Game Review: Tales of Zestiria

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Lookit, another game review! And a post that’s not on a Wednesday! Am I ill? Insane? Avoiding work? It might be none or all of those! But I recently finished this game with my brother, and wanted to write a little something up about it.

Warning: may contain spoilers. Story related or otherwise major spoilers are not intended, but for the purposes of a thorough-ish review I include some story bits.

Synopsis:
ENGAGE YOUR PASSION AND FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD!
“A brand new adventure awaits in a fantasy world filled with magic, knights, dragons and mystery in Tales of Zestiria. Two nations fight for supremacy and the fate of the realm lies in the hands of Sorey, an inquisitive young adventurer who takes on the burden of becoming the Shepherd, the one the legends foretold would become the savior of all. Together with Lailah, the Lady of the Lake, who guards the Sacred Blade, and his best friend Mikleo, Sorey soon discovers a powerful force rising in the shadows.”

Platform(s):
Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PC (Steam)
I played on PS3, will eventually replay on PS4

Gameplay:
Your standard RPG style play. We’ve got real-time battles and a fairly open-world system, where the player is free to either plow through the story or take their time and diddle away at side quests. Battles are easy-breezy button mashing with physical attacks and artes (magic, if you will), and must be recharged so that it’s not just a frenzy of the player beating the snot outta enemies. Armatizing (connecting with other characters to amp up attacks) was a neat feature (as opposed to linking and such in previous titles) and had some pretty boss moves. My favorite to armatize with was Lailah, and then Mikleo. One’s a powerhouse of fiery death and the other is amazing for long-range. You’re given good options!

Story:
The story is your standard “good guys gotta save the world” scenario, and as the hero of this story, guess whose lap that falls into? However, it does take a few twists and turns along the way that keep it interesting, like learning the lore of the land and characters. And as you travel along you also have the option to listen to little side conversations between the main party. They can be anywhere from entertaining to informative. Sometimes I get bored with history on the characters, but this time I actually kind of enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed Rose as a companion to Sorey. She wasn’t your typical female lead–not all good, not all bad. And learning more about her and her origins was fun for me.

There was also quite a bit of political issues, which isn’t exactly new to this series, but it seemed very apparent to me in this one. I found myself caring about it. And, again, this kind of thing can easily bore me outta my skull, but I found it to be a nice break in between slashing hellions and punny jokes (curse you Lailah).

Graphics:
So pretty! I loved just looking at the sky (fuh real, the sky!!) or the grass swaying in the breeze as we traveled across the map. And I was playing on a PS3 using an AV cable versus HDMI. Not necessarily the best for quality. Landscapes were also gorgeous–I’d love to visit the world within Zestiria. Watching the characters run around in battle occasionally looked a bit silly (very obvious it was straight up copy/pasta frames–I usually don’t notice), but there were never any catches, glitches, etc. that I could find.

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Music:
The soundtrack for Zesty Tales is probably one of my favorites. I really liked the dungeons (the Trial Shrines were super nice), and even the regular battle music was toe-tappy and uplifting. It’s always a nice boost to the confidence when even the music is optimistic! Mini-bosses and regular bosses were just as enchanting. And out-of-battle/travel music was soothing, mysterious, and/or perfect for foreshadowing in all the right parts. The music was a great mood-setter!

Edit:: upon revisiting/listening to the soundtrack, it does get a bit repetitive and old. For the most part I enjoy it, though.

Qualms:
Paying to travel is a bit of a drain on the gald (in-game currency). But I’m also spoiled on older Tales titles where that isn’t a thing. It made quickly travelling from place-to-place a bit more taxing (haw-haw).

The background noise in some villages/towns was nearly deafening (Marlind in particular comes to mind). It’s very rare that I have to mess with the sound settings on a game–I can usually hear the effects, music, and voices all perfectly fine. But for some reason this one was awful. People talking in the background would drown out the main characters, even the lovely music, and sadly on the TV we played on it was a bit difficult to just read subtitles (plus, that’s not as fun).

You move a bit slow in this game! Maybe it’s just me, but it seems slower than I remember in others. Sure, you have your windstepping ability to spur you on faster, but that requires battling to beef up and keep it going. You spend time in order to make up time. Ugh. Does it really save ya?

Lots of cheesy jokes (curse you Lailah, redux). Tales games, I’ve learned, have a lot of this, so this was nothing new. You can only tell/retell so many hyucks. It got worse as the game progressed, but was bearable, at least.

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The seraphs being only visible to certain people is an awesome concept. And Sorey, being a certain person, can see them, talk to them, fight alongside them… What bugs me, however, is how few people actually say anything about him talking to air. Sorey being the Shepherd is the excuse (he was also raised by seraphs, so that helps), but a good chunk of characters either don’t know this at all or don’t learn it until later. Yet Sorey just gabs away to his invisible buddies and, more often than not, no one says a thing. Pretty sure if it were me I would say something like, “Dude, you crazy? You’re having a conversation with air.”

Average Rating:
9.03 / 10

My Rating:
8-8.5 / 10

Overall…
My qualms section is long, but I’m also wordy. I really enjoyed Tales of Zestiria, and I think playing it 2-player with my brother made the experience all the better. Armatizing was super fun, the music kept me going, and learning about the world and the people in it was intriguing and had me hooked. Plus, a whole ‘race’ of people that only a select few can see/hear? Awesome! Not to mention it makes Sorey seem like he’s talking to himself in front of people, and I find that equal parts hilarious and ridiculous. (Nah, more funny than anything.) I can definitely see myself playing this again in the future and finding little bits I might have missed the first run, and I look forward to it.

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