Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, tri-Crescendo
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), PS3, PC
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Tales of Zestiria is the latest game in the long-running and critically acclaimed Tales series of RPGs. Originally released in Japan for PS3, the game was localized and released in the west on PS4 as well as PC.
Zestiria follows Sorey, a young man raised by the Seraphim, a race of supernatural entities, akin to angels, and his burden as the Shepherd. Accompanied by Seraph and childhood friend Mikleo, Sorey sets out from his home on a mission to purify the malevolence plaguing his world. Along the way, he picks up company in the forms of Alisha, a knight and Princess, Rose, a merchant by day and assassin by night, and a host of different Seraphim, each belonging to a cardinal element.
Grand plot aside, much of the smaller stories and character depth, like previous Tales entries, is told through the use of skits. These skits range from Sorey and Mikleo squabbling about various ruins they have explored to things like Rose freaking out about how the Seraphim are real. This style of story telling is a staple of the series and is still one of the best parts of the franchise.
Tales of Zestiria uses a different variant of the Linear Motion Battle System that Tales games are noted for. In this entry, players can use a fusion style battle system, allowing for human characters to fuse with one of the Seraphim for increased damage, elemental effects and more. This allows for versatility when it comes to enemy types as you can swap elements on the fly to adapt to any situation.
When not fused, the battle system is about what you would expect for a Tales game; fast-paced and fun. Players can mix physical attacks and magic based ones for insane combos, move around the battle map for better positioning to dodge attacks. Players have the ability to give commands to the AI controlled characters, ordering them to focus attacks, spread out or to turtle and play defensively.
The sound and art design are as beautiful as ever with Tales of Zestiria. The game world is bright and colorful and transitions flawlessly from location to location. Speaking of transitions, there are seamless transitions from the field to battle sequences and back again. It is also the same for cutscenes, as well. Players will have Sorey walk towards his objective and WITHOUT fading to black, the cutscene begins pulling Sorey into the actual animation. It is phenomenal and one of the many reasons it is so easy to get lost in this new world.
The sound is even better. You get the choice of playing with the original Japanese audio or the English dubbed track which is always nice for the purists who prefer subs over dubs. The games soundtrack is fantastic, with music that matches the tone so perfectly during cutscenes and energetic battle music, too. Hell, even the opening theme to the game kicks ass. It is so well done that I could go on and on.
Of course, once beating the main story, there is more to do. Bonus dungeons and battles, additional DLC content and multiple difficulty levels to be unlocked and hours upon hours of game time. For completionists, getting that Platinum trophy will require many, many man hours and it is glorious.
Now, while there is plenty great about this game, there are moments and little things that cause a few problems. The story is good, however there are moments that you do see coming. These are few and far between but they do exist. There are some minor clipping issues when it comes to the different fashion items and what not as well and during battles, if you get backed into a corner, the camera does become your worst enemy.
But even with these minor issues, it is still a fantastic game and one of the best Tales games that I have ever played, maybe one of the best RPGs. If you are a hardcore RPG fan or just a gamer looking for a good story, I HIGHLY recommend Tales of Zestiria.