Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition is a remake of the tenth entry in the cult classic JRPG “Tales Of” series. The original version of this game was released in 2008 for the Xbox 360 and was developed by the Namco Tales Studio, which would dissolve in 2012 and join the larger team at Bandai Namco Studios. This one has widely been considered to be one of the highlights of the series, so I was looking forward to getting immersed with this updated version on the Switch.
Tales of Vesperia follows a young man named Yuri Lowell. Yuri goes on a quest to help the people of the lower quester of the imperial capital, where he also resides, after they have found they’ve been swindled by a nobleman that had claimed to have fixed an issue they paid him to solve. On his way he runs into many other characters that join his party, such as: a noble woman, his dog companion, and a young hunter in training, with many others joining as you progress the story. Although slow to find its footing, overall I found the story to be rather good. The characters add a lot to the experience and as the party filled out, so did the plot. I think what really makes this game’s story compelling isn’t necessarily the overarching narrative, but the small interactions and dynamics of those you meet along the way. Your party gains some very colorful characters that give a strong breath of life to the game.
Tales of Vesperia’s gameplay has a strong mix of classic JRPG mechanics and familiar scenarios to any fan of this genre. As is typical, you’ll begin your journey with one quest in mind, and soon the plot will twist or change and you’ll be solving yet another set of problems. You’ll be traversing the world quite a bit in this game so don’t be surprised to find yourself stuck in towns talking to various NPCs for long stints of time. There are many shops you can enter and plenty of buildings to explore. It starts off a bit slow at the beginning, but eventually you’ll make it outside of the beginning town and can explore the overworld. You will be placed on a map with enemy encounters showing up across the open landscape as you make your way to the next point of interest. While the towns are fun to explore and have all sorts of nooks and crannies to discover, the overworld was sort of barren and boring, which is an unfortunate miss.
Now let’s get to the combat. JRPGs can live or die by their combat systems, and in all honesty I’m not sure how to feel about this one. Tales of Vesperia employs what it calls the Evolved Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System, which is a take on the “Tales Of” staple Linear Motion Battle System, also referred to as LMBS. What this combat system entails is an open and circular battlefield where you and your squad spawns, with you on one side and the enemy combatants on the other. Once the fight starts Yuri will be targeting one of the enemies. He will be locked in a linear attack path where you can move forward or backwards from the enemy. If you would like to move freely to position yourself around the battlefield you will need to hold down whatever button you mapped to free movement.
What I didn’t like with this was that you couldn’t do any effective attacking while free roaming the battlefield. You can only attack in the linear mode. It made fights very annoying when there are more than 2 enemies at once. When I began the game, this combat system seemed to be promising. This was my first “Tales Of” game, and with it, this was my first taste of LMBS. I began to think of how this would play out as I progressed, like would boss battle feel exciting like this? What about fights with large groups of enemies? These thoughts kept going through my head as I fought my way through groups of two or three enemies at a time, up until the first boss fight and your first party member joining. Up until then fighting had been fun and generally enjoyable, with some slight difficulty. I didn’t think it was amazing, but if this was the game, you can sign me up. But once I got that first party member my fun really started to slow and I began to just feel like the battles became a simple “mash attack and win” exercise. Boss fights continued to hold a lot of the engaging and fun combat, but many of the base random encounters never quite pulled me back in.
One thing that was a consistent stressor in this game was the lack of save points. I would easily go an hour before I would see a save point sometimes, and when you are a couple levels higher and have progressed so much and die, you really lose a good bit of interest in continuing. I think if they doubled the amount of save points or gave a small way of saving independent from the already established points this problem could have been resolved very easily. It’s obviously a problem that has been solved with so many other games allowing you to save anywhere you like that it sticks out like a sore thumb here. This is especially compounded if you’re playing on the go in handheld mode. Sure you can put the Switch to sleep at any time, but what if you wanted to suddenly play a different game? You had better find a save point first!
Graphically this game is OK. Since it is a port of an 11-year-old game I can give it a bit of leeway. There are a lot of bland textures, characters don’t always look the best, and occasionally you will see some weird pixelization on some things. The world is quite large, so to put a lot of work into all of the visuals would take an immense amount of time and resources, so it’s sort of understandable. This isn’t bad looking game per-se, just average at best.
One thing that I must give props to this game is the superb voice acting. Nearly all lines of dialog are voiced, and very well at that. This isn’t too surprising with industry veterans like Troy Baker, Grant George, and Eden Riegel at the helm of a couple of the most important characters. There were so many times that I felt the voice acting made scenes have a much stronger impact than if they had gone with basic text alone. It should be noted though that the voice acting really only pertains to story related plot, as most side content is still predominantly just text-based.
Since this is a definitive edition, we can assume that there are some new things added to the game that we didn’t have before, right? And that we do! There are a lot of new story-related scenes added, some new skills added, new dungeons to explore, and even a couple new party members. Those that played the game before should find enough incentive here to double dip, especially if they want to play the game on the go.
Overall, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition is a good game. The world is very vibrant with plenty of lore and politics to make it feel alive. The characters of this game are memorable and make even grindy sessions feel like you are doing something worthwhile. The combat is hit or miss though, and at times fights would be fun and engaging, while other times I’d just be button mashing until I saw the victory screen. The strongest aspect of this game is its dialog and voice work. So many times JRPGs have stilted dialog or phoned-in voice-overs, but here everything sounds great! If you’re looking for an entertaining story with some good world building, this could be the right game for you – but the battle system leaves much to be desired.
Tales Of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review
- Graphics - 6.5/106.5/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 6/106/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Tales of Vesperia is a good JRPG that will appeal very much to fans of the genre. It has a captivating story, great voice acting, and a very cute and colorful cast. A lackluster overworld and awkward combat system keeps it from being a truly great title.
Austin Eastwood has been a gamer since childhood starting during the Playstation 2 era. He enjoys everything gaming, from JRPGs to competitive shooters. He also boasts his perfect competitive record in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, in which he won his first game against a friend and never played the game again.