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Tales of Zestiria

Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studio Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

I will start this by telling you that I love the Tales of series. Iíve played quite a number of them now, and I have yet to find one that I donít like. It just varies a bit as to how much I like them. The new Tales of Zestiria is not an exception to that rule!

If youíre looking for ultra-realistic, then the whole series probably isnít for you. The graphics are beautiful, but they are more on the end of a beautiful anime than trying to look real, which I prefer. During the cutscenes, you do feel like you are watching an anime. During the game, your characters are fluid and easy to handle and everything is beautifully done. The characters all have distinct personalities and it shows in their appearances. The seraphim are all different and colorful and the colors they wear fit in with their powers. The enemies are extremely varied and well done. You donít get bored of simply fighting the same monster over and over.

Every time you start up the game, it asks you if you want to play in English or Japanese. I like having the choice of both. The background music is well done. It changes from location to location, so that it always fits the feel of the area. Some of the places have calm and soothing music, but in others, it is very upbeat and fast. I like the changes. They did a really good job of making the music match the location.


Gameplay:

Tales of Zestiria tells the story of Sorey and Mikleo, who were raised as brothers by Gramps after he found them. Sorey is human, but Mikleo is a Seraph. Normally humans canít see the Seraphim, but since Sorey was raised by Gramps in the Seraphim village, he is special. While exploring ruins, they meet Alisha, a human girl. Sorey takes her back to the village, which is a huge no-no, but since she canít see anyone but him there, he figures thereís no harm done. She tells him that the world outside, where she comes from, is on the verge of devastation! Storms, famine, droughts, even rumors of the dead walking, are all a reality. Before she leaves, she tells him the town is about to hold a ceremony to try and find the next shepherd. Sorey and Mikleo leave the village to try and save Alisha from a Hellion that is after her. Once you get through all of this, the game actually begins!

As you can guess, Sorey is going to become the new Shepherd. He learns that itís even more difficult that he thought. His job is not only to purify and get rid of the malevolents in the world, but he also needs to find and battle the Lord of Calamity to stop the root of the malevolents. Not much, huh? He will, of course, have help. Mikleo will stick by his side, as will Lailah, the Seraph who made Sorey the Shepherd. Along the way, Sorey will pick up other companions as well, like Rose, Dezel, and Edna. Your fighting party can have up to four people. There is a catch to this, though. You can only have as many Seraphim as you have humans. This means that if Sorey is the only human in the party, you will only have one Seraph join you in battle.

As is typical for an RPG, you will spend your time roaming around the map with your party. Along the way, there are quite a lot of things for you to do. There are Hellions all around and these will be the monsters that you fight. After battle, you will earn money and experience. Money can be used to buy things, like weapons, items, and even maps. The Turtlez will sell you maps that they have made and they may help you if you get lost. You will also find chests to open. You canít open them all to begin with, though. Youíll have to find the right keys before you can open the better chests. Also, Monoliths are scattered throughout the land. Reading them will give you tips, but more importantly, it will increase your AP so you can equip more battle actions at once. You can also find various plants that you can harvest to boost your skills.

There are things that you need to do that are new to this particular game. For example, once you install a Seraph as a Lord of the Land, you will need to help raise his blessings. Winning battles in that land will help, and the better battle grade you get, the more it helps. You can also set a normin to add a bonus to the Lord of the Land. You will find normin around. You just have to talk to them when you see them and they will then support the Lord (plus upgrade a weapon for you). Tales of Zestiria has some really funny moments in it that made me laugh out loud. Youíll run across interesting characters, like Zaveid. You can see skits at save points and destination points, so make sure to look for those! Tales of Zestiria is a very long game, so just keep roaming around and eventually youíll get where you need to go.


Difficulty:

Tales of Zestiria provides you with four different difficulty levels: Simple, Normal, Moderate, and Hard, to make sure you will be able to enjoy the story no matter what your difficulty preference. It defaults to Normal when you start the game. You can change the setting at any time, so if you find you are getting stuck, you can lower it, or if you find youíre getting bored, make it harder. Given that this is an RPG, difficulty is also going to be based on your level. If you find things too hard, just go grind for experience in the dungeons. There will be plenty of enemies in most places. Granted, the first few hours of the game are a lot more exploration than they are fighting. I would have liked a bit more battle in the beginning, but you will get your battling soon enough.

You can see a map of the whole area, which makes exploration a lot easier! You will see paths that you canít go on yet, though. They tend to just block the way with a giant boulder until you are supposed to go to that area. It keeps the game free range-ish, but keeps you out of areas that are too difficult for you.

Fusing weapons can make your weapons a lot more powerful, which makes your life easier, but you need to be careful. When you fuse them, it may (doesnít always) change where their skills are. If youíre looking to get the bonuses from stacking skills, fusing weapons can possibly make it appear, but you could also lose the current bonuses you might have. There is an art to fusing weapons and making them what you want, but when you get it right, you can kill easily! I highly recommend saving your game before fusing weapons as you might not want the result.


Game Mechanics:

If youíve ever played a Tales of game before, then you will already know the controls as they are the same as the previous games. This makes it really easy to step in and not have to re-learn anything. If you havenít played, itís not difficult to handle. Tales of Zestiria does a really good job of introducing the controls to you a bit at a time. You should know that when it wants to teach you something during a battle, until you do the move it wants you to learn, you will not be able to inflict (or receive) damage from your opponents. It shows the amount you would normally do on the screen, but they never die.

You can choose to have two people play and the second person will fight during the battles only. The only problem with it is that the camera follows P1, so it can be difficult for P2 to see whatís going on at times. Still, it can be helpful to have a real person that you can talk to during difficult battles. (L1) does some really cool stuff once you unlock the power. It basically lets you combine power with a Seraphim. They call it Armatization. Combining with the different Seraphs will give you different effects. Mystic Artes arenít the worldís easiest to activate, but theyíre worth it. You have to have your BG at 3 or more and not be Armatized. Then, during a combo you can hold down (R2) and (O) to activate a Mystic Arte (after you have learned one). You will also (eventually) have Mystic Artes that you can activate when you are Armatized. These seem to be even harder to trigger, but when you do get them to launch, itís awesome!

You will see glowing balls on the screen in places. These are Save Points. You should make sure to save at every save point you find as you will be able to travel to them later from the Lord of the Land. One thing that tripped me up for a bit was the system at the inns. When you choose the inn, you are offered a menu and a cost for that meal rather than a cost to stay there. The meal you choose is included with the stay, so the cost listed is the cost for the meal and the stay. If you ever forget what you need to do, you can just speak to your partner. They will tell you the subplots and side quests that you have run across. You might have to use the D-pad to scroll through, as only four will be displayed to talk about.

As I said before, I have played a lot of the Tales of games as I love the series. While Tales of Zestiria isnít my absolute favorite of them, itís a really good game and a solid contribution to the series. If youíre looking for a really good RPG that will provide you many, many hours of exciting challenges, check out Tales of Zestiria today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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