Parents' Guide to

Tales of Berseria

By Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Fun yet dark role-playing game quickly becomes repetitive.

Game PlayStation 4 2017
Tales of Berseria Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Best Tales Game

Alright, first things first, the Common Sense rating is exaggerated and makes the game sound far worse than it truly is. It seems like whoever made the review didn't fully understand the game. This game is exceptional, and the role models and messages are realistic and emotional. The age I put down can be very controversial. This game is definitely for teens, but my sibling is 12, and they love it. Please be wary, and make sure your child is mature enough to handle dark themes involving murder, suicide, and arson, as well as some blood and mild language. WARNING, THE REST OF THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS SINCE MY POINTS MUST BE EXPLAINED PROPERLY. The tale is dark, but not creepy. It has a lot of humor, as well as emotion to help give a good balance, and the characters make the story come to life. This story involves daemons, malaks, and exorcists - daemons are humans that are overtaken by negative emotion, and sometimes, it turns them into literal monsters, but most of them retain their human features. Exorcists are the only people that can kill daemons, but they need the help of malaks to do it - a unique species (which pure-hearted humans can sometimes be reincarnated as). However, exorcists believe that daemons are the ultimate manifestation of suffering and sadness, and they must be eliminated. But in reality, daemons are misunderstood people with feelings and families who love them. In this game, the lines between good and evil are really blurry, as this is a war between logic and emotion. While the Abbey, the organization of supposed "heroes" comes up with a new way to save the world, Velvet, the main character, goes against the world to reveal that they aren't the shining beacon they pretend to be. For example, the Abbey prepares to stop all of mankind's pain and suffering. What they don't tell the public is that it involves stripping humans of all emotion. Another example of hidden truths is the church (which is most likely based on the catholic religion, but it is a polytheistic religion, as there are four gods, dragons called Empyreans). The high priest in the church is a generous and righteous man the entire country looks up to, but he is in fact, a fraud, who sells illegal drugs behind the scenes. One of the main morals in this game is don't judge a book by its cover. Oftentimes, monsters are still human at heart, and good people often hide the evil intent from outsiders' vision. In this story, it's your intentions that justify your actions. For example, Artorius, the main villain, killed Velvet's brother because he intended to start the ritual to end human suffering, but Velvet intends to kill Artorius for doing so because she believes humans need to have free will. The game constantly circles around this point as the characters try to figure out if and when killing can be a justified action. Similarly, characters commit arson, which is illegal, but what they're burning is illegal drugs - would it be justified then? Or when Velvet kidnaps a child - kidnapping is wrong, but she is rescuing him from being an emotionless slave - would helping someone earn back their freedom be a crime? Synopsis: The story revolves around Velvet, who begins the story as a kindhearted, normal 16 year old girl, but her beloved brother is killed before her eyes by her brother-in-law/teacher, Artorius. After being turned into a daemon, she is sent to an island prison, where the player begins the game three years later. Role models: In my honest opinion, CSM is making Velvet out to be a sadistic, twisted villain - she really isn't - she's been betrayed by her own family, watched as her loved ones get killed before her eyes, forced into a life she didn't deserve - and despite all of that, she is still perfectly capable of following both her head and her heart, and still be herself. As a role model, Velvet doesn't seem like one in the beginning, since she is a serious character fixated on getting revenge for her brother. In the beginning, she is also willing to kill anyone who gets in her way, but as the game progresses, she grows horrified at the thought of killing other people. As the game goes on, she realizes what it means to be alive, and that life is better with friends. Most times, especially in the beginning, she is portrayed as a vengeful monster, but the player will discover that she still has much of her human personality and that she regrets losing the life she had before, as she is often nostalgic about the past - it just goes to show just how strong she is when, in a way, her past is relived and she must get it stripped from her a second time. It's revealed that she still loves to cook, clean, and have fun, just like any other teenage girl. She regains her snarky sense of humor, and she is witty, as she likes to invent words, such as "Ekatzipate" and "Freeching". She still acts cold occasionally, but she does this to hide any vulnerabilities so that she can keep her leadership skills intact, as she makes an exceptionally decisive and strategic leader. Toward the end of the game, she breaks down in tears: "The Lord of Calamity isn't a daemon lord. She's just a selfish, horrible girl." Her hatred of her nemesis over the course of the game recedes, and it warps into a self-hatred. Her friends are quick to reassure her that they have her back and will be there for her, no matter what. One of her best character traits is that she pushes onward, no matter what - she struggles to fight onward for the people she loves, even though she was liable to break in the process. She realizes that revenge isn't everything, but love is instead. Quotes: "People stripped of their feelings can never truly be alive. We're going to make this world one where people can be themselves." "No matter how selfish you are, life's pointless without anyone to share it with. More than anything, I don't want to give up. Not on myself." Along the way, she meets Magilou and Rokurou in the prison, neither of whom are saints themselves, where Magilou is a supposed witch, and Rokurou is, like Velvet, a daemon. Rokurou and Velvet are very similar, but their intentions are different. For example, Rokurou wants to kill his brother, while Velvet wants to avenge hers. One recurring gag, which also a good character trait of his, is that Rokurou is fixated on repaying any debt he may have. After Velvet finds his missing sword, he vows to repay her and follows her on her journey. Rokurou is really good with children, and he is quick to laugh and have fun. Despite Rokurou's bloodthirsty tendencies, he shows the player that it's best to strive for greatness with a smile, rather than letting your life go to waste, mulling over regrets. Quotes: "All I ever wanted was to beat my brother. That's good enough for me." "I owe you for saving me back there! There's no victory pose in store for me if I'm dead!" "Finally! Time to repay my debt!" Magilou is a happy, carefree character who loves to cause mischief. (She is mainly the comic relief in this game). However, the player eventually learns that her past was extremely tragic, since she suffered from abandonment, never being loved by anyone, and her heart had broken three times. Despite working as hard as she could to become the best of the best, she failed her final test (because she was distracted by the thought of being with a loving family) and was promptly kicked to the curb. She always hides her true feelings beneath a facade of dramatic beguilement out of fear of getting her heart broken again. She's not much of a role model, especially considering she has a gambling problem, but beneath her overdramatic attitude, she has wise quotes and mantras to encourage and enlighten others. Quote: "Some may look down on them [people] and scoff at their foolishness, but their unwavering wills are proof that they're alive! If that's what you call evil, then I will live and die with evil as my mantra!" "Pandemoniom! My favorite!" Eizen is a pirate, and he's a really good role model. He's a nice, calm guy, and he loves his younger sister (who is mentioned several times in the game). However, he has something called the Reaper's Curse, where he brings bad luck to anyone he encounters. He believes very strongly that people shouldn't control what he believes or control his life, and this goes for others too. He gets angry when he finds malaks whose wills have been taken away by exorcists, as they no longer control the direction of their lives. He shows the player that even when bad things happen, or friends you care for die, the only thing to do is persevere. "It's okay to feel lost. Let yourself wander for a while. But whatever you end up choosing, decide it for yourself. That's all that matters." "If you always work hard and never give up, you'll make your own way forward." "Your wheel is yours alone to hold." Eleanor is a tremendous role model, as she is sweet, emotional, yet logical and smart. She is willing to do anything to take care of others, even take her own life if it means saving the world. She wants to make the world a safer place so people don't have to suffer from familial loss the way she did. Before she joins the party, she is an antagonist. This is because she grew up believing the Abbey was an organization that would save the world from daemons (especially since her village and mother were killed when she was 8). She has different beliefs compared to the party, and this is reflected often in their interactions, as she is virtuous, and doesn't always see the evil intent in people's hearts. She is a very just and fair person, even refusing to kill Velvet when she had the chance just because she must uphold a promise she made to Velvet before their duel. Once Eleanor learns that everything she believes in is all a lie and all her heroes are frauds, she joins the party for good and fights for the player's cause. She believes that honesty is the best policy, and she is very uncomfortable when she must lie to the party. Once she finds out that malaks are like humans with their own personalities and quirks, she is appalled at her actions, realizing that she never should have treated them as slaves. She and Velvet are set up as foil characters, with one being a daemon, the other an exorcist - and with Velvet being seen as a "villain" and Eleanor seen as a "hero" - but after they get over their initial conflictions about each other, they become really good friends, since despite having many differences, they have a lot of similarities also - they are willing to see the faults of the other and help build each other up in times of weakness. Quote: "There must be a way to make a better world for everyone. And I intend to find it. It might takes years. No, decades, centuries, generations. Even if it takes me a millennia, I'll do it." "A promise is a promise, sweetheart." Velvet discovers a nameless malak, a slave to an exorcist, and kidnaps him, thinking he may be of use to them. However, she learns that his will has been sealed away, and as such, he is more of a tool or robot than a living being. So, Velvet gives him a name, Laphicet, and the rest of the gang teaches the malak, over the course of the game, what it truly means to be alive, what it means to love and have friends. Laphicet goes from being a nameless robot to a young boy who likes bugs and exploring - the life literally returns to his eyes, and his character development is really moving as he learns to make decisions and have opinions. Quote: "I don't care if you're malevolent, or if it was pointless! If the world says it's a mistake to love you, I'll fight the whole world! I don't care how much pain you feel! It doesn't matter! A world without you is the one thing I couldn't bear!" "Well, moping won't get us anywhere!" Naturally, this game has character development coming out its ears, so watching the characters grow and mature over the course of the game is inspiring and heartwarming. Positive messages and themes: It's okay to have doubts and fears, to be hungry or sleepy - it's okay to feel pain. That's what it means to be alive - to have a will of your own. People are not tools; they have their own wills. People are not expendable; everyone is valuable. It's normal to be imperfect, no one should judge you for being yourself - your imperfections make you human, even if you don't look like one. While your sins shouldn't define you, they, as well as your ambitions, make you who you are. Parents love their children no matter what, even if kids make mistakes, even when parents die, parents always love their children. Being tough and aggressive isn't going to get you through life. You also need to be flexible and bend, or else you'll break. You guide the wheel of your own life; others shouldn't tell you how to live your own life. It is terrible when children are abused or killed, and it is an awful thing for parents to die or abandon their families. Blind obedience and slavery is wrong - if you are following someone else's ideals without knowing the truth, you may be leading yourself to an unseen disaster. If you are forcing someone to follow your ideals, you aren't allowing them to be human. Love surpasses everything, as it brings out both the best and the worst in everyone. "Don't despair, no matter what!" Violence: characters do use lances, swords, daggers, etc., But there really isn't any gore. (A lizard-man gets his tail cut off, so I suppose that's where the body part loss comes from in the CSM review.) (And in that scene, CSM makes it sound like Velvet is sadistic, but the reason she cuts off his tail is not so that he's tortured, but so that the lizard-man can escape from his pursuers, because by bringing his tail to the bad guys, she can report him "dead" and he can escape alive.) There is a relative amount of blood, because characters do get stabbed or cut, but it is rarely shown - and only just enough to get the point across. And yes, characters do get impaled, I can think of about three times off the top of my head, once in the beginning, middle and end, but it is not gorey, only slightly bloody. Since you play as a rebel group, you do a lot of questionable things, like blow up storehouses, kill bad guys, and trespass into cities, but you also do good things, like prevent assassinations, save innocent people, and ultimately save the world from destruction. Also, a character does have a gun, but the CSM review fails to mention that it is loaded with HEALING bullets, not bullets that kill people. The people who get shot with these bullets are saved from death. One of the main ideas in the story is that there is a species of daemon called "therions." Therions eat other daemons, but not anything cannibalistic or zombie-esque at all. Velvet has a demonic claw that she uses to "eat" other beings, where she grabs them with her claw, and they disappear into a cloud of smoke. Other characters have this trait as well, but they have other methods of "eating the daemons", but the "eaten" enemy always turns into a cloud of smoke; there is no gore. Characters do have tragic pasts, and dark subjects such as murder, suicide and revenge are brought up, but the story has a lot of humor to balance it out. 30 second long animated cutscenes appear occasionally, and they are very vivid and a bit more violent than the rest of the game. This game spans a long time, with scenes over 12 hours in length and actual gameplay that takes eons to play, so violence in this game is always in very small increments - from a personal standpoint, this game is darker than it is violent. Sex: one of the best things about this game is that there is no romance. While there are implied feelings occasionally, nothing is official, as the game is plot-based, and romance would simply get in the way of positive messages. However, there are a LOT of innuendoes, and a couple costumes (looking at Velvet and Magilou) don't leave a whole lot to the imagination, but thankfully, the playable characters have a costume change option, where the player can switch their costume to something more appropriate at any given time. Swearing: there are some curse words, but they are pretty infrequent. For the most part, it's Shigure that says the questionable stuff, but he is a villain, so it's not really much of a problem. Curse words mentioned more than once "d*mn""h*ll", curse words mentioned once or so "b*stard" "*ss""p*ss" Drugs/alcohol: Rokurou and Eizen, who are both well into adulthood, like to drink. They spend this time to discuss plans and thoughts. Several non-playable background characters show up drunk (especially since this game revolves around pirates and sailors). All the other characters are underage (Velvet refuses to touch it, as she is 19.) Ease of Play: this game is somewhat simple to learn, but very difficult to master. The maps take a long time to traverse, but the cutscenes and skits make the wait worthwhile. Unlike what the CSM review says, I believe the gameplay actually weighs down the storyline, since the maps are repetitive, lengthy, mazelike, and gameplay is repetitive when played one-player. (It's much more fun with two-player, despite the first two hours or so being strictly one-player due to the plot). I believe the storyline is the best part of the game, and the gameplay ought to have been shortened just a little bit to compliment the plot more (although this is just my opinion.) Humor: this game has a very dry sense of humor. Often, the characters are teasing each other, and the reactions vary from uncontrolled rage to flustered stammering. Puns are occasional, and cartoony noises are often heard. Slapstick punches are implied. Despite all the serious parts of the game, the game takes a satirical turn at times, as characters make light of dark/negative themes as a coping mechanism (please take note that all characters are fully aware of the reality and are just trying to ease tension.) Hilarious moments range from an over-the-head innuendo, to a conversation about beetles, to an argument over whether cats or dogs are better, to cooking advice, to innocent bluntness, to surprised reactions, to full force sarcasm. There's never a dull moment, and the relatively frequent humor makes the characters likeable and relatable and the dark themes bearable. Other: this game has so much lore, so much plot to it, and the characters are so well written, the voice acting in both japanese and English is captivating and beautiful and filled with emotion. The music is a really nice touch. The concepts are realistic, and the characters are relatable. The graphics are lovely and in depth, even showing the minute details of eyelids flickering and subtle differences in skin-tone. Questions that characters often think to themselves/discussion points (since CSM likes to add "talk to your kids about" section) How much are you willing to sacrifice to reach your goal? If you kill someone to achieve your goal, are you no better than your arch-nemesis? Can you kill your betrayer if you love them? What does it mean to be alive? Is life something you must earn? Is it better to kill someone mercifully if they are never going to get better? Is revenge the most important thing? Is it better to sacrifice one for the good of many, or rescue one if it means going against the world? Do birds fly because they must, or because they want to? This is a game that is really deep; it causes the player a lot of introspection (and quite possibly tears, as the story line is so beautiful and moving.) So follow Velvet on her path to vengeance, Laphicet as he learns what it means to be alive, Magilou as she seeks to mend her broken heart, Rokurou as he strives for greatness, Eizen as he searches for his missing friend, and Eleanor as she discovers that people are not always what they seem. This incredible game has the most wonderful, inspirational plot I have ever experienced, and I believe it is highly underrated due to misunderstood reviews. Thanks for sticking with me through this review! I hope you enjoy the game just as much as I did!
age 12+

My favorite tales game thus far

this game is beautiful. Sure it has dark themes and actions but once you get past them it's a nice game about being your own person. You might be the same title as the villain in zestiria and fight the hero title from that game but it's only evil becuase of how it's portrayed in zestiria. This is one of those games you can't review properly unless you've beaten and understand what it's saying. This is my third review becuase I hadn't beaten the game before this and the ending really takes a positive turn. Don't believe me; just watch the ending on YouTube. It's as positive as other tales titles but that's not clear until the end; the rest of it just masks that with dark themes and action.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Despite its dark overtones, this is a fun, action-heavy role-playing game, but it isn't without a couple of shortcomings. While a great amount of attention was devoted to the story, character development, and dialogue, all of it weighs down the pacing and gameplay. There seems to be a lot of unnecessary and/or repetitive exchanges between characters that will no doubt affect the gamer's interest. It's also a much darker story than in previous years. But the action is what will keep you glued to your screen. Mastering attacks during frenetic real-time combat is a blast, and pulling off timed combos and chained moves is quite easy and gratifying. One of the best parts of the combat is playing around with the variety of abilities (called "artes") across all half-dozen party members.

Visually speaking, the game looks dated, and there isn't much to be said about the basic level design and occasional, simple puzzles. The action is intense, which makes up for it, but that also grows repetitive after a while, despite the variety in party members, weapons, and abilities. Consider it a feeling of "rinse and repeat" after a few hours with controller in hand. But overall, Tales of Berseria is a solid game for fans of the franchise. For everyone else, it might be best as a weekend rental or worth picking up once it drops in price.

Game Details

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