The Tales franchise has had quite the history over multiple generations of consoles before finally mostly settling in on the PS3 that received multiple entries including some that never made it outside Japan. The most recent entry was released on both PS4 and PC in the form of Tales of Berseria that is a fantastic JRPG. Over the last few years, Bandai Namco Entertainment has been doing great stuff for many of their franchises but fans have never given up on the hope that the elusive Xbox 360 Exclusive Tales entry sees a release on newer platforms or that the Japan only PlayStation 3 version sees a localisation. At E3, they revealed Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition for all current platforms and this review will be focussing on the Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch versions of the game. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is based on the PS3 version which has a lot more content than the 360 original.
Vesperia for current systems arrives a decade after the original bringing more voice acting, more party members, more skits, and basically more of everything that fans wanted in the original alongside the ability to play with either Japanese or English voice acting.
If you’ve never played a recent Tales game, they are basically JRPGs with action combat that takes place in a closed area. The draw of the games is usually in the great cast of characters and the interactions between the cast through the story and with skits that are optional interactions that occur during gameplay. While you will likely spend a ton of time in dungeons and in combat, exploration is quick and combat encounters end pretty fast unless it is a boss fight.
Vesperia is set in a world that uses Blastia to protect people in various locations from monsters. You play as Yuri Lowell who is a former soldier and end up in jail right in the beginning of the game. You soon escape and meet up with Estellise on your mission to recover your neighborhood’s Blastia core. While there is a lot of exploration in Vesperia, it is quite linear when it comes to the actual story and that is a good thing because unlike many JRPGs that have a ton of padding, Vesperia’s story and pacing only really suffers in the opening. These moments involve a few tutorials and have some poorly thought out dungeon design. After the initial barrier (gameplay wise) is broken, Tales of Vesperia comes into its own and the cast of characters is fantastic. Yuri is also a great protagonist with very well written dialogue which feels very natural. Rita and Raven are definitely standout characters here alongside Yuri.
Combat is fairly simple even though it feels involved at first. You have two kinds of main attacks you can chain together to form combos. The action combat takes place with free movement in a closed area and all party members and enemies can attack at the same time. The AI was fairly good in my experience but chaining different attacks together (and getting rumble feedback) never got old. The first battle theme could have been better given how often you hear it. Characters unlock more skills as they progress in battles and you can set which skills can be active for your AI companions from the menu. This is super useful in some fights where using a water skill could potentially heal a boss.
Vesperia was always a nice looking game on the 360 and it looks excellent on the Xbox One X. The aesthetic has aged very well. There are some instances of low resolution textures on both consoles. On Xbox One X, there are very few instances of minor stutter that occur in some areas in towns. Combat is great and the game runs very well overall. On the Switch however, things aren’t as great. Originally thought to target 1080p 30fps outside battles with 60fps during battles docked (and 720p in handheld for both), Vesperia plays out a bit differently. There are many non battle areas where it targets and even hits a consistent 60fps. Other areas see it drop below 30fps with stutter in the form of frame pacing. In portable mode, Vesperia doesn’t look as sharp as it should look and still has the same if not more erratic performance. If you want to play this on a portable, you have no other option. If you are going to play this docked, you should get it on PS4 Pro or Xbox One X over the Switch version. Hopefully the Switch version is patched to make it a more pleasant experience.
When it comes to music and voice acting, Tales games usually are above the rest of the JRPGs because Bandai Namco Entertainment usually nails it when it comes to who they get casted and the direction for voice acting. Tales of Berseria has some of the best English voice acting for a Japanese game ever. The great thing about playing Vesperia now as a new release has been hearing voices I know from many other JRPGs. For the fans who prefer playing with Japanese voices, those are an option as well and the opening song language changes with this as well which is a nice touch. While I didn’t much care for the first battle theme, the music overall is very well done and great both inside and outside the game.
The only big flaw in this “Definitive Edition” is how it should have had a bit more care put into it. Vesperia is one of the most wished for re releases and to see quite a few loading screens based on the old design is disappointing. They aren’t long but they are annoying. The opening moments of the game also might turn off some players but sticking through the first few hours is more than worth it.
The great thing about Vesperia is that even with the issues, it is a damn fine JRPG with a brilliant cast of characters. Tales of Vesperia was one of the Xbox 360 exclusives that happened to be a JRPG and it led to many fans of Japanese games picking up the console but it didn’t get the sales it deserved at the time. Hopefully the game being available on all current systems sees it finally get the recognition and success it deserves.