Tales of Vesperia was originally an Xbox 360 exclusive which was later re-released with added content on the PlayStation 3 in Japan. This version was previously never available in English. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is the PS3 version of the game that has been released in English with all of the new content including more playable characters, bonus dungeon, more voice acting and so on.
Tales of games rely on the chemistry between the cast more than the strength of its story. For the most part, the cast is great with plenty of character development and memorable interactions. The protagonist, Yuri is by far one of the most interesting main characters we have seen in games. You will be pleasantly surprised by his thought process and actions, especially when compared to a more standard or played out portrayal of a saviour. I was only annoyed by the two kids in the party, both with reference to their writing and voice acting.
Combat and party management are once again a big draw, and Tales of Vesperia offers an incredibly deep, customisable and engaging battle system. You can play as any of the nine characters, including coop with a friend. You must figure out how to perform combos with basic attacks and the various artes without letting your enemies catch a break.
The game’s beginning is slow and the first 5-6 hours can feel rough because you have access to limited attacks and can only chain three moves at a time. But as I played more, I kept unlocking more mechanics and skills that kept me hooked till the end.
These skills are attached to the weapon you equip. Some of them can be game changing, such as combo plus which adds one more strike to your basic attack, or landing step which lets you use backstep indefinitely. Other abilities are simple and passive such as 5 per cent more magic defence. While you are utilizing a weapon, you have access to the skills on it. Earn enough LP by defeating enemies and you can gain permanent access to that skill, allowing you to move to the next piece of equipment and unlock more skills. All characters have limited points to assign and you must carefully choose which skills to equip on your party members in accordance with your playing style.
The system goes way beyond basic attacks and skills. Every arte has a direction associated with it and every enemy has directional meters which are depleted when hit with a corresponding arte. When that metre is completely empty you can finish them off in one hit with a Fatal Strike. My other favourite mechanic is Over Limit, which allows you keep attacking enemies without stopping and utilise artes without worrying about combos or casting time. You can also use Burst and Mystic artes in this phase.
Managing your equipment, unlocking new skills and destroying your enemies with long combos makes the battle system of Vesperia endlessly engaging. It is extremely fluid and responsive, and thereby a lot of fun to play. It feels rewarding to find/buy new weapons that not only give you a stat boost but can grant you a access to a new gameplay mechanic.
All of my problems with Tales of Vesperia are due to it being a 10-year-old game. The lack of quick save, not being able to restart a boss fight after dying and the lack of mini-map when combined with fixed camera angles are all issues that not present in any of the recent games.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is an excellent RPG with a lot of focus on combat, skills and equipment management as well as character interaction. With a few exceptions, it doesn’t show its age due to the fluid gameplay and engaging battle system. Its depth is complimented by an exciting protagonist whose ideas and ideals differ from our everyday heroes.