the world and becomes the Shepherd this troubled world needs.
Sorey is a human who was raised by Seraphim and was granted some of their mystical powers, like “resonance”, so he can interact with the Seraphim. Sorey is an adventurer at heart and always prepared to discover something new and dangerous. Together with his self-proclaimed ‘Brother’ and childhood friend Mikleo (who happens to be a Water-based seraph), he goes on a quest to return peace to the land once more.
Throughout the entire land, an impurity, generated by the negative emotions of humanity, known as Malevolence creates monsters called the Hellion. These Hellion pose a serious threat to mankind, so Sorey, after becoming a Shepherd by sealing a pact with a fire Seraph named Lailah, now holds the power to calm the Hellion and is clearly the right person to rid the world of this blasted Malevolence. Apart from humans, Hellion and Seraphim, Dragons play an important role in both the world lore and main story arc, but do not follow their traditional representation as being good or evil or creatures; they’re actually Seraphim who are corrupted by the Malevolence.
That’s quite the mouthful and for me, the story quickly became a bit overwhelming. Later in the game, the lore is explained in small bits and it becomes a lot clearer. The story isn’t something new but, it’s enjoyable in many ways. Tales of Zestiria houses a lot of unique characters, all with their own personality, which are beautifully designed. Zestiria, originally developed for the Playstation 3, looks slightly better on the PS4. It wouldn’t match the standards that some of the AAA titles have set over the last few months but, considering this is a completely different game than those titles it’s not that much of an issue.
Tales of Zestiria is an action role-playing game at heart and the fantasy setting makes it just that much more enjoyable. The game features a huge open world for you to explore and lets you discover brand new items, friends and of course enemies. As you go out into this expansive world, you’ll never know what might await you. The locations are all designed in a similar way as the characters, all colorful and bright with amazing artwork. As with previous titles in the series, the game uses the trademark action-based Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS). The variant used in Zestiria is called the Fusionic Chain LMBS.
LMBS incorporates special skills called artes. There are two types of artes: melee-based artes which human characters specialize in, while Seraph characters employ mid-to-long range magical artes. These artes are further divided into multiple categories for each character but, I’ll leave that for you to experience. Both Artes can interrupt the standard attacks, for a more controllable combo. Characters can also cast spells in order to heal teammates or attack enemies.
Sorey and Rose can perform "Armitization", which fuses them with an active Seraph partner to produce a powerful hybrid form. Not only does this fusing alter the stats and skills of Sorey and Rose, but also their appearance. Super Saiyan Sorey can perform magical attacks of the element the active Seraph represents, he can wield a large sword and use fire-based magic (when fused to Lailah), shoot water arrows using a bow (when fused to Mikleo), use stone fists and summon stone pillars (when fused to Edna), and gain blade-like wings and summon whirlwinds (when fused to Dezel/Zaveid). Oh, and have I mentioned he does this all while looking totally bad-ass and awesome?!
Before I sign off, there is one more thing I would like to add to this review. Although I actually skipped it the first time I started the game, Tales of Zestiria’s opening movie is absolutely amazing! The entire game features some of the most amazing anime cut scenes and while I may have skipped the opening movie the first time, I’ve never skipped another movie again for the course of the entire game. It wasn’t until I was more than an hour into the game that the game’s title and opening movie played, which, lucky for me, was the same movie shown at the start of the game. The music and visuals are so overwhelming that I will probably remember it for years to come, even if I were never to play the game again. Don’t believe me? Just click here to see for yourself!
All these elements, together with the beautifully drawn anime cutscenes that visualize a huge part of the game, make Tales of Zestiria one of the best RPG’s I have played in quite a while. I enjoyed the game until the very end and now it’s up to you to experience this amazing and heroic story of friendship, peril and fun.