We were recently invited down by Bandai Namco to get a hands-on preview on an array of their latest titles, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition being one of them – a beloved action JRPG stemming from an incredible pedigree. The Tales games are renowned not only for their crisp, anime visuals and lightning paced, series defining combat, but also for the incredible way they build and weave worlds, characters, and yes, tales together. Narratives so thick with details it’s easy to get lost, players swallowed whole by in-game politics, religions, magic and science as they dip in and out of devilishly addictive, combo-laden bouts. These games aren’t just fun to play, they’re complex worlds to entrench yourself in, endorphins constantly rolling in courtesy of the toothsome combat.
For Tales fans in the know, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition is a really big deal. To bring everyone else up to speed, the original title was released worldwide exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2008, only to be ported a year later to the PS3 with a treasury of new content, which never saw a release outside of Japan. A whole ten years later, Vesperia is open to everyone, and what a game it is. A natural fit on the Switch, the title runs smoothly and looks, sounds and feels fantastic. In keeping with the series formula, you run and attack in a circular arena as you face-off against the likes of saccharine specters and ferocious, towering golems, special skills called Artes weaved into general attacks to create devastating combos. As you unlock more Artes to equip and use in battle, you’ll customise your party and craft a kind of devastating synergy that can only come from a Tales game, bouncing artes off each other and demolishing any gang of critters that come your way. Tales is as hands-on as it gets, battles instigated in the overworld by engaging with an enemy, no surprise battles to weigh you down as you know exactly what you’re in for at any given moment – it’s liberating.
But combat is just one half of what makes Tales, specifically Tales of Vesperia, so compelling. Vesperia brings together a motley crew of knights, mages and even a pipe smoking dog, all of which interact and mesh beautifully. Almost every line of dialogue is voiced and truly emotive, something that really adds colour to an already vibrant world. Dialogue is fully voiced in English but for the Definitive Edition, purists can also enjoy subbed Japanese audio. Over the course of the sprawling campaign, characters unfold and develop in some truly touching ways, typical of any Tales title, with optional voiced skits between the crew that deepen their relationship and pepper extra details throughout the narrative. From sardonic, quip-spitting Yuri, a disgraced knight who defends the weak to Raven, a sly, wry, suspicious geezer who’s handy with a bow. This time there’s a duo of newcomers to the party, being white knight Flynn, an old friend of Yuri’s, and lil’ pirate gal Patty, the latter joining early on and the former dipping in and out throughout the narrative. In this world powered by blastia, elemental energy sources that power everything from airships to monster negating barriers around cities, its a stolen water blastia that sets the events of the tale in motion, Yuri meeting Princess Estellise as he breaks out of the castle dungeons and into the world at large.
Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition sets out to embolden the best parts of the title, with extra bosses, narrative scenes, new skills and Mystic Artes alongside a load of previously unreleased costumes for your party, honouring prior title Tales of the Abyss and NAMCO classics like Klonoa and Mr. Driller, a really nice touch for fans. Tales of Vesperia oozes with content and from what we got to play, will be either an essential entry point into an incredible series or a welcome return for returning players.
Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition launches on Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam January 11th 2019.