When I mentioned to Jennifer in passing that I missed Gamervescent [ed. note: prompting Jenn to suddenly decide “Hey let’s do Gamervescent again for the holiday season!] I was absolutely sincere, but I also didn’t take into consideration that I only played one game in all of 2017, besides solo rounds of You Don’t Know Jack (The Ride edition) and attempting Mass Effect: Andromeda and not liking it (I’ll need to retry this again sometime). I haven’t had energy to do much since restarting therapy—I’ve abandoned my wigs, my makeup collection grows and stays relatively untouched—but I did take three weeks out of my moping to play Tales of Berseria. The Tales Series has always been my favorite and Berseria looked exciting and promising with a story surrounding a female protagonist.
Berseria starts out like all Tales games: filled with hope and whimsy, meeting your main character and getting an introduction into their life. Velvet lives a quiet existence with her sick brother Laphi and their dead sister’s fiancee. They have humble beginnings and love each other very much. Velvet spends her time doting over her family and doing her damned best to please everyone around her. I started the game thinking it was beautiful visually, as most Tales games are, wondering what they had in mind for this sweet innocent girl, and also somewhat annoyed they had pigeonholed her into a cooking, cleaning, caring stereotype. You know, until Arthur, her dead sister’s lover, decides to murder her baby brother Laphicet before her eyes, for the good of the people.
…changing the tone of this Tales game to a story of REVENGE. THAT’S RIGHT IT’S A REVENGE TALE AND IT IS FUCKING AWESOME. Immediately after the death of her beloved brother Velvet is filled with such violence and rage she is changed into a daemon, and not just any type of daemon, a Therion (which is a type of daemon that eats other daemons). Her thoughts are consumed with wanting to destroy Arthur and to feed. For years she is kept caged and fed daemons in a prison locked away, until one day she is freed and escapes this caged hell.
The story follows the Tales formula of gaining friendships and party members, set on a mission to change the world, only this time you are on the opposite side, and honestly it feels like the right side. Though you are technically the “villain” not everything is as black and white as good/evil. Both Arthur and Velvet are fighting for what they believe in and Velvet works through her need to fulfill her rage and begins to fight for what she believes is best for the people. It is done reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallly well.
Another thing that is really cool about Berseria is that it is linked to Zestiria: Velvet and her crew’s journey is the start of everything that happens 500 years later in Sorey’s world as the Shepherd. So, I would recommend playing them opposite from the order in which they were released, with Berseria first and Zestiria as the follow-up. They fit hand in hand. Without Berseria, the story of Zestiria, though okay in in its own right, falls a little flat, and it’s interesting to see how both sides of this battle of “good” vs. “evil” pans out. OH, AND CHARACTERS FROM BERSERIA ARE MENTIONED OR SHOW UP IN ZESTIRIA BECAUSE SOME ARE MAGICAL AND CAN LIVE HUNDREDS OF YEARS AND THAT’S SUPER COOL AND ONE OF MY FAVORITE TALES CHARACTER IS IN BOTH OF THEM.
So all and all I was pleased with the Tales series long-overdue lady protagonist. For the only game I was able to muster up getting into during the hellscape of 2017, Berseria was the right choice. It felt nice to rip apart the corrupt churches and governments with a more violent approach.