Join the epic battle to save the world! In Tales of Zestiria, we follow Sorey, a boy raised by Seraphim – a mystical spirit race – with a love of exploration. Sorey and his best friend Mikleo quickly become involved in the struggle for salvation as the world is slowly corrupted by malevolence. As the new Shepherd – a hero that appears in times of chaos – Sorey travels the world in attempt to stop the Lord of Calamity. Along the way, Sorey meets and is aided by a colorful group of humans and seraphim.
As the fifteenth main entry of the Tales series, Zestiria was released in North America on October 20 for the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and PC. The game is available through Steam and there is already downloadable content for the game, which includes different costumes for the characters and various items to help start you on your journey.
If you are new to the Tales series, it is a JRPG, Japanese role playing game, which usually features unlikely heroes saving the world from destruction. Its action based Linear Motion Battle System – LMBS is a real time battle system in which all characters and enemies are moving on the battle field at once – sets the series apart from other JRPG and, throughout the years, the franchise has integrated other features unique to the series.
In this installment, the abilities and skills are divided between the two races. The human characters specialize in melee-based artes (skills) while the seraphim characters specialize in magical artes. Mystic Artes – powerful artes that are unique to each character – are also brought back.
There is a new form of unison attacks this time around (sort of). In two of the past installments, Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Xillia, there were such attacks called unison attacks (link artes in ToX) where two characters combine attacks to deal heavier damage to an enemy. In ToZ, armitzation is a new function that fuses one human and one seraphim to create a powerful and deadly hybrid.
Unlike its predecessors, ToZ uses real map battles. Instead of a separate battle screen, the battle now takes place in limited spacing of wherever the character was at the start of the battle. This feature changes things as the environment and topography will affect certain characters’ moves and skillset.
Mana is no more, again! Mana points, the usual cost of using skills, has been replaced with a spirit chain bar (SC). All actions, whether it be attacks, skills, or blocking, take certain amounts of SC to use. When doing nothing or dodging at the correct moments, SC will recharge. Because of this, every move is critical as having a depleted bar might cost the battle.
Another new fuction is the Lord of Towns. Along Sorey’s journey, he comes along seraphims that will help him by protecting the towns. These lords give extra advantages to Sorey and his party in battles as well as when Sorey is on the world map.
Although the game has a lot of new content, ToZ sticks to its roots and much of what is loved returns. The gameplay is much the same as previous titles, but of course with a new storyline and characters. Each character is unique and has his or her own quirks that make them loveable. This is shown in skits – short segments in which the characters converse about events in their journey. Titles, which affect character stats, and costumes, which are purely cosmetic, returns as well.
All in all, Tales of Zestiria is a great addition to the Tales series. It is a great mix of old and new content that will keep you playing for hours.
Note: This article was featured in the Winter 2015 print edition of The Prospector.