Review: Tales of Vesperia

As well as books and tat I’m going to start talking about and reviewing games and other things that I like.  But only that I like.  If you think I’m going to mention games I don’t like, then you’d be very much mistaken.  That’s just not gonna happen.  Well, unless something angers me enough to want to rant about it, but to be honest I’m pretty laid back about these things so it doesn’t happen very often.

So, Tales of Vesperia was the first game in the Tales Of series that I played, purchasing it through the xbox store pretty much just on a whim.  Star Ocean The Last Hope was the first JRPG I’d played in a while back then, but I liked it enough that I decided to give some others a go.

Tales games are usually epic adventures spanning an entire world, or two.  Although each game is a different story on a different world, not really related at all to one and other.  Although there are some commonalities:

It’s usually a fantasy world, although with some technology.  And yes, the main characters love interest is usually a healer (although there are some exceptions, like in Xillia you can choose between a male or a female protagonist and they’re both fighters, and I believe the next title has a female protagonist).  There’s usually at least one child character who joins your party as well, although obviously posessing some extraordinary ability that makes it possible for them to be adventurers.  And the final boss is usually some monstrosity you have to fight three times and keeps spamming the same three moves over and over.

With Tales of Vesperia, there are some issues I have with it, like some of the humour isn’t really to my tastes.  In every game there seems to be an obligatory scene that takes place at a spa or hot spring, and a scene will occur in which pervy male party member attempts to spy on the females but gets caught.  Or doesn’t, but the women wrongly assume the innocent male protagonist was trying to spy on them.  It’s very silly.  And to really finish up everything in the game and defeat all the dungeons and bosses requires lots and lots of grinding which gets very. very tedious.  I guess that’s probably true of most JRPGs, and at least the battles in Tales games aren’t turn based so you can defeat waves of low level enemies in a matter of seconds.  Otherwise though, I enjoyed the game overall, probably more than I did Star Ocean, and played most of them since.

Probably the thing that hooked me was that the first companion in the game is a dog, and I am a bit of a dog person.  Repede is his name.  He’s purple, and he always has a pipe in his mouth.  However, for the most part you’re controlling a guy named Yuri who lives in a world where everything is powered by things called ‘blastia’.  The adventure starts immediately when the blastia that supplies water to the poor part of the city Yuri lives in is stolen and he takes off after the thief.  He gets arrested and thrown in jail, but when he escapes runs into a girl named ‘Estellise Sidos Heurassein’… Estelle.  She’s a princess, which is why she has such a ridiculous name.  Although we don’t find out she’s a princess until later.  When you meet her, she’s looking for a knight named Flynn, who Yuri happens to know as well and so escapes with out of the city.  Thus the adventure begins.

On the way you meet Karol, a hammer wielding twelve year old boy who wants to be a guildmaster.  Rita, my favorite character, who is a fifteen year old genius mage (and incidentally can acquire some spells that make grinding and the arena a breeze… she’s the most ridiculously overpowered party member in any of these games).  Raven, the slightly dodgy and pervy older man which seems to be another staple in these games (and by older, I mean in his thirties – most of the other characters are in their teens).  And Judith, who is the one not nearly well armored enough for the lifestyle she’s choosen.  Well, she is actually fully covered when you first encounter her, but otherwise in the spa scene you don’t see any more than usual with her.  Oh, but it reminds me that another I do like about these games is that you can unlock lots of alternate costumes for your characters, so you can have them all fighting in swimsuits if you want, or find something more or even less appropriate.

Apparently, this game’s characteristic genre name is ‘Enforcing One’s “Justice” RPG‘, which sounds appropriate I guess.  Yuri does a couple of questionable things in the name of justice, and the final boss likewise seems to be trying to enforce his own form of justice on the world that means killing the entire human race.

But the main plot of this game I think is really the environment.  You see, the blastia that this world has become reliant on it turns out are actually damaging the environment, and also happen to have attracted the attention of a huge freaking space monster that wants to feed off the ‘aer’ that powers the blastia, and will convert every thing to aer as well so it can them too.  Ultimately, Rita determines that aer can be turned into a much safer alternative called mana, by convering all the blastia cores into spirits.  However, it would of course mean all the things powered by these blastia, which protect cities from monsters and enhance abilities, and power all sorts of other technology, will no longer work.  You end up gathering all the world leaders to ask permission to do it even though there will be problems in the short term.  But, given that there’s an immediate threat of a giant space monster floating in the sky they all agree. I believe this whole story is supposed to parallel the real world’s reliance on fossil fuels and the need to switch to alternatives before we do irreparable damage to the environment.

So in conclusion, out of all the Tales games I’ve played so far I think this one probably has the best story.  And most of the characters, even quite minor ones like Nan (who Karol has a little bit of a crush on) or Gauche and Droite, are mostly interesting and likeable.  So yeah, this is a JRPG I would recommend even to people who don’t normally play them.

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