Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review (PC)

This game has to be one of the worst disappointments I’ve ever had the displeasure of playing. I suppose I fell for the hype train for this game’s release, but only found an unmemorable and awful failure of a story and convoluted gameplay. Tales of Vesperia’s cast is among the most forgettable of them all. Nobody but Karol has any real character development and there’s only one really good twist in the entire story and it’s wasted with no impact. I tried forcing myself to complete this game, but I just can’t stand it anymore. This game is absolutely horrible and it’s positive qualities don’t make-up for its colossal failure in one very important aspect.

Music: The music is great and a pleasure to listen to. It fits the mood and setting spectacularly for the most part.

Gameplay: The gameplay feels like a more convoluted version of Tales of the Abyss’s gameplay, but I think that’s simply my own personal preference. The gameplay is fun, fast, and exciting. There are no drops in quality or any technical issues from my experience, and you do have to think over how to beat challenging enemies like optional bosses on the field or the secret mission system that offers bonuses for preventing bosses from regaining a particular advantage against you throughout boss battles. Overall, the gameplay is a very enjoyable experience and I personally really liked using Yuri Lowell’s gameplay style.

Characters: The characters are all realistic, believable, and really fun to listen to for the most part. Seeing them engage with each other is fun, but as the story slowly falls apart, it’s clear that these otherwise great cast of characters is absolutely wasted on this terrible story. I liked everyone but Rita, who felt more like a one-dimensional character compared to the more complex, upbeat, and compelling characters who have more interesting reasons for what they’re doing. However, apart from Karol, none of them are really developed and the game itself even points out the main character, Yuri Lowell, hasn’t changed at all throughout the journey. Yuri does come close to being a gary stu, but only because of how the entire plot falls in the party’s lap out of an ongoing convenience of there always being danger that needs Yuri’s assistance to beat. The characters motivations and decisions aren’t adequately developed or challenged apart from Karol. It’s a really interesting and likable cast that’s essentially wasted on a terrible plot.

One annoyance though, the new voice actor for Yuri Lowell is totally noticeable and sounds like some idiotic stereotype of a surfer throughout the game, which ruins the enjoyment of listening to him in the English version. People complaining about the voice actor sadly weren’t exaggerating as I had initially believed. It’s awful, but you do get the Japanese audio option. It’s still disappointing though and does detract from the overall game.

Plot: Fans of Vesperia admit the plot is “generic” — but that’s only putting it in the nicest of terms. The fact is this game’s plot doesn’t really exist. It’s a set of events that have no coherence when you try to fit all the pieces together. Around 20 hours of this 50 hour plot is honestly just searching for an answer to Estelle’s question, having the party separate in a town, talking to the party members, Yuri asks Estelle what she wants to do, and then the party setting off for the next dungeon with something totally fucking stupid preventing some character from answering Estelle’s question. That’s 20 hours of the game as the only motivation and it’s a completely stupid one. Ostensibly, Yuri and Karol are forming a guild and doing a job for Estelle, and despite Judith’s suggestion its really following Estelle’s whims…. that’s what the entire game essentially becomes anyway. The plot is non-existent trash. Estelle’s questions could have been answered in one sentence. 20 hours for a one sentence explanation that you can figure out through basic critical thinking skills.

After this godawful clusterfuck of an adventure, some random NPC becomes the villain and Yuri randomly concludes that he’s “behind everything!” — whatever that means. The main villain doesn’t even state his goal, Yuri randomly comes up with an epiphany about what it is. This is honestly the dumbest and most poorly written storytelling I’ve seen since Chrono Cross.

This game’s plot is among the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a Tales game and that is saying something as  I thought Tales of Graces F was the worst. Vesperia is only a better by a miniscule amount. If anyone would like to argue it is a ten-year old game as a flippant excuse, that just makes it worse. Its predecessors Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Symphonia were phenomenally written stories with some of the best plots ever written in all of video gaming. But of course, the writer of those stories wasn’t doing Vesperia’s plot and instead Vesperia seems to have four writers who clearly wanted different things, so this plot is a muddled fuck-up of an excuse compared to those stories.

Apologies in advance, but the flaws outstrip the positives:

Overall Rating: 4/10.

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