Tales of Zestiria – First Play

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Tales of video-games and what better way to celebrate than with the global release of a new entry. Yes, that is correct. For the first time ever, a Tales of video-game will not be coming out at least a year or two after Japanese gamers have played it.

As with previous entries, Tales of Zestiria, tells the story of a young man called Sorey who takes on the role of Shepherd – someone tasked with bringing peace to the land of Glenwood. In this Tales of entry, the main character is always followed by one of the characters on the field.

Like with everything, one of the best new features in this game is one that probably didn’t require much thought. It only takes a few seconds to get into a battle and get on with the fighting. This is an improvement when compared to other Japanese role playing games, where characters often feel the need to make a grand entrance before the fighting commences.

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Arte abilities that characters use in Tales of video-games now make use of a Blast gauge. This gauge has other uses when fighting as well. It seemed to do a great job of making the combat feel fast paced. It’s even easier than ever to create combos with artes and physical attacks. This certainly showed potential for making excellent use of the combat system found in modern Tales of video-games.

This Tales of entry seems like it’s set in a Medieval world given the way that characterss dress and the use of architecture from this era, such as castles and towns protected by walls. In a way, it seems to share a few similiarities with the world of Tales of Graces, given that it also has a Medieval like setting.

Yet visually, it felt a lot more closer to Symphonia in the manner that character physical features were less realistic. In fact, even the combat is fast paced and the emphasis on combos is also an idea used by Symphonia.

A small Gald currency fee is introduced in this title for those who wish to teleport/travel between locations. Whilst it might prove tricky when running low on funds, it might also mean that players are a bit more sensible about making use of such a useful resource.

It’s quite nice to see that both dungeons and town are more heavily populated with both characters and items. Also, the way environments are designed make exploring better since some of the locations explored contain more than flat lands to walk around.

It seemed like cooking is now limited to inns and that also might apply to eating meals. Hopefully it means that characters can cook even more sophisticated dishes.

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As usual, Zestiria provides a cast of characters that is both memorable and likeable. It’s not surprising given that the Tales of team has rarely failed to meet its high standards of creating characters that players can emphasise with. In this case, the group seems more mature than in previous titles. Which seems fitting given their task of ridding the world from evil monsters.

The world of Glenwood feels huge and this is only after exploring it for less than an hour. It’s impressive to just sit back and take in the views that Zestiria offers. It certainly has the sort of vibrant environments that made it so appealing to explore the world of Tales of Xillia.

Given the serious nature of the story, it also meant that the music heard seemed less cheery than the usual Tales of title.

If the rest of Zestiria is like this then it is definitely Tales of back in form after the release of the not as memorable Tales of Xillia 2. After all, it’s a good sign that it felt like the sort of title that could have easily been played for many more hours. If that’s the case, then fans could be in for a 20th anniversary treat later this year when Tales of Zestiria releases exclusively on the PlayStation 3.