Tales of Zestiria (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 16.11.2015

Review for Tales of Zestiria on PC

Produced by Hideo Baba and developed by Bandai Namco, Tales of Zestiria has a huge name and reputation to live up to as the newest heir in the long line of beloved JRPGs. In an attempt to show its progress, the game has attempted several distinct departures from previous Tales games instead of following the more mundane, but beloved, formulas.

The Tales games have been a consistent source of enjoyment for JRPG fans ever since Tales of Symphonia burst onto the scene back in the GameCube days. While prior Tales games had made it out of Japan, Symphonia was the big name. Since then, the Tales games have practically exploded with titles like Abyss, Legendia, Vesperia, Graces, Hearts, Dawn of a New World, and both Xillia games. A mighty big legacy to live up to, for sure, but Tales of Zestiria faces an additional challenge; the modern gamer is more focused on action, crafting, and the like, over the more traditional Tales gameplay. In order to compete, Tales of Zestiria tried a few new things out… and, sadly, most of them fell flat.

With a story steeped in both Arthurian and Christian lore, Tales of Zestiria follows the story of Sorey, a young boy raised by beings called 'Seraphim'. Seraphim are powerful, magical beings hindered by one major weakness; most of the world can't see, hear, or even really 'feel' them rendering them as little more than ghosts. Sorey is different, however, as he has been raised by them and, as such, seeing them and being with them is as natural as being with any normal human. All is not well though as chaos is starting to sweep over the world as malevolence grows. Upon pulling a Seraphic sword from an alter, kept by a female Seraph named Lailah, Sorey is designated as the 'Shepard' tasked with freeing the world from the malevolence and chaos.

Screenshot for Tales of Zestiria on PC

To be up-front, the main issue with Tales of Zestiria is that it does so much right that it feels frustrating when things go wrong. For example, in order to try and make things more 'active' the game tries to make it so most battles take place right on the world map. In theory this is interesting and a great way to ramp up the action. In practice though, it means most dungeons and fields are full of wide-open spaces to make room for the combat. This also means areas are sparsely populated with foes - to keep things from overlapping - only to end up with the battles themselves being almost identical to other entries in the series. This feels like a net loss, all for a change that didn't feel needed.

The battles themselves are interesting but suffer from the same sort of issue. There are three primary types of combat skills: martial, hidden, and Seraphic; each with their own advantages over the other. For example, Seraphic arts (magic) can be easily interrupted by the basic attacks but, should the opponent attack with an arte, not only will the arte not stun them, it will actually increase the casting speed, making it come out faster! This tries to make a balance between the two but all it means is that an opponent opting to start casting right before an arte connects is outright frustrating. Also, any group of foes with more than two of the high-damage casters is cause for a potential party wipe simply due to how easy it is to have them run around out of control and have their casting speed potentially boosted on top of it.

Screenshot for Tales of Zestiria on PC

This isn't to say the game is bad by any means. After all, in order to be frustrating there has to be something good to be frustrated over. The difficulty is pitched well, so long as there aren't excessive casters on the field. Foes often boast at least one weakness and, should they be attacked by said weakness, they take bonus damage. This may sound stock and obvious but, on the higher difficulties, this bonus gets amplified. Playing the game on hard or higher can actually make at least the not-ungodly-cheap-due-to-multiple-casters battles actually go faster and easier than playing on normal difficulties, but only if the player is competent enough to be able to keep the bonus damage coming.

The characters, for the most part, are solid and likeable. While they may not be as iconic as Lloyd or as affable as Pascel, they are, on the whole, well thought out and have far more personality than plenty of other characters; especially in more recent times. Things like the return of the grade system, if in a slightly different form, are a vast improvement over the more recent title-based systems.

Screenshot for Tales of Zestiria on PC

Lastly there are a few 'controversial' things within the game. The Tales games are no strangers to DLC; either for prolonged segments of the game or for extras that affect the entirety of the game. In Zestiria though, there is a sense of injustice as one of the characters featured heavily in the promotion of the game is soon removed from the party and only further unlocked through DLC. However, the game still works fine on its own and is still solid despite the choice that was made. While it may have not been the best, far too many seem to have blown the severity of what happened out of the water.

But that's really the games big issue. On its own it's still a great little RPG, even if it does suffer from some bad decisions, but it will likely be judged really harshly by a fanbase that, rightfully so, should expect better. Had it followed a more traditional outline, Zestiria still wouldn't be perfect but many of the complaints wouldn't be around either.

Screenshot for Tales of Zestiria on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Tales of Zestiria, despite its pointless attempt to reinvent the wheel, holds its own very well and is a solid and enjoyable RPG. Some longtime fans may end up being disappointed due to the attempt to fix what wasn't broken, but it all ultimately fits together and works well enough. This might not be the King Arthur of the Tales series, but it's still at least present at the Round Table.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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