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Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Game Poster Image
Fantastic new edition of a classic adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

No real positive or negative messages clearly delivered. While there's discussion of ethics, gameplay essentially boils down to traditional good-versus-evil story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters in your party are quite different but most are friendly and likable. One or two can be jerks. One character even makes sexual comments about another's breasts.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.
 

Violence

Game has moderate violence with some blood, but it's very cartoon-like. Characters can engage in mostly melee-style battles with enemies mostly fantastical in nature, such as dragons and wild beasts, using swords, knives, magic attacks (fiery spells). Some cutscenes show violence and blood, such as a character impaled, another one stabbed, dead wolves near pool of blood on ground.

Sex

Some suggestive imagery, mostly with girls that show large amounts of cleavage in low-cut tops. Some dialogue refers to breast size, including lines like "Like my boobs could fill out that top," and "No need to be so sassy, Flatty McChesterson." In one cutscene sequence, a man is seen peeping at women bathing.

Language

Some mild swearing, including words like "damn," "ass," "hell," and "bastard."

Consumerism

Based on a classic 10-year-old Japanese role-playing game, and while this "definitive edition" includes some free downloadable content (DLC), additional DLC may become available at a later time (which may not be free).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players can enter taverns, talk with townsfolk who slur their speech when ordering drinks. Alcohol is referenced in dialogue, such as "Nothing is solved by drinking. I know that. But I can't get by without my alcohol." In some game environments, players can play poker games and redeem winnings for in-game currency. There's also a pipe-smoking dog.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is a role-playing game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. It stars a group of young friends who band together to fix its country's water supply. While it seems family-friendly enough -- and looks like a cartoon -- the game focuses heavily on combat, as characters use hand-to-hand weapons like swords and knives, as well as magic, to defeat enemies. While battles are usually gore-free, there's some blood in cutscenes. Girls often show a large amount of cleavage, plus there are a couple of comments in the dialogue that refer to a woman's breast size. There's also some drinking in the game by characters in taverns, some gambling (playing poker), and some mild swearing, such as "damn" and "ass."

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What's it about?

TALES OF VESPERIA: DEFINITIVE EDITION is the expanded release for the 10th anniversary of the beloved Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Tales of Vesperia. This remastered version adds more content and better graphics and sound, and is available for several modern platforms. You once again take control of a party of male and female characters out to retrieve an ancient artifact, the Blastia, which is said to regulate the country's water levels. What starts off as a fairly simple mission evolves into an epic power struggle -- a showdown with oppressive government forces -- and introduces some topics surrounding freedoms, morality, and sacrifice. Characters talk with townspeople to take on missions, engage in real-time battles against enemies (using might and magic), and must level-up abilities to take on tougher foes, including boss characters or several fighters in one scene. Along with HD cel-shaded graphics and better-quality audio, the game adds an extended story, new party members, bonus mini-games, and a collection of downloadable content (DLC), including new costumes and items -- depending on which version you buy.

Is it any good?

This remaster of an adventure classic enhances the gameplay with lots of extra content that will keep players exploring for hours. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition has been enhanced with many visual updates and with new abilities called Mystic Artes, which are different for each character, and for the first time, it's a portable game thanks to the Nintendo Switch version. The first thing longtime fans of the game will recognize is the new additions to the party. Along with the usual cast, there's now Patty Fleur, a young pirate girl in search of treasure and adventure, and Flynn Scifo, Yuri's best friend and an imperial knight. As in the original game, not everyone gets along, which is interesting, but it all works. That said, the story's still one of the weaker links of this overall great experience. There's a lot of repetition, confusing discussions (maybe due to the English translation), and voice actors that change for the same character, presumably because the original actors weren't available or willing to re-read parts from 10 years ago. It does break the immersion a bit.

But it's the engaging gameplay that will keep you glued to the screen. During combat, you can control only one character at a time, but you can tweak the AI of allies so that you're best matched up against your foe. To be clear, you can play all characters in your party, switching them out at will. The game also supports co-op (cooperative) play for up to four players, making it even more enjoyable. Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, and a couple other minor ones like sometimes bland fighting environments (that simply look like a large brown tarp), Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition has a ton going for it. Fans of real-time JRPGs should seriously consider this revamped game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of violence in Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition affected by the cartoonish visuals? Is there a disconnect between these visuals and the bloodier cutscenes throughout the game?

  • Are women portrayed as strong characters in the game or merely eye candy? Why do you think the designers portray female characters that way?

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