After a year-long hiatus, my brother and I finally finished Tales of Xillia (with the same sentiment that we’re glad there’s a sequel to it). While we both love the Tales series, leading an adult life sometimes doesn’t leave a lot of time for an intensive JRPG, which leads us to having a backlog on the other Tales games. Knowing we have at least 200+ hours of game waiting for us when we get around to it can be somewhat daunting, especially when there’s been conflicting news concerning the quality of them. Yet, despite the feeling that the series has taken a few steps back during the recent years, I can’t help but be excited for the newest one: Tales of Berseria.
Berseria takes place in an area called The Wasteland, ruled by the Midgand Sacred Kingdom (at some point, we’re probably gonna fight God). The lands are plagued by an affliction called “Daemonblight” by which humans are turned into monsters which, in turn, seems to be connected to something called the “Scarlet Night”—a night where the moon turns red. Three years ago, protagonist Velvet Crowe was betrayed on the Scarlet Night, orphaning her and leaving her with the desire for revenge against the one(s) who betrayed her. For now, however, she sails the seas of Midgand alongside a young boy who has been used as a tool for his whole life, and is just now learning how to be human.
While earlier games dealt with themes like the power of friendship and the ecological impact of technology, Berseria is zeroing in on the duality of emotion and logic. While this is always an implicit struggle in all RPGs, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s woven into the story as a main theme. Although, I have to wonder if this theme was chosen simply because of the protagonist. While Xillia had dual protagonists—Milla and Jude—Berseria is the first Tales game to feature a female protagonist. So, in some ways, it’s easy to think “oh, well of course the game starring a woman is about being emotional”, especially when Velvet is touted as being extremely emotional. When breaking down characters in such simple ways, they all have the ability to sound completely cliche and uninteresting, yet some Tales characters are my favorite characters of all. Whether or not this ends up being a sexist mess depends entirely on the writing, and for once I actually believe it’s not going to be terrible. I mean, Velvet’s strong emotions are driven largely from rage and the desire for revenge. That sounds pretty sick.
The biggest complaint I’ve heard about this Zestiria prequel is about Velvet’s outfit, and I can agree. Not only is the outfit entirely impractical and ridiculous, it’s cut in a way to show the most skin possible. Looking at what we know about Velvet thusfar, the outfit doesn’t even make any sense. She’s a pirate who gets into a lot of fights: why would she leave so much of herself exposed? Why is the only armor she has on her ankles and one wrist? JRPG character designs aren’t really known for their practicality, but this just reeks of “sexism is over” design choices. (Spoilers: sexism isn’t over). The most I can say about this is that at least they made Velvet a legitimate adult, rather than dressing a teenager in these clothes.
Outside of this, the game looks gorgeous and I’m truly interested in seeing how the purported ship building mechanic works—a pirate’s gotta have a sweet ship, after all. Berseria is slated to come out in Japan sometime during 2016, and the localized version may not be too far behind, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was late 2017 until it came out. Whenever its arrival, it seems like a good addition to the Tales library… even if the battle system might not be so great.