Tales of Berseria. An analysis of the game and the lead heroine [Gaming]steemCreated with Sketch.

in archdruid •  12 days ago

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Introducing the cast and crew of the epic heroes from Tales of Berseria.

What is #Berseria? Hell if I know! Maybe they'll explain what Berseria stands for at the end of the game. Doubtful! That doesn't change the fact that this is the name of one of the best games I've played in many years. It plays like a console #video-game, but it's also #JRPG for the PC available to play on Steam.

Similar games such as Disgaea, Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy III (SNES), Dragon Warrior IV (NES), and Xenoblade Chronicles 2... don't even get me started on how big of disappointment Xenoblade Chroncles 2 turned out to be. This game leaves them ALL in the dust.

Introduction

In this post I'll introduce the main protagonist in Tales of Berseria.

Yes, there will be spoiler screenshots and minor plot details about various characters and scenes you may encounter later in the game, so do not read any further if you can't enjoy a quality game with a few expected surprises. Honestly though, this game isn't super surprising. It follows traditional archetypes and tropes that fans love to nostalgically relive in every awesome game.

I'll also introduce a few key details about other aspects of the game that make it so enjoyable to experience. In this post, I will focus on the graphics, anime art style, and the world design. If I get some positive feedback, I'm also interested in making this post into a series to fully introduce all of the other main characters, to highlight some of their entertaining quirks. That will allow me to further address some of the other key features of this game that make if uniquely charming.

The Heroine

Before I started playing this game, I had read many reviews that complained about the main character being a woman. Even I was starting to roll my eyes that perhaps the game industry was throwing a bit of #gamergate politics my way. Nope! Consider this game the antidote to full censorship indoctrination.

Although I love to be right with my predictions, I could not have been happier to have been proven wrong! The heroine of this story avoids all the new wave politics, and gives men the exact classic formula they want in a leading adventure hero. This game could have been re-cast with a male lead, and it would have followed the exact same formula for the lead character's personality.

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Meet Velvet. Just Velvet. Kind of like Cher. She needs no last name.

She will be your #waifu for the entire journey of this game.

You won't be disappointed, men.

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Who is Velvet?

Apart from being drop-dead gorgeous, and clothed in rags that look like a prototype outfit a runway model might wear, Velvet proves her mettle in nearly every scene to remind you she isn't a typical woman.

She is a criminal with a list of bad things she's done a mile long. Yes she killed many people, but she had to because she was turned into a monster, literally. When she gets really mad, she unleashes a mutant demon arm that rips her opponents to shreds, and it sucks the life-force energy out of them until they disappear in a cloud of blue smoke. On top of that, she fights with a retractable sword that extends from her wrist, sort of like Wolverine.

Velvet is a cold-hearted killer, and she will do anything it takes to get revenge on the man who turned her into a monster and murdered her younger brother.

For those of you who were born later than the 90's, there was once a black-haired leather bound heroine with an almost identical personality and appearance to Velvet. She was so popular to watch on a regular TV series, that she even made Hercules look like a softy in comparison.

Her name was #Xena, the #Warrior-Princess.

Xena and Velvet both have a lot in common. V and X are close neighbors at the end of the alphabet.

They both lack modesty. Their skin is almost always covered in the ashes and blood of their opponents. They wear their scars like trophies for everyone to see.

The are both gifted with a deep resounding voice that dances every word. Musical smoke.

Oddly, they never seem to get cold despite the lack of clothing. Several characters in Tales of Berseria even react with surprise to Velvet's lack of warm clothing. Being a cold-hearted monster, she doesn't seem to notice the cold anymore.

The thing I love best about Xena and Velvet is they never complain about anything. Truly, this is a fantasy because it is every man's dream to find a kick-ass woman who takes care of business without a word of complaint.

Instead of fighting with their words, the two similar women choose to fight with a common sword. They don't need a super elite sword found in the darkest dungeon to reach their peak abilities. From the very beginning to the very end, any dull sword they find is enough to trash titanic foes from the Abyss. At the end of every episode, you don't have to worry. She always wins every fight, and even oddly shares some wholesome encouragement to the other characters she rescued at the end of the entire ordeal.

Like Xena, Velvet never expects an apology. She is happy to apologize for being a little late to rescue everyone else's sorry butts after they foolishly disobeyed warnings to stay back and hide.

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Graphical Experience

Let's talk about the graphics, and why Velvet alone makes this game super enjoyable to simply watch while the story and combat plays out.

Seriously, look at her!

Can you imagine any of the other members of her team wanting to get in her way? No! She always leads. She calls the shots. Everybody trusts her. They know they'll get their ass whooped otherwise.

This is the kind of high caliber lead hero that helps make the entire game believable. With every detail of her costume, she exudes a presence of character that most people can get into and appreciate from the start. Iconic characters like The #Terminator, #Furiosa, #Beetlejuice, and #Batman. From the very first moment you see them on camera, you feel like you already know them. You get the !popcorn ready for what you know is going to be at least a good hour of hardcore action.

The animators for Velvet's character did a fantastic job of with her 3D movements and positions. When she walks, she embraces the attitude of Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead, with that slow cowboy kind of swagger.

Just in case you forget she is a woman, because she walks around acting like a man, her revealing clothing is always there to remind you why you are crushing on her so bad. 😍

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I enjoyed the freedom to accessorize Velvet in her prison rags and this cowboy hat while walking through this winter town. She never notices it's cold out. Other characters even talk about this in the various cut-scenes while wandering the town, so it makes me feel like I am interacting with the story by changing her outfit in this way.

In full 3D action combat, her silhouettes are amazing. It is a bit like watching Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy fame, doing flips, spinning heel kicks, and slashing with relentless fury. Look at her eyes! She's badass through-and-through!

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One early treat in the game is the title screen of the game. From the very beginning, we are greeted with Velvet walking out through a white dream screen every time you boot up the game. She doesn't say anything, but you can hear her footsteps as she approaches in the dead silence.

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Later on in the game, we see this odd white backdrop again. It represents the calm, psychotic nightmares Velvet experiences. They are very artistic moments hidden in the game, to give deeper insight into the thoughts and feelings of this dark heroine. It is really hard to fight the feeling of being locked inside of an insane asylum with the padded walls when Velvet has one of these dreams she can't escape. Each time she is tortured with the bittersweet pain of seeing her brother, yet ( #spoiler-warning ) unable to do anything to prevent him from being murdered.

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There are various anime stylized cut-scenes throughout the game. One of these amazing scenes can be watched prior to the title screen, and it plays out with exhilarating music and flying camera angles. It's a bit like watching the Introduction Theme Song to Thundercats. Take for instance these fully clothed heroes leaping off a pirate ship in the middle of the ocean, not afraid of sharks or hypothermia.

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Also the regular cut-scenes throughout the game are included as transitions between various lands to be explored while fighting monsters. I like that these scenes provide context to the actions I am taking. Supporting characters react with conversations about our progress so far on the main quest line. It almost feels like I am interacting with them directly. In the #anime illustration style, many times they only show the upper body drawn in the same pose. When characters interact with each other in these scenes, characters are often redrawn to show them in new poses to highlight a change in emotion and thinking. A convenient story-telling way to give the game that comic book sort of vibe that most of us enjoy.

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It never gets stale with the fresh voice acting for every scene. The clever dialog, which appears in easy-to-read subtitles along with the voice audio always ends with a hook or a clincher to thicken the plot. A good cliffhanger makes me want to continue to explore what is up ahead the next corner. Leveling up a sword or skill is not really a concern to the plot or gameplay ever. The continuous inclusion of the anime style cut-scenes always refocuses our gameplay back to the story, where it belongs.

World Building

Designing a fantasy world that is both fun and believable to explore seems to be a feat that few games in the modern era are able to fully accomplish. Tales of Berseria nails it 99% of the time (I only have one minor critique, which I will mention later on). Thankfully, every new area to explore is designed to impress the player far beyond their expectations.

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Last week I was exploring a new town I found in the game, and I think I spent an hour or two just walking around it. Of course I was having fun while hopping up and down stairs, because I kept finding hidden treasure chests and recipe ingredients along the way. One of the villagers told me a colorful tale about brown jelly he invented, for the sole purpose of selling it so people around the world can prank others by hiding it underneath toilet seats. This kind of off-the-wall random interaction with NPC's is what makes this game unlike any other I have ever played. Every NPC lends clues and easter eggs that run parallel with the main story, or in hyper contrast as something completely unrelated to anything, yet vastly entertaining.

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With the docks, huts, villagers, and decorations inside and outside the buildings, it really felt like someone had designed everything down to the last detail to seem like a real 3D world in every direction. Distant hills and sunsets are a moving backdrop that somehow seems connected to everything else, like you could actually sail into the sun if you had a boat. I was taken aback especially by the stained glass windows of the chapel where candles were flickering with a warm glow. The entire space exuded the ambiance of a holy room with a spiritual nature.

When I interacted with the priest inside, he offered a new conversation each time. At least three different times a comical voiced conversation with him took place, in which he attempts to get my characters to repent for their sins. Instead the poor preacher begins to rethink his line of work because of the brevity of sin he learns about our group which he had never dreamed could exist.

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Sometimes the cut-scenes are in full 3D, and within the same location I am currently exploring. One time I was exploring part of the town on the upper docks, and one of the villains walked through ahead of us to have a conversation we were not meant to hear. The characters hid behind the building I was next to, providing a very cinematic experience that immerses me deeper into the fully interactive world.

For #Skyrim fans, this is very similar in style to wandering around the vast towns and castles while NPC's offer details on side quests and sometimes even lead the way to the next hidden area. It almost has the same first-person story type of a feeling. Personally, I think Tales of Berseria has towns that are better designed, and in some cases just as vast as Skyrim. Not every building can be entered, however, but there is always a weapons/items store, an inn, a tavern, and a few quest locations or NPC buildings you can go inside.

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In other games, they have extra buildings to enter that provide no purpose other than to add a pointless side-quest. I am actually kind of revealed I don't have to waste time completing silly errands for NPC's who lend nothing to the main story. The game keeps flowing forward, as fast or slow as I choose to explore my current environment. Instead, I can think about how to reach a plank up above I can see that crosses a tower which leads to secret door or chest. Everything is designed to make you want to look around and explore. Every location is absolutely mesmerizing to look at. Almost as tantalizing as Velvet... never-mind. Not even close, but still enjoyable!

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As if running around towns, dungeons, and fields of monsters wasn't enough to make the world feel large and expansive, Tales of Berseria also includes lots of action on the open seas. One of the central elements to this story seems to be the developers' fascination with #pirates. I can't complain. With the many scenes of traveling on a pirate ship, these are a nice treat to help transition one chapter ending, and a new one beginning. Many of the characters we meet in the game seem to have the swashbuckler style about them, and others seem more akin to Peter Pan's Lost Boys.

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Never-Never-Land was an island world with oddities of its own, and in Tales of Berseria sometimes we encounter strange animals, plants, and landmarks that do not exist in a normal world. Each time one of these is found, there is a character available who turns out to be an expert on the subject all-to-willing to share the lore-rich stories behind these discoveries.

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My Only Criticism

There is only one thing I can really say this game does poorly, that I think should be improved, and this is a very minor detail. In most RPG's, to speak with an NPC and to open a chest, all you have to do is run up to the adjacent tile and hit a button. In Tales of Berseria, you have to rotate the camera and stand at the exact front of the NPC or chest in order to interact. Often times I miss because my moving character sort of slides off along side my target. The 3D world doesn't really provide a footer to help hold your character at the exact location you need to stand in to interact properly.

It can be a little bit frustrating at times when two interactable NPC's are standing too close together. Instead of interacting with the NPC I am facing to speak with, it triggers the NPC that is closer to me. Sometimes it takes me three tries just to stand in the correct position to interact with the person or thing I am trying to trigger. Annoying. Again, this is such a minor detail, but it is worth noting.

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Conclusion

If you like playing RPG's with a very relaxed gameplay style, and a bright #fantasy world to casually explore, I highly recommend Tales of Berseria. In this post I haven't talked much about the combat system, but I can assure it is geniously designed to allow for heaps of complex strategies, or conversely allow the most lazy automatic AI play style (yes, I play this way almost all the time!).

I really did not think I would enjoy a game with a female protagonist obsessed with her little brother, but for some reason it works, and it doesn't come across as being soft at all. Every quest feels like another episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, where Xena and Gabrielle team up with another guest star to defeat mythical monsters in order to get closer to finding revenge on the God villain. In the true Hollywood style, Velvet's hair is always a carefully manicured "hot mess", yet so carefully positioned to never get out of place or in the way. Instead it waves behind her like a tail as she fights and runs. Though the main character is dead serious on her hellbent desire to enact revenge against her arch-nemesis, and kill anyone who gets in her way, there are still warm moments and comic relief provided by some of the other supporting characters who are far less dark and serious about life. In a future post, I'll be introducing each of them so you can more fully appreciate these delightfully designed characterizations.

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So in conclusion, if you don't like games with incredibly appealing character graphics, smoky hot voice acting, plot twisting dialog, an ensemble cast of super-model baddies you can dress up however you like, a balanced cast of varied heroes, real-time battles with customizable difficulty and complexity, a sense of purpose in every battle to reach a given goal in the main story, and a thrill ride set within a pirate themed fantasy world... then don't buy this game. Buy Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a childish game filled with thousands of hours grinding your way to earn meaningless rewards, and with none of the classic edginess Tales of Berseria is loaded with.

What did Tales of Berseria cost me? My new friend @ahmadmanga sold me this game as a simple Steam Key, for instant download, for I believe a total of $7 SBD. I bet he's hitting his head on his keyboard now after reading this post if he hasn't played this awesome game yet. In comparison, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is still selling for $59.99 at retails stores, and it isn't half the gameplay value Tales of Berseria is.

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I'd like to plug @ahmadmanga again by just stating that he runs an incredibly helpful blog for gamers here on Steemit, with reviews on various RPG games I love and unbeatable sales on hundreds of popular game titles. He's very patient and professional to do business with. The extra personal touch puts him miles above the competition in my book. For that reason of quality service and awesome value, I am definitely going to check his inventory of games again before I ever consider over-paying for a game on Steam. @ahmadmanga is a true asset to the #Archdruid gaming community.

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Thank you for checking out my game review and character analysis for Tales of Berseria. Comments are the best part about posting. Make sure you drop a few below if you have anything you want to share. I especially enjoy learning about other people's related experiences.

Bonsai!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

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I am (currently @quekery) a curator for AkibaSteem and this is just to let you know that I upvoted your post:

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Awesome. I love finding about new curation communities. Anime art is definitely one of my favorite topics to curate too.

I think I'm seeing a Velvet fan here... a big fan at that :D

I know a friend who didn't play Berseria because the protagonist was a girl, meh, she does the job better than many men. I would bring forward several other flaws in the game, even for JRPG fans, HOWEVER, I also strongly consider this game to have more pluses that minuses.

It's not graphically breathtaking, but it's pretty nice and well done, full of little details like many other entries in the Tales entries. The history is actually quite good, well, now that I'm thinking ALL tales have good history to be honest, it's just that Berseria shows a more mature perspective than usual in JRPG.

Now that you mention it, she does seem similar to Xena, the warrior princess, never thought about it while playing the game but they do have similar characteristics.

On a final note, all Tales Of xxx have a leading letter from the alphabet representing something of the world or the main cast. We've got quite a few letters already, Destiny, Xillia, Symphonia, World, Abyss, Graces, Vesperia and now Berseria :D. I think it's a reference to berserker in this case, no? to the fact of how Velvet looks like a berserker at time, sacrificing everything just for the sake of vengeance.

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Yeah there are some other flaws, but they are so minor. It is funny when you see a monster... and you are thinking "Haven't I seen that exact same monster model in the last game?" Obviously the designers were more interested in the story and easy game mechanics than rebuilding every asset of the game. Those snake women in particular, their voices drive me crazy in every game they are in, but they wouldn't be a Tales monster without the expected gargly voice.

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Hahahaha, yeah, about time they change assets :D

I have to admit that Berseria has one of the most comfortable game mechanics and combat in the series. Really comfy once you get used to it.

Your post was upvoted by the @archdruid gaming curation team in partnership with @curie to support spreading the rewards to great content. Join the Archdruid Gaming Community at https://discord.gg/nAUkxws. Good Game, Well Played!

Thanks for the mention, talking about me and this analysis which I skimmed through to not spoil the game on myself. and Really thanks for the praise of my service.

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You're welcome!