If there’s one thing we can all lament this generation, it’s the lack of great Japanese Role Playing games coming out. While the structure and design is certainly dated, there’s a charm to grinding your team of mostly annoying protagonists against a clichéd antagonist in a beautifully crafted world with some of the best music to just fall into a trance with. Thank whatever you like to look up to a praise then that Tales of Zestiria exists.
Don’t get me wrong, there are flaws present and it very much plays by the book but when you are absent of pure quality, you can easily overlook the flaws. Tales of Zestiria is one such game. You play as a Shepard Sorey who must go on an epic quest that is made more complicated by the antagonist Heldaf, and the Hellion which are monsters made out of pure evil – Don’t forget there are also warring nations.
Throughout the game, Sorey will gather a team in order to take everything on and for the most part, each character has enough traits to keep them memorable, even if they don’t really develop throughout the 30-40 hour story.
Speaking of story, despite all the forces mentioned above, it’s a very easy story to follow almost to the extent that you may lose some interest along the way. It’s told clearly which is a huge plus considering so many stories try to sound smart and come off as convoluted in the end (Halo 4 springs to mind) but it all comes together clearly enough meaning should you walk away for a few days, or weeks even, you won’t feel lost upon returning to it.
One of the high points, and it has been for a long time in any Tales of game is the visuals. Everything is so colourful and beautiful too look at from the environments to even the character’s clothes and enemy designs. The cut-scenes are just incredible to look at and a joy to behold.
Exploring the world is semi-open and then littered with linear dungeons. It works totally fun and is only hampered in its linearity at times when you just feel like you’re lost in some of them. There’s plenty of branching paths and they all feel meaningful as there are plenty of things to find like secrets and monoliths that give information to the world and lore.
The biggest advancement to be found in Zestiria is the gameplay. When in combat, it’s always been fast and action-oriented but Zestiria brings it to a new level. In the beginning, it’s all relatively simple but standard combos but when the Spirit Chain (SC) is introduced, it brings a new risk-reward system into the mix. However, when you pull off these SC attacks, you are vulnerable as well as how you recharge them which tasks you to be guarding or just standing idle meaning a massive attack can happen should you not be careful enough. The game also allows you to stack party abilities to create new skills as well as some players being able to fuse which allows them to pull off massive attacks if they have a certain companion.
For fans of the Tales of series, it is exactly what you may be expecting. Both the narrative and characters and standard but the visuals, music and combat keeps the game very entertaining throughout its runtime. There’s something magic about the series and that magic is still very strong in Zestiria.