Game Title: Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition
Company: Namco Bandai
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.75 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 12.8 GB

The Tales Of franchise is something I was introduced to and really got into on the PlayStation Portable. Radiant Mythology was a random grab at GameStop that got me into the franchise as a whole, with games, movies, and anime adaptations.

Sadly, though, I’ve rarely had a chance to actually cover the franchise over here at Reviews 2 Go. There aren’t any PSP Tales games on the PlayStation Store and only one of the two PS Vita remakes came to the West. That was Tales of Hearts R, which is special in its own right, as it was my very first Video Review on YouTube.

Thanks to the franchise bringing back a long-lost Xbox-exclusive title from 10 years ago, I am here and ready to finally cover the series again! Here is my review for Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

tales 2 - story

ToV takes place in a world where a magical substance called Aer is used to power machines called Blastia. Blastia are excavated from ruins and used to allow people to use magic along with making powerful barriers around settlements to protect everyone from invading monsters.

The story centers around Yuri Lowell, a resident of a low-income community whose Blastia had its core stolen, cutting off the community’s water supply. After he goes after the thief and becomes a criminal, himself, he flees the capital on a journey to evade capture by the Imperial Knights as well as to retrieve his home’s Blastia Core.

The plot of Vesperia overall is interesting due to its colorful cast and willingness to go places a lot of RPGs really don’t go. Yuri does things in this game’s story that I’ve never seen a JRPG Protag do. Despite all of its good parts, it also has some bad points as well. In particular are a lot of scenes in the 2nd Act where the party is a Guild and almost every single decision they make starts unnecessary “Well, we want to do this. But what are our guild rules on this? Should we really do this when this is already going on?”

The first couple times this happened, it was a little entertaining, but when it kept happening, it really just felt like unnecessary, awkward padding for each event which should’ve just been a typical “Hey this big thing is happening, so let’s go take care of it” event like most console-style RPGs.

Gameplay

tales 3 - gameplay

Vesperia is a console-style Action RPG with some puzzle elements thrown into the mix. Like most console-style JRPGs, you have a large overworld map you explore and the story pushes you forward to new towns, dungeons, and of course, boss fights.

Definitive Edition is a remake, which is based on the Japan-Only PS3 version of Vesperia. It doesn’t have much -new- content, but it does have all the content PS3 version had that the Xbox 360 version didn’t. This includes redone story scenes, new dungeons and skits, and a ton of new story scenes and quests involving the party member Patty that was only referred to and never actually appeared in the original game.

Progression in the game is like most overworld-based RPGs. You are constantly being led to new places on the overworld map, where new story scenes take place, along with random encounters and boss fights. Much moreso than some other RPGs, it also has the more retro progression style of eventually gaining access to ships and an airship to expand your range of travel past the main continents.

tales 5 - skits

The two main things about all Tales games I like are the Skits and Combat System. As you go across the story and sometimes when you just go across the world map with certain party combinations, you get notifications for small story events about current events or just character backgrounds. This gives you almost endless story scenes, even when you’re traveling and often ends up being very funny and comedic in nature. I love listening to all the idle banter conversations that happen between characters.

Then we have the combat system. The Tales combat systems have always been interesting to me as they kind of meld 3D and 2D combat together. Your party spawns in a 3D Arena you can freely roam around, though your actual combat combos shift that perspective to a more 2D side-scrolling combat style (which is reminescent of the pre-PS2/PS3 Tales games. The thing I like is the 3D aspect, as you can do your combos and you can just run in all directions away from opponents instead of only left and right.

However, Vesperia’s combat system remains unchanged from 10 years ago. As such, it feels a bit clunky. The combos work pretty well when you start getting more skills, but the attacks start off a bit slow. The biggest clunkiness of it, however, is the lack of free 3D exploration. Like Tales of the Abyss, you have to hold down one of the trigger buttons to actually move in 3D. If you don’t press that down, you’re stuck in side-scroller mode, which is something a lot of newer Tales games, and even Tales of the World that came out around the time of Vesperia all don’t have a button for and allow you to do with just moving the Analog Stick.

tales 4 - combat

There are some other Quality of Life things that Vesperia lacked, like needing to make special items to play as other characters or change the party’s leader. However, most of those were changed and fixed with DE’s Free DLC, which not only gives you those special items from the get-go, but also gives players who don’t like to grind a break with a ton of “Party Level +5/+10” items. These can be used at any time so if you don’t like to grind, you can just pop a Party Level +5 item when things get too hard and you’ll be all caught up.

But there is one thing that the DLC didn’t change: Side Quest Confusion. Vesperia has loads and loads of side quests you can do across its story, and almost every single one of them is very easy to miss. Starting these quests require you to do very specific things, like sleep at the inn of a certain town several times in a row or visiting a certain location during a very short time-frame in the story. The amount of side content is pretty intimidating, but without a guide, not many players will actually be able to find them until they’ve already missed it.

Like most console Tales games, though, this is not a short game. Vesperia is known for its length and it really shows. Without doing any grinding thanks to those Level items, I managed to reach the end of the game while doing only a few side quests in around 40 hours or so. That was also because I missed most of the side quests, so if you do a fair amount of them and/or grind normally, that could easily increase that length to a good 45-50 hours.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t hard to do. It’s got a similar control style for combat as the other Tales games I’ve played.

You move around with the Left Analog Stick and move the camera with the Right Analog Stick. The D-Pad / Arrow Buttons are used for changing angles while exploring. The ZL and ZR triggers are used for swapping menu pages.

Finally, the face buttons. B is used for normal attacks in battle while A is used in combination with Analog directions for assigned skills. X is used for pulling up the menu and Y is used for blocking. The Minus button is also used in battle to switch Combat Modes between Manual, Semi-Auto, and Auto.

Presentation

tales 6 - presy

Graphically, the game looks pretty good in Docked Mode. There are jagged edges here and there, but it overall looks really nice. It’s not until you undock the Switch that it starts looking worse. It doesn’t look awful, but there is a lot more jagged edges and blurring effects in certain scenes.

Performance is wonderful as far as the frame-rate is concerned. In Docked and Handheld, the game remains at 60 fps while running through dungeons and towns and is locked to 30 in battle. I’ve never seen it drop below 30 in battle, so it’s a really nicely optimized game.

There are occasional crashes, though. Across a few dozen hours of gameplay, I had it crash on me twice. There was never a specific cause for this, as it seemed random. It’s there, though, so it would be wise to save often.

Battery Life

Being such a 3D action-heavy RPG, I didn’t expect Vesperia to have great Battery Life. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 53 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 00 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 33 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 42 minutes

A pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting to get much past the 3 hour mark, even on low settings.

In conclusion, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is a solid Action RPG with a lot of content. On the downside, there are some problems with story padding, clunkiness, and crashing hiccups. It’s certainly not the most modern Tales game out there, but it’s definitely a good one for series fans, especially if you never got to play it on the 360.

Final Score: 8/10