Game Review: Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (PS4)

It’s the “Tales of” game that many fans of the franchise have been asking for and after several years it has been revived onto current-gen consoles. So how does Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition shape up to some-one who has never played the original? Let’s take a look and find out.

Title: Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Platform: PS4
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese & English
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (23GB)

Our View:

Originally developed and released for the Xbox 360 in 2008, with its European release occurring a year later in 2009, Tales of Vesperia has been a fan-favourite within the Tales of community. Whether it be its colourful artistic style, its compelling storyline or its bountiful cast of characters the game charmed its way into the hearts of Xbox 360 players and now more than a decade after its original Japanese release the game has been re-mastered and re-released onto multiple platforms as part of this Definitive Edition of Tales of Vesperia.

Sadly despite owning an Xbox 360 at the time I never got chance to play the original variation of the game; but I do know it was famous amongst Tales of fans and was highly sought after on the Xbox 360 – as well as ports demanded on the PlayStation 3. In Japan Tales of Vesperia did receive a PlayStation 3 release, which took place a year after the Xbox 360 release, and many Tales of Fans demanded that this PlayStation 3 edition be released in the west; so much so that it even became a meme on Bandai Namco Entertainments social media channels. It has been many years since then and a PlayStation 3 version has still not been released in the west; but that is all in the pat now that this re-mastered experience is available for the PlayStation 4.

The history of Tales of Vesperia’s release, and in turn this anniversary styled Definitive Edition, are just as interesting as the events within the game itself but alas I will avoid any real spoilers so that the compelling nature of the story can be enjoyed first hand. Regardless Tales of Vesperia takes place within the fictional world of Terca Lumireis whereby residents of this world rely on the mysterious power of Blastia in order to protect themselves from monsters as well as power up various specialised objects within the world.

The story meanwhile follows the adventure(s) of Yuri Lowell who after taking it upon himself to fix a local Blastia in the town centre finds himself escorting princess Estelle around the world in search of Flynn, a character who is not only a knight of the kingdom but an old friend of Yuri. During this journey Yuri and Estelle encounter new allies, protect villages from being attacked and learn that things outside of the kingdom are not as peaceful as first thought. As interesting as this sounds this is only just the prelude to a bigger storyline and even after several hours into the game you’ll find the story taking a slightly different turn and a real enemy threat making its appearance.

This enemy threat, which in turn acts as the ‘real objective’ within the story of Tales of Vesperia sees Estelle kidnapped due to her unique abilities of being able to wield magic without a Blastia core as well as being able to convert magic energy. Spoiler’s aside the adventure begins anew with Yuri’s newly acquainted friends forming a guild in order to stop this new enemy threat and save Estelle from the hardships that follow; all the while remaining true to their core goals and objectives within the kingdom.

As with past Tales of games it is an interesting story and it is one that is played out through countless hours of dialogue and in-game cut-scenes; most of which are fully voiced in both English and Japanese. Unlike most Japanese orientated games, which opt to deliver the story in visual novel form, Tales of Vesperia’s story is presented through simplistic animated cut-scenes with additional dialogue appearing randomly throughout the game as simple character icons on screen. These ‘seemingly random’ dialogue moments can only be seen by pressing the button that appears on screen and can sometimes be easily missed; but it is a common trait of Tales of games to display the story in this fashion.

In terms of game play then Tales of Vesperia does things slightly different to recent incarnations of Tales of games. For the most part exploration is the same as more recent titles; but when exploring the town or dungeon only a limited area of exploration is presented and in most cases forces the player to go a specific route. In later titles players are able to navigate freely within both types of areas; but least we forget this game is ten years old so it can be forgiven for being a little restrictive in certain areas.

Of course while exploring these areas players can talk to characters, interact with objects and engage with enemies and as per usual RPG rules walking into an enemy will exploring a dungeon will trigger a battle scene. Despite being ten years old the combat feels refreshingly refined and simplistic to play; but at the same time does feel both limited and tedious to play.

Combat is played from a side-scrolling perspective and players only control the lead character, with Yuri being the obvious choice. Players can press two different attack buttons to chain attacks together to create combos while successful button combinations will result in special attacks being done. Alternatively magic attacks, once learned, can also be used and as per usual these will consume MP which can be refilled using healing magic or items obtained from the shop.

Compared to later instalments of Tales of games the combat does not feel as versatile and robust and as such battles become a bit tedious and boring. At one point I entirely lost interest in the combat and fought on only to enjoy the story and its colourful cast of characters. Whether it is the combat mechanics of this particular game, or how it is presented to the player in a 2.5D styled presentation, that I did not like remains to be seen; but at the very least offers something different to other JPRGs that are currently on the market.

Although players will only control one character in battle you can customise your character, squad and load out through the numerous menus accessible. Everything you would expect from a traditional JRPG can be found here with the exception of being able to make your own food. As part of progression you can learn new recipes either to further help you in the story (like making a sandwich) or to use resources found in making recover items. It’s a simple addition, and it be available in other Tales of games as well, but once again it is something different and brings a bit of charm to the game.

Speaking of charm the obvious highlight of this game is both the colourful design of this world and the characters that reside within it. Long-winded JRPG’s rely on interesting characters to keep players engaged and moving forward. It is a fine balance and once again the team at BANDAI NAMCO achieved this in Tales of Vesperia; but with thanks to the High Definition makeover these characters, and the world they reside within, look even better.

That is of course with one exception. Character dialogue between characters use character icons and these, at times, look hideous; sure enough they have undergone the re-mastering process –or have been complete reanimated – but at times they look nothing like the characters they are trying to represent. A slight oversight perhaps on what is overly polished experience; but it was released on the Xbox 360 so it didn’t need much polish to begin with.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition provides that definitive ‘Tales of Vesperia’ experience for a new generation of consoles but as with any JRPG brought back from the past it suffers from changes to its formula. These small niggles are outweighed but the visually appealing aesthetic that this re-mastered experience has to offer combined with its strong performances of voice artists and storytelling. If you’ve not had the chance to play Tales of Vesperia before than now would be the perfect time; especially if you have a large amount of time available to spare.

Score: review-stars-4

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC (via Steam).

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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