It’s currently just past midnight, and I’m sleepy! There will totally be more of a written post here by like, noon New York time tomorrow in which I complain about Tales of Zestiria a bit now that I finished it this Saturday.
Be back with more text later!
OK IT’S LATER NOW.
I’m going to talk a bit about my major issues with Tales of Zestiria, so… TALES OF ZESTIRIA SPOILERS AHEAD!
Let’s start with an admission of something I was wrong about, the battle system. In my initial attempt at playing this game, my eyes glazed over with now annoying the battle system was, how many different elements there were to it, and how forcing certain team members to be in the party at all times was a hassle.
While the last part definitely still stands (although I recognize the narrative reasoning behind it), ToZ has a really interesting, deep battle system. There’s a risk/reward system with the SC meter, forcing the player to make split second decisions: “Do I use up all my meter right now cause I think I’ll do enough damage to win the fight on this exchange? Do I save it to keep myself from getting exposed?” It’s neat, as are the armitizations and mystic artes.
The downside though are the controls and camera. While the battle system is deep, it isn’t tight. Often times I found my characters executing actions that had nothing to do with my button presses while the camera would zoom in and out like a drunk photographer when in tight corridors.
Those inconveniences aside, the fights were fun, good job ToZ!
Let’s now talk about everything else, for lack of a better way to let it all out, here’s a big list:
- Story: Nothing happens. Tales of Zestiria is a story of a country bumpkin who gets all strong and defeats the Big Bad. While there are a ton of games that follow that basic structure, the Big Bad of ToZ isn’t really all that big or bad, nor is he important in any meaningful way. Generally in Tales games, the characters have to overcome an enemy that threatens the very foundation of the universe, or is the very foundation of the universe. In Tales of Zestiria, the main characters basically have to fight a bad guy who’s been around for roughly 18 years. That’s it. There’s no new paradigm shifting goal that they achieve, just some bad dude that had badness thrust upon him.
- Characters: Oh my god this has to be the worst part of the game… here’s the principal cast:
- Sorey: Holy heck they wanted this guy to be Lloyd so hard. He’s the aforementioned country bumpkin with a heart of gold, who is super idealistic, wants everyone to live in harmony, has a non-human friend with silver hear and wears blue… I mean jeez Namco, if you want another game with Lloyd in it just make another game in the Tales of Symphonia timeline.
- Mikleo: Wannabe Genis. Sometimes endearing, most times cardboard cutout.
- Lilah: Anytime anything of importance is discussed, goes full “I’m totally ignoring you by talking about something cute-sy” anime mode. Should be the best character in the game due to her knowledge of the history of the Shepards and previous Shepard journeys, but her shtick gets real old real fast.
- Edna: The only character I like. She definitely has the anime loli-weirdness going on, but her deadpan delivery of her insults is too funny to not enjoy. She’s lacking in story however, which given the events of Berseria doesn’t make sense. Edna predates everyone in the game other than Zaveid (who was also around during the time of Berseria) so her knowledge of everything since the genesis of the Shepards and the birth of Maltelous should have made her a much more prominent character in the narrative. For some reason, she’s relegated to the comic relief.
- Dezel: Neckbeard edgelord nonsense. Holy moley I’ve never disliked a Tales character more than this pile of edgy teenager cliches. I don’t know how this character got approved. Absolute garbage who contributes nothing to the game other than grunts and talks about how tough he is or needs to be or how he’s a protector yada yada. Oh my god kill me now.
- Zaveid: Replaces Dezel once Dezel mercifully leaves the party. Like Edna, he predates everyone in the game all the way back to prior to Berseria, but somehow his character is just “womanizer.” Waste of yet another character who should have made meaningful contributions.
- Rose: I’m an assassin! I run a business! I’m an assassin! I run a business! Repeat ad nauseum.
- Open world maps and fast travel: If you have fast travel, just have fast travel available all the time. There are tons of moments in the game where fast travel is disabled, or fast travel to specific locations are disabled. This occurs because there game needs the player to witness a scene juuuuust outside of town, or at the entrance, etc. and for whatever reason can’t just have the scene take place upon arrival to the fast travel location. This forces the player to fast travel to the closest possible spot, and then run across the giant maps just to see a fifteen second scene. This is absolutely horrendous game design. Just have the useless scene somewhere else, or if it just has to be right out of town, just instantly warp the player there immediately following the previous scene. There’s an unacceptable level of mindless backtracking.
- The fetch quest: There is a point in Tales of Zestiria where everything comes to a screeching halt for a THREE HOUR FETCH QUEST. Sorey and co. must run around the world to view a bunch of five to ten second scenes that are sometimes easily accessible, and sometimes not. For example on of the missions forced Sorey to explore this desert location (the largest single map area in the game) for an elephant. Not just any elephant (of which there were many), but on specific elephant. That’s just super annoying. The draw distance of the monsters is pretty shallow, so I traversed nearly the entire map before running into it. Multiply this by like, 15 more events of stupidity and you get the most horrendous mandatory fetch quest in the history of video games.
- The Map/MiniMap: If you’re in the same area as your goal location, a gold star will appear on the mini map. If you’re not in the same area as your goal location, no star, nor is there any star anywhere to give you an idea where to go. Fortunately, you can talk to your teammates to get a sense of where to head next, but it seems like a tease to use a star only when in the exact right place to be.
- Purple stars: these indicate non-mandatory sidequests… until they suddenly don’t. That three hour fetch quest? Yeah, purple stars. I ended up doing some non-mandatory stuff during that segment simply because the purple stars took on a new definition without any warning. Once again, horrendous game design.
Is Tales of Zestiria worth playing? Not really. ToZ has now taken the title of “Least Favorite Tales Game” which was previously held by Tales of the Abyss.
Boooooo Tales of Zestiria, boo.