The ‘Tales of’ series been a known quantity for decades at this point. You can always count on entries to regularly come out for just about every system you can think of. For me, the games that come of this franchise have always been pretty good, but very few I could call excellent. Recently, I played through a lot of the most recent release, Tales of Berseria, and came out quite impressed. It dodged one of the biggest flaws that I associate with ‘Tales of’, that is, having a mediocre fighting system that fails to excite me in any way. In a lot of ways, Berseria was heavily influenced by Tales of Vesperia, so it’s fun to see it make a comeback ten years after its original release.
Complete with all of the content that was included in a later version of Tales of Vesperia that came out for the PlayStation 3 as a Japan-only exclusive, like two new characters and a host of new and garish pieces of clothing for the cast, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition does the original game justice, and shows just well it aged since the last gaming gen. Coming out for every one of the modern consoles — including the Switch! — and PC, it’s one of the best looking anime JRPGs you can possibly play.
Tales of Vesperia, at first glance, looks like yet another anime aesthetic game with all the character stereotypes you can come to expect, from the confident male protagonist to the spunky princess-type that’s overly insecure, or the brazen, loud little kid and a thief who eventually shows he has a heart of gold — it has it all. It’s the fact that all of these come together and evolve as characters that made Vesperia such a beloved, and over the years since it’s come out, a cult game.
Its world is also one of the best out of the series, so it’s a good thing you get to thoroughly explore it throughout the game. It’s absolutely gorgeous, colorful, and most importantly, its hinged on a lot of backstory you can discover by partaking side activities and just talking to people as you get from town to town.
Vesperia also felt like a perfect storm when it came to its combat system, which took a cue from fighting games and simplified it so you could apply some of its core tenants and still have an easy time dealing tons of damage to your enemies. On the flip side, it’s nowhere near as responsive as a bona fide fighter, so you won’t find yourself timing your moves and defending like you would in Street Fighter, but there’s still enough depth to build great combos the further you get into the game, unlocking new moves and characters along the way. In that regard, the aforementioned Tales of Berseria is much more responsive, and consequently, rewarding. Still, for what it is, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition is still a blast to play — or better put, blastia, the substitute for magic in its world.
While I wouldn’t say that this Definitive Edition is perfect, it’s still the best way to play Tales of Vesperia. The visuals have been bumped up to modern resolutions, and everything just pops, even more so if you happen to be playing on a bigger HD display. It’s especially cool that this time Bandai Namco was able to include the option to change the audio track for dialogue. Vesperia happens to be one of the few Japanese games to include excellence English voice acting — headlined by Troy Baker, in one of his first videogame breakout roles that I can remember — it’s still great to get to switch from one to the other.
If you’re like me and enjoyed Tales of Vesperia during its first run, you’ll find a lot to like in this re-release, but it’s the newcomers that are probably going to get the most mileage of it. I was surprised to see just how much of the original release I remembered when playing through this, considering the huge number of games I’ve played and reviewed in the meantime. That shows that it made its mark in my memory, something that very, very few games have managed to over the years.
Considering that you could only play Tales of Vesperia before by grabbing an Xbox 360 and hoping it wouldn’t be red-ringed, and diving into a bargain bin and finding an old copy of it somewhere, it’s great to see it coming back and being available just about anywhere you can play new games in 2019. An argument could be made that new releases are preferable to re-threads, but in this case we could make an exception, right?