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Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (PC) Review

February 13, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

The original Tales of Vesperia was one of my gaming white whales when it originally was released on the Xbox 360. I got the game and played around half of it but then got overwhelmed with all the side content and lost where I was even supposed to go in the game. Thankfully that didn’t happen again as I played this version but you can clearly tell this s a game from a somewhat different era.

From a story perspective, I think Vesperia is one of the best Tales games, but I haven’t played every single one of them, so perhaps my opinion is moot. First, the thing I like about this game is that aside from one main character, all have normal names. Yuri, Rita, Estelle, Judith, these are all names that are real. It’s none of this Laphicet (Berseria), Sorey (Zesteria), or Muzet (Xillia) crap. The only questionable name in the game is Karol, for a male character, and that’s not even that bad in the grand scheme of things.

As for the actual story, it’s pretty solid. Yuri is a pretty classic anti-hero but is still heroic. He joins up with Estelle, a princess with a lot of power, Karol, a young hunter, Rita, a talented mage, and Judith, a dragon rider, and they all have some adventures.

To be honest, the actual plot of Vesperia is a tad schizophrenic. You’re introduced to bad guys, take them out, and then an even worse bad guy shows up who reveals he was pulling the strings for a while. That’s not to say it’s bad at all, it just meanders for a while and takes a really long time to get going.

The combat is probably one of the ways the game hasn’t aged that well. You have a melee attack button and an arte (magic) button. You can change the properties of these attacks by holding on a direction. So holding up on the analog stick means you’ll do upward attacks. This works for artes also, but you can select whichever arte you want in the menu.

The reason the combat hasn’t aged that well is the presentation. You are in a 3D combat environment but generally locked to a 2D plane when it comes to attacking. There is a button that you hold to activate 3D movement, so you can run around the level, but then this disables your directional attacks.

This feels weird! I say that in bold to get this point across. You’re either locked to the 2D plane where enemies can (and do) gang up on you from all sides, or you can evade them by running around but then you don’t have access to as many powerful attacks. It just feels really strange to actually play.

There are two other systems that make this game seem like it’s from a different time: the map and the inventory.

As far as the map goes it is barely helpful. There’s only an overworld map, which only tells you visitable locations. It doesn’t tell you where you need to go to start the next story point. There is an in-game journal to kind of bring you up to speed if you’ve lost your place, but it’s not that helpful. There isn’t a dungeon map, or even a basic arrow telling you where to go, which would have been helpful.

Along that, there is a quirk with the inventory system. You can only hold 15 of any consumable item at once. So, let’s say you to buy every Life Bottle (Phoenix Down) from the store, you can’t because you can only hold 15. Once you beat the game, you have the option to boost your inventory up, but this is still a pretty bad system.

One system I did like in the game how you gain new skills and level up. Your weapons will have various skills on them like “Guard” or “Backstep” that will become available to use while the weapon is equipped. You will also gain proficiency in the skill as you battle. Eventually, you can learn the skill which means you can then equip a different weapon but still keep that skill.

When you level up, aside from gaining some small increases to your HP and TP (magic), you’ll gain skill points. For the skills you gain through weapons, you can turn them on or off in this menu, provided you have enough points to use them. Say you want to have Taunt and Item Thrower on, Taunt requires 2 points and Item Thrower requires 7, but you only have 8 points available, you’ll have to pick and choose which is the more valuable skill to have. Also, some skills add active abilities like said Backstep or Combination, while others are more passive bonuses like adding damage to your attacks or increasing your magic ability.

There is a lot to do aside from battling and leveling. There is a whole synthesis system where you can make new items and better weapons for your characters. There is also a cooking system where you can gain temporary buffs from eating meals, assuming you don’t fail at making them.

Finally, there is a whole lot of side stuff to do, like I said above, if you want to partake of it. There are special monsters to hunt down, a secret casino to visit, a mini-game involving your dog party member peeing around the world, etc. If you mainline the game, you’re still looking at a 30 to 40 hour JRPG at the least but with the extra stuff, it can double the time.

To be sure, this game certainly looks better than the old 360 version. It is sharper and the framerate is a lot faster than it used to be. The problem is the audio in the game.
This version of Vesperia used the PS3 version of the game as its base for the upscale. The PS3 version only came out in Japan, so it never got translated or had voice acting from the American actors. So, there are some inconsistencies when going from an originally voice acted scene to a new one, because the actors are different. Most of them do match up reasonably OK but the guy they got to replace Yuri really sounds different and isn’t great.

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Tales of Vesperia, Marc Morrison