Tales of Berseria: Gameplay Impressions

I really enjoy Berseria’s gameplay system. It’s a lot of fun, but it definitely has quirks and needs improvements.

Demo Playthrough

I had a lot of fun in the demo. Namco Bandai did a wonderful job in presenting not just a playable demo that represented the actual product, they also did well by presenting most of the game’s features in really good scenarios and what you’d actually expect while playing the game – from long skits, a lot of enemy encounters in a small glimpse of the overworld, mid-game levels for the characters with enough artes to play around.

As you’d normally expect in a Tales game, the main character (Velvet) was ridiculously easy and fun to play, thanks to her natural combos and her powerful Break Soul abilities.

Unfortunately though, I was disappointed for the rest of the crew. Rokurou, Eizen and Eleanor were okay, but Velvet’s fun was on an entirely different level. Laphicet and Magilou were disappointing because of how hard it was to cast spells with the control system and as spellcasters – they were either too slow (Magilou) or had really short range (Laphicet).

Either way, I still enjoyed Namco Bandai’s gesture for this demo, so I actually did the very thing I rarely did with video games: I preordered my copy of Tales of Berseria.

Learning Curve

Man, I really want to say a lot about the game at this point, but alas, I want to focus on gameplay.

Now that the game is out, I’ve played the heck out of it and after going through a dungeon or two, I’m finally convinced that Berseria’s gameplay is very good.

Stuns! Debuffs! Soul Gauge!

I failed to understand how the soul gauge worked in the demo. Once I figured out that exchanging stuns meant exchanging souls (and that your souls determined the length of your arte combos…), it changed how I played the game. Health points be damned, having a good supply of souls AND making sure that it stays that way is the key to playing well and having fun in fights (and surviving them).

You actually need to think ahead and evaluate whether you should go all out and use Break Souls, or keep your souls balanced until the enemy gets stunned from your hits. Likewise, you’ll want to defend because dropping your guard means a half-assed 2-hit or 1-hit combos unless you tap out and swap your characters or pray for a lucky stun in a single hit or two.

Speaking of defense, the typical Tales sidestep and backstep is super satisfying in this game because it rewards you by nullifying damage AND giving a free soul on a well-timed dodge. It’s a wondeful incentive that certainly helps when you’re in a pinch or when you’re just that good at timing enemy attacks.

Break Souls Done Right

Learning how to use Break Soul abilities and how they worked were eye-openers. Knowing that it worked like mini Burst Artes – a good dose of iron stance + guard break + more powerful than typical artes except Mystic is nice, even if it only lasted a second or two (except for Velvet) because at least it only consumes the current character’s Soul Gauge while refreshing the Blast Gauge.

Knowing that Velvet’s Break Soul temporarily gives you a five-hit combo that didn’t care about your soul gauge AND a guard break AND iron stance while therionized AND a little boost to HP (while it trickles down) was huge. It meant that I could perpetually keep up her therionized state as long as there were enemies to stun or kill. Velvet simply will not die unless she gets hit after her finishing hit.

Rokurou’s was straightforward as it was no different from timing a dodge, but seeing that he can backstab opponents and stun fairly quickly also meant a good flow in combat.

Eizen and Eleanor worked very well once the opportunity appears – Eizen can usually kill his foes to regain souls back when they’re down or stunned, while Eleanor can use hers to finish off enemies or stagger them which gives you enough breathing room for preparing your next attacks, defense or whatever.

Spellcasting Sucks

Well, there has to be a negative. Note the lack of Laphicet and Magilou in this article when it comes to positives. I generally enjoy spellcasters from time to time (Vesperia’s Rita Mordio comes into mind) even if it’s spammy, but it just isn’t working as I hoped. I don’t have right-stick shortcuts for important spells (healing), I’m not seeing a good mix of martial artes and spells from the two of them (sad, because I love playing Lailah in Zestiria) and the pace that they go through are just far too off compared to the rest.

Maybe I should just keep playing Laphicet and Magilou. I admittedly didn’t spend enough time for them compared to the rest.

Dangerous Encounters, Dire Foes and Intense Difficulty

My final point lies in these: Berseria is very good at rewarding long fights, and the stakes go high as the difficulty ramps up as monsters spawn continuously as you keep up with a satisfying and addicting flow as you seek opportunities to hit hard with those Break Souls and regaining souls with debuffs.

The difficulty increase actually makes it all exciting. Enemies can take a beating, but that doesn’t stop you as you accumulate more souls which you’ll use to beat the heck out of them until they die.

They really nailed this part of the game right as the fights are long enough to be more exciting than the usual fight, but aren’t too long to be a chore to finish. You’re constantly pumped to slay them all as you juggle your SG, while standing strong as you accumulate enough BG to do powerful Mystic Artes as you need them or just keep breaking souls while keeping your guard up.

Long Impressions…

Well anyway, that’s that. This article ended up longer than I had hoped, but these are the biggest points that have sold me for gameplay in the Tales series. It’s really done well, and I haven’t even discussed on the other parts of the game that they managed to nail down right.