Backlogged: Tales of Berseria

Time to Finish: 49 hours


This is the second 40+ hour RPG I’ve beaten this year. I can’t tell you the last time I put 2 of these away so quickly, relatively speaking. I think the last long RPG I played before Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning earlier this year was Tales of Zesteria in 2018.

Tales of Berseria is the prequel to Tales of Zesteria. Besides being set in the same world, a few character cameos, and one re-occurring character, you wouldn’t know it. Tales of Berseria is it’s own game even if you didn’t play Zestiria. That said, I’m glad I played Zestiria first because the little references here and there were fantastic.

Things I Liked:


The Story: The story is long. It involves a lot of characters. It has so many moving parts. It’s engaging but it’s not overly complex. The main thread is that Velvet’s brother was sacrificed to a god by her sister’s husband, Arthur, to “save” the world. Velvet got turned into a demon and Arthur became the Sheperd, the savior of the world.  Velvet’s single motivation throughout the game is to kill Arthur to avenge her brother. Along the way she meets a cast of characters with their own goals that line up in a way that helps her reach her goal.


The Skits: Everything in Tales of Berseria is voice acted and its voice acted well. There are optional “skits” that pop up everywhere. The skits are usually banter between the party or an event that serves nothing more than a bit of fluff. But these skits are what I like most about Berseria.  I get to know the characters better through these inane conversations and it never feels like a waste of time. There’s also voiced NPC conversations that do nothing more than provide a little flavor to the world. I stopped to listen to each one and I never regretted it.

The Characters: In the beginning, I liked the characters but I didn’t think they were as good as the cast of Tales of Zestiria. As I got further into the game I started to like them more. By the end of the game, I genuinely will miss spending time with these characters. Which is exactly how I felt at the end of Zestiria.


The Combat: In Zestiria, the attacks were on the face buttons of the controller and on the D-Pad meaning you could have 16 attacks on each face button depending on which directional button you pressed. Tales of Berseria has attacks mapped to the face buttons which leaves you with 4 per button. It’s simpler and some might say that’s a bad thing. I found it easier to remember combos and which attacks were coming next. I enjoyed it more because I had a better grasp of what I was doing and I wasn’t just mashing buttons and hoping I was hitting the right attacks.



Things That Could Have Been Better:

The Mastery System: The first time I tried to start this game I completely missed how this system worked. This second time around I actually read the tutorial and its not your typical RPG armor system. Each piece of equipment has a mastery bar. When filled it gives a permanent stat to that character. If multiple characters can wear that piece of armor then each character has to master it. This leads to a ton of swapping armor around characters for the stats and also leaves you equipping much lower level gear for the stats. I felt like I was constantly having to equip weaker items and that just didn’t make sense to me. Even at the end of the game, I was picking up items that were worse than what I was wearing. The final dungeon I equipped everything with the highest stats and disregarded the mastery system.


Some Interesting Statistics:

There are these titles you can unlock when certain requirements are met and some of the requirements provide some interesting stats I’ve never seen before.

Skits Viewed: 361 – I watched as many of these as I could I knew there were a lot but that was a much higher number than I would have guessed.

Total Encounters: 750 – This is the number of times I was in combat. First of all, how great is it that it’s a nice even number. Second, that’s a much lower number than I would have guessed.

Battle Time: 405 minutes – Out of 49 hours I was in combat for 7 of them. Each battle lasting around 1.5 minutes

Menu Time: 265 minutes – This is the one stat I’ve never seen before nor gave much thought to. Out of 49 hours of gameplay, I was in the menu for 4 and a half hours. I wonder how much of the time I spend in the menus of other games…

Here’s the kicker if you add up the battle time and menu time you see just how much of this game is watching cutscenes and running around. 11 hours of the 49 hours were spent in battle and making decisions in the menu. That leaves 38 hours of cutscenes and world exploration. I can tell you I definitely spent far more time in cutscenes than running around. And I’m ok with that. It gave this game feel very much like binging a good TV show.


I Should Have Known Better…


I had every intention of finishing up Tales of Berseria yesterday. I was 38 hours in and I felt like I was getting close to the end. All the plot points were wrapping up, I was doing a lot of backtracking through areas I’d been to before, and the cut scenes were getting more dramatic.

About an hour and a half in I was getting “end game boss soon” vibes. I must have forgotten I was playing JRPG…2 hours of playtime after that, I was tasked with hunting down a bunch of stuff, awakening some gods, fighting some more characters, and running all over the world again to do it. The more I tried to push the story the more stuff there was to do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my time with Tales of Berseria, but I wanted to see how the story ends. A lot of what I was doing in the final act wasn’t mere padding, it was touching more on the side characters backstories some more which I like about this game. I just didn’t expect it to take so long to do.I pushed on, determined to beat the game.


Right around the 46 hour mark I had actually wrapped all of the character’s story arcs except our main character Velvet. I had summoned 4 gods so I could fight a fifth god for the fate of humanity. I was ready for the final battle. I stepped into the final area and was met with a multi-floor puzzle dungeon. I decided to put the controller down and do something else with the rest of my Saturday.

I came back to it fresh this morning to complete the final dungeon. When I played Tales of Zesteria, I rushed the final dungeon dodging all the encounters between me and the final boss.  That wasn’t such a great plan. The final boss rocked my under-leveled world so hard I had to drop the difficulty to do any damage. So I took my time leveling up. I may have gone a bit overboard but it was worth. I felt like the final fight had a good level of difficulty. In all, it took 3 hours to see the credits roll. Leaving my total playtime at 49 hours.


When it was all over I had mixed feelings. The story was great and I wanted to see it’s conclusion but part of me didn’t want the game to end. After spending almost 50 hours with these characters I’m going to kind of miss them. I felt the same way after Zestiria. There is a little part of me that wants to start up a new game plus but the rational part of me knows it’s time to move on to a different and much shorter game.

Morning Games


I learned in high school that waking up at 5am to play Guild Wars before school was not a good idea. Getting up early left me tired and I found all I would think about throughout the day was playing the game. I also never had enough time to do the things I wanted to do. By the time I got settled into the game, it was time to get ready and catch the bus. Since then I’ve avoided playing games in the morning.

My wife started a new job at the beginning of the year and her schedule has her waking up at 5am on days she works. Sometimes I get up with her and that leaves me a lot of time between when she leaves for work and when I start work at 8am.

I was experimenting with what to do with this time in between. Obviously, one of the best uses of this time would be to write a blog post. Reading has also proven to be a good option. I’m actually on track to hit my goal of reading 15 books this year because of this. The thing is, when I get up so much earlier than my usual routine, I start to feel like it’s a day off. Then the cold reality of having to go to work sets in. Sometimes I find it hard to get motivated to go…


Over the last few months, I’ve found that the sweet spot is waking up around 6 every day. It gives me enough time to do things in the morning but not so much time that I feel like it’s the weekend. I’m sure having a consistent schedule has also helped as well as I get used to having the time and needing to go to work. I’ve been trying to keep this schedule consistent while working from home. I’ll admit the first few days I totally woke up at 7:30 for my 8am start time. But without a commute, I have even more time in the morning.

Lately, I’ve been firing up Tales of Berseria and playing for an hour or so in the morning before switching my set up over to work mode. Since it’s linear and largely story-driven I always feel like I’m moving forward even if it’s just getting to the next set of cutscenes or skits. On normal, the combat system isn’t overly complex which makes combat flashy and enjoyable but not to difficult for my sleepy self.


I find it strange that it’s easier to switch my mind over to work mode from my home desk than when I have to go into the office. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep this habit of playing a game before work after we’re able to go back to our offices. Who knows though, it may just be Tales of Berseria is the kind of game that lends itself well to being played for very little or a lot of time.

Of course, it would be more productive to use that time for blogging…

Deja vu


20190121113830_1.jpgIf there’s one constant in my gaming habits it’s this: if I start a game and leave it for a few months, the next time I want to play I will start over. I can’t get back into it from the point I left off. Reasons being I won’t remember what’s going on in the story, won’t remember how to play, or won’t know what half the stuff in my inventory is for. Starting from the beginning always seems like the best option when my last save says I was 9 hours into the game.

I’ve started playing Tales of Berseria again which is the last one on my shortlist of games I wanted to finish. The problem is I haven’t played it in over a year. I vaguely remember what was going on and there happens to be a nice synopsis menu tab but still, I felt the need to start over.


What intrigued me about Berseria is that the main character, Velvet, is an anti-hero. But the first hour and a half of the game you play as Velvet before she got turned into a demon. She’s just an ordinary woman trying to take care of her sick brother and provide for her family. If the story started with her being introduced as the woman who’s singular goal is revenge and she’s also a demon who eats other demons I would have rolled my eyes. But that first hour of gameplay makes her a very likable character and then she’s thrown into a prison for 3 years after witnessing her little brother being sacrificed by her father figure. It makes a whole lot more sense why her character is a little on edge.


I never feel like I’ve wasted time when I start over. I remember some story beats, some characters, but for the most part, it’s new to me all over again. I have this ability to be engrossed in a story be it in a game or a book while I’m playing/reading it but talk to me about it a month after I finish it and I probably can’t even tell you the main characters name. I can tell you how much I liked or disliked it and some of the reasons. I liked Tales of  Zestiria for it’s cast of characters and it’s a focused story. Playing these first few hours of Berseria I get the same vibes. It feels familiar because I’ve played through this part but there’s still a ton that’s been new to me.