What is Tales of Berseria?
Tales of Berseria is a Japanese role playing game, and part of the long running "Tales of" series. A franchise best known for its kooky characters, brightly coloured anime stylings and frantic button-mashing battles, Berseria sticks to the series' tradition, albeit in a slightly darker way. The game tells the tale of the young Velvet, a part-demon girl who's on a quest for revenge, searching for the man who killed her younger brother. Unfortunately for Velvet, since this guy killed her brother, he's somehow managed to ascend to the top of a ruling organisation known as the Abbey - meaning she'll need to rely on the help of a cast of unusual outcasts if she wants to get her revenge.
How do you play Tales of Berseria?
Essentially, there are two chunks to Tales of Berseria - the more exploratory wanders around caves, dungeons and fields, and the town to town, with periodic cutscenes and story segments along the way. Whilst you're out and about though, you'll likely be attacked by the local wildlife, soldiers and more powerful bosses, where you'll need to beat them into submission in the trademark Tales of button-mashing real-time battles. Different button combinations trigger different attack combos, and by exploiting enemy weaknesses in battle, as well as inflicting various status conditions, you can gain the upper hand, letting you perform longer and longer combos for greater damage. As she is part demon, Velvet can also call on the power of her demonic left hand for some seriously strong claw slashes, throws and other flashy manoeuvres.
How easy is Tales of Berseria to pick up and play?
With a number of different difficulties to choose from, including a Simple difficulty for those who simply want to enjoy the story, there's a level to suit all abilities here - and, if you find yourself struggling, you can dial the difficulty down at any time from the System Menu -> Options, accessible via the Touch Pad (on PS4). Generally speaking, it's always fairly easy to work out where you need to go next, too, as you're fairly limited as to how far off the beaten track you can go in the dungeons, fields and caves you'll come across on your journey. Some secrets are hidden off the beaten path, but by and large, they're not especially numerous, while a big friendly star or exclamation mark on the mini-map shows you where you need to head next - and you can bring up a written rundown of your next objective with a tap of the R1 button too.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the Tales of Berseria is its battles. If you're not careful, and attack too many times, you'll end up running down your attack meter, meaning enemies may start to block your attacks, or inflict you with status ailments. Ideally, you want to balance your offence with some defence, giving your meter time to recharge between onslaughts, attacking with the moves your enemies are weak to as and when you can (if it pops up with a red 'power hit' when you land an attack, you're on to a winner). Easier difficulties are more forgiving when it comes to the nuances of the battle system however, so if you're finding yourself struggling to land hits, you may want to change it down.
Fully voiced, there's not even a great deal of reading to be done either - occasional bits crop up when talking to non-mission-critical townsfolk and shopkeepers, but all story sections and cutscenes are spoken out loud.
- "Listen to what Benwick has to say."
- "Hey, Velvet! If you need hunting supplies, come to me!… Not that there's anywhere else to go, mind."
- "According to the calendar, tomorrow should be Scarlet Night. The Opening seven years ago was on Scarlet Night, too. I hope nothing terrible happens."
On the whole, Tales of Berseria is a bit of a darker game than its predecessors - and seeing as you're effectively playing as a band of villains out for revenge, the game does feature more mature content than the average Tales game. Battles are fast and frantic, with characters attacking each other with swords, spells and fists, accompanied by impact sounds and cries of pain - although there's no blood to speak of, with defeated enemies simply fading away. However, some cutscenes do show some more violent acts, like a man impaled on a sword, while some scenes also show blood stains on characters' bodies or clothes.
One section shows a female character partially nude (although genitalia and nipples aren't shown), while the odd lines of dialogue stray into the suggestive - "You mean it feels good to get whipped", "Your butt is a bit bulky" and "Eating lots of vegetables will give you bazongas". However, bad language is relatively tame, with the words a*s and bastard cropping up occasionally, but nothing any stronger.