Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will review a game I recently finished playing – Tales of Zestiria! Like Tales of Xillia 2, this game is part of the Tales series, which I adore. Also, for reference, I played on Steam using a controller. I’ll be covering the premise of the story but, as usual, I’ll avoid significant spoilers. That said, let’s get right into it!
The story begins with two friends, Sorey and Mikleo, engaging in their usual hobby – the exploration of ruins. Sorey is a human, but Mikleo, along with the inhabitants of Elysia, the town where the two grew up, are seraphim, beings much like humans, but who wield elemental powers and are invisible and inaudible to most humans. Sorey, having grown up with them, is an exception.
During their exploration, the two boys discover something most unexpected – an unconscious girl. They rescue her and allow her some rest, but their adoptive grandfather, the chief of Elysia, says she cannot stay for long. So, once she’s healed up, (and after revealing she’s a princess; there will be a few cliches in the premise of this story) the girl, Alisha, departs – and a hellion (creatures corrupted by malevolence) attacks one of the citizens of Elysia. After defeating him, he escapes, and Sorey and Mikleo learn his true mark was Alisha. Concerned, they leave in secret to warn her.
That leads them to the city of Ladylake, capital of the Kingdom of Hyland, where an event is going on wherein people try to pull a blade from a pedestal (told ya) and the one who succeeds is named Shepherd. The Shepherd’s role is to protect humanity, cleanse malevolence (a corrupting substance that can turn humans, animals, and seraphim alike into monsters) and eventually face the Lord of Calamity, who generates overwhelming malevolence. Naturally, Sorey succeeds at extracting the sword and becomes Shepherd. A seraphim named Lailah, who has been watching the sword for some time, makes a pact with him as Prime Lord and informs him of his duties – and that he musn’t let them consume him. But Sorey is a kind-hearted boy who is always looking out for others, so that’s a bit difficult for him. Regardless, that is the beginning of his journey, and he picks up several companions along the way!
Like most Tales games, Zestiria does a good job of developing its major characters, and expands upon them through small, mostly-optional interactions called skits, where they discuss anything from major plot points to completely trifling matters, like the meals they eat when they rest at the inn. Speaking of the plot, like most Tales games, Zestiria has a strong one with several twists, though in my opinion, it doesn’t quite hold up to Tales of Symphonia. (One of my favorite games ever.) Even so, both the story and the characters made me want to see more and more. I especially liked Mikleo and Edna.
The combat system is also similar to other Tales games, where you fight enemies in open areas, controlling one character at a time with a focus on combos. Zestiria’s iconic combat feature is armatization, which allows a human and a seraphim character to fuse and unfuse during combat; when fused, they become especially powerful, with a unique moveset. Armatization made for quite fluid and interesting gameplay!
Another of Zestiria’s features that I was less fond of was the use of special traits to boost your equipment. As an idea, that’s sound, but the 5 x 10 grid of traits you had to work with to line up traits for bonuses seemed excessively large and cumbersome, and it made gear customization a bit of a hassle. In my opinion, it’s a symptom of the mechanics bloating that has characterized some of the more recent Tales games. Still, even when you don’t worry about lining up or stacking traits, you can hold your own on lower difficulty levels. (Like most Tales games, difficulty is flexible and can be changed frequently throughout your run.)
Zestiria’s music was strong, and its visuals were quite pleasing. Overall, though I do have a few small gripes with the game, it was still an overwhelmingly enjoyable one to play through. Therefore, I rate Tales of Zestiria 4.7/5.
Have you played any Tales games before? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, what are your favorite RPGs? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend! Buh-bye!