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Eliwood8

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Review

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504136616_TalesofVesperiaboxart.png.c8264569417c596935f39186aba57e59.pngWhat's caused the Tales games to have such inconsistent appearances on Nintendo systems? Despite originally premiering on the Super Famicom in 1995 with Tales of Phantasia, most Tales releases have skipped over Nintendo systems entirely and the last two games, Tales of the Abyss for 3DS and Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition for the Switch, have been ports. Still, Nintendo-RPG fans take their thrills where they can get them, and even if Vesperia is a 10-year old port, the franchise's signature action-RPG combat and colorful anime-inspired visuals make for a lengthy, engaging adventure.
 
Vesperia's main protagonist is Yuri Lowell, a former imperial knight who is now something of a vigilante, standing up for the lower-quarter peasants against the uncaring nobility. Yuri is still a fairly classic take on the good-guy-protagonist trope, but his flippant attitude and determination to do what's right, even if it means doing something wrong along the way, makes him an interesting focal point for the story. The overall plot starts off extremely slow in Vesperia, though. Yuri's adventure begins with chasing down a thief, and the low stakes of his quest don't really rise until nearly halfway through the game (i.e. dozens of hours for an RPG like this). It makes the first half of the game feel a bit plodding, especially as the characters frequently, and quite needlessly, spend time discussing what each of them want to do next. The plot eventually develops some interesting twists (though still sticks to classic save-the-world tropes) but the pacing of the storytelling can make slow sections of the game feel even slower.
 
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Like all Tales games, Vesperia uses the Linear Motion Battle System, meaning battles are carried out in real-time and you have full control over one character to move freely around the battlefield and attack while the AI controls the rest of your party. This kind of action-oriented battle system can be a welcome change from traditional turn-based battles, since it makes battles a bit more engaging, almost like a fighting game as you chain together attacks and try to find the best time to block or dodge. Vesperia isn't an all-out fighting game though, and your actions feel somewhat slow and stiff—even if the gameplay is real-time you still have to think strategically about how you approach enemies. And to fight well you need to be particularly thoughtful about how you time your attacks and chain together standard strikes and special abilities called Artes. Like most RPGs it's the boss battles that truly shine and require the most strategic thought, and are hence both particularly challenging and more rewarding.
 
The battle system also has its frustrating moments as well, though. For one thing, battling against groups of enemies is almost always a tedious endeavor since they can very easily stunlock you and deal massive damage. As you play you'll get better at avoiding such scenarios but especially in the early parts of the game it's downright frustrating. Additionally, you're always going to be wishing that your party's AI were a little smarter. You can set certain strategy plans to dictate how they act in battle (i.e. focus on healing, keep your distance from enemies, or even customize which Artes they can use), but even with these guidelines your party never feels like it's operating as efficiently as it could, especially when combos are a big part of the battle system—too often an ally's attack might knock an enemy out of your combo. On the bright side, you can have up to three friends join you in battle, and multiplayer combat tends to be much better coordinated—as long as your friends are pulling their weight. It's worth bringing a friend or two along though since another human brain in the mix has a large effect on how battles play out.
 
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Like many great RPGs, Vesperia has an almost overwhelming amount of content to sift through. In addition to learning Artes as you level up, you can also learn Skills by equipping different weapons. Skills can be as simple as increasing your strength or maximum health or have more specific benefits such as letting you chain together different Artes for longer combos. Even though you only gradually learn skills as you play they can still be somewhat overwhelming to deal with as they represent the more technical side of Vesperia's combat system. The game doesn't always do a great job of explaining the nitty gritty details of efficient Skill management, but it's also forgiving enough that the learning pains aren't too harsh.
 
Speaking of not explaining things, Vesperia has a bad habit of hiding side quests and side content in obscure nooks and crannies throughout the game. Some of these can be as simple as an extra short cutscene, but it's still a bit annoying to miss out on things that require revisiting previous towns with no indication that there's anything new to see there. Still, even if you don't spend much time poking around for side quests, Vesperia will likely last you a good 50 hours, plenty of value for the cost of the game. This Definitive Edition also adds a few extra features, including two additional playable characters, so there's plenty of value in this little Switch cartridge.
 
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Be aware that the game has some minor instability problems, though. I experienced three crashes while playing, and one of them was far enough from a save point that I lost a good amount of progress. The cause of crashes doesn't seem to be consistent but with the threat out there it's more important than ever to save at every available opportunity.
 
Vesperia's graphics are a good reminder of just how long 10 years actually is when it comes to video game design. That's not to say the visuals are bad, but there are few areas of the game that really push the environment graphics to be anything more than scenery, and the jagged edges of polygon models are readily apparent anytime there's a close-up. Still, the colorful anime-influence of the art design is charming and gives the characters a decent amount of personality, even if the animation can feels somewhat stiff at times. What's really disappointing is the inconsistent frame rate that can make some scenes look a little choppy—thankfully this is never an issue within battles though, and you can trust to perfectly smooth action while dishing up combos and devastating Artes.
 
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The music also has its ups and downs. There are a few standout tunes on the soundtrack but much of the music feels forgettable, and the voice work is equally inconsistent, mostly for the characters not in the main party. This Definitive Edition also includes the Japanese voices as an option every time you boot up the game though, so you can experiment with what sounds best for you.
 
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition offers up a ton of action-RPG enjoyment, whether you're slashing away at basic monsters or pulling out all the stops during intense boss fights in the real-time combat system. The game has a bad habit of slowing down engagement of the game with a somewhat plodding storyline and an overabundance of nitty gritty details with finding side quests or managing Skills, but RPG fans will certainly enjoy the wealth of gameplay here, particularly the new features that round out this Definitive Edition.
 
Rating: 8 out of 10 Artes

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I experienced those crashes too. Luckily, it crashed 5 minutes after I saved but yeah with it being so random that sucks and more so for those who either haven't saved in a while or don't have NSO with cloud saves.

 

Not to side track this thread but speaking of cloud saves, with no real progress on what is causing recent Ultimate update crash. Those who have NSO can always DL back the saves as long as you have auto-back up for all games compatible for cloud save which Ultimate. So I get its horrible the hours put into that game is gone and something should be done but this is one of the reasons why cloud saves are here. Just sayin;

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I've yet to experience any crashes in my time playing ToV DE but I am a save fanatic so I always am looking for the nearest save point in dungeons. This is a game I have been looking forward to and am glad I went digital so I don't have to switch out game cards to play it, been on an AoT2 rampage lately so it's easy to switch between the two.

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