Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review- A Fan Favorite Shows Its Age

Posted February 11, 2019 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios Inc.

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Release date: January 11, 2019

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One (reviewed)

When released in 2008, Tales of Vesperia was warmly embraced by fans on the Xbox 360. Now, in its 10th anniversary, the game has been released on current gen consoles and PC in a definitive edition that includes HD graphics, new characters, expanded story, and new music tracks. So, how does this fan favorite hold up compared to newer JRPGs and entries into the Tales franchise?

Sadly, not too well, though fans of the old version may still find plenty to enjoy with this shiny new edition.

The game focuses on the characters of Yuri Lowell and Estelle, two citizens from two different ends of the capital city of Zaphias. Yuri comes from the lower quarter, while Estelle hails from the castle and is a member of the royal line. The two meet when Yuri breaks out of the castle’s jail, and go off on an adventure that naturally deals with the fate of the world.

Along the way, they meet an assortment of characters, many of whom have their own agendas. It all leads to a rather underwhelming finale, though the story does touch upon some interesting concepts along the way such as vigilantism and impact on the environment. The story is decently done, but is sadly marred by often inane dialogue. Pacing is further hampered by pointless conversations, backtracking, and often meaningless skits that don’t want to go away until you play them. Some of this would be more tolerable if the voice acting was excellent. Sadly, though, it isn’t. It’s not all terrible, but it’s not good enough to lift up the poorly written dialogue.

So, bad dialogue can bring a game down, but great gameplay can override that. So does Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition shine here? Sadly, not really. While there is plenty to explore, there are also a lot of invisible walls, and often moving through some towns (but not all) seems to limit you to a 2D plane, rather than a 3D one. The lore you uncover can be interesting (especially the use of Blastia, a material that powers the world and enables you in combat), but it also doesn’t feel like you miss much if you don’t go in search of it.

Combat is where the series usually set itself apart, but here in Vesperia it feels dated, especially when compared to more recent entries like Tales of Xillia or Tales of Berseria. Combat often feels button mashy, limiting you to one button unless your character has enough TP. Then you can unleash your Artes, which can be mapped to directions on both analog sticks. Unfortunately, this acts inconsistently, making it somewhat clumsy to pull off more intricate attacks. It’s also easy to get locked into an animation and end up facing away from the enemy. Hitting your Over Limit can trigger a burst attack, but again it can be clumsy to use (you need to press down on the center of the D-pad when your meter fills).

Also, it seems like Yuri will often only take three swings at an enemy before taking a pause. He’s also inconsistent with movement- sometimes he won’t run to an enemy, just casually walk, regardless of how you’re pressing on the left stick for movement. Your AI companions do perform fairly competently (you can set them on how you wish them to fight, or even have friends play them in local co-op), but even on conservative settings they can burn through your healing gels in short order. This can be an issue, especially during some cheap, late game bosses.

Part of this is due to the fact that the game only allows you to carry fifteen of any given item (many RPGs tend to cap you around 99 healing items). While this does allow for some strategic gameplay and forces you to think before using an item, it’s also very limiting, and put you on a disadvantage, as enemies don’t seem to be under the same constraints. I don’t mind being limited, just make it fair, and Tales of Vesperia doesn’t always do that, especially with one late game boss in particular that constantly spams his most powerful attack and constantly heals himself. It makes for more frustration than fun, and feels more cheap rather than being challenging.

Save point placement can also be an issue in spots, as you need to find one in the dungeon/town you’re currently in (you can save almost anywhere on the world map, though even there the game at times limits you). Poor placement usually led to replaying long stretches of the game, something more found in 2008 than in 2019. Replaying wouldn’t be so bad if it was fun, but again, it’s not often so. Being unable to always skip event scenes (some can be skipped, while others you need to speed through dialogue bubbles rather than listen to the same inane chatter again) doesn’t help either.

In all, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition really shows its age when compared to more modern entries into the series. To be sure, there will be some (maybe more) who will enjoy this far more than I did. If you loved the game in 2008, there’s a good chance you might love this version, which filters in content previously only released in Japan. But for me, it just didn’t hold up well. Inconsistent characters and poor dialogue were the biggest detractors for me, despite the game offering glimmers of a decent overall story with some pretty heady themes. Lackluster combat and a weak ending don’t help much either. For old fans, this may be an easy purchase to make. For newcomers, while this version offers you a lot of content, it may not match up, so trying it on a discount or rental may be your best bet. In 2008, fans may have hailed Tales of Vesperia as the best of the series, but in 2019, age has caught up to this old friend.

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus