Tales of Vesperia focuses on Yuri Lowell, your typical cool, sarcastic hero, who was once a knight, but has since grown disenchanted with the unscrupulous Empire in which he lives. Instead, he has turned to vigilantism, and in his pursuance of his own definition of justice, he’s drawn into a world-traversing journey in order to (of course) save the world.
The game’s plot, truth be told, is not terribly important to the overall game; the story meanders vaguely from one goal to the next, held together by several overarching themes. The game explores several moral dilemmas, pitting different philosophies against one another. However, the real point is the characters and their relationships with one another. Some of the characters can be reduced to clichés, but that doesn’t stop the majority of them from being highly entertaining. The majority of the characters are realistic and captivating, and the game’s silly sense of humor is definitely one of the most memorable elements of the game.
The battle system in Tales of Vesperia is deeply engaging. The Tales series has always featured great battle systems, and Vesperia builds upon the earlier games’ expertise. Speaking from personal experience, Vesperia is the first Tales game in which I had no trouble at all playing characters other than the main hero, and further the first game in which I actually found myself looking forward to battles.
As with the previous games, the amount of optional material in Tales of Vesperia is impressive. For the first time in an English-language Tales game, players can enjoy skits (short, skippable scenes of character interaction) with full voice acting. There are numerous sidequests, some brief and some spanning across the entire game, as well as several hidden locations to explore. Some of the sidequests give access to new costumes for the characters to wear, which can be further customized with accessories (called Attachments) on top of those.
Tales of Vesperia, like all games, has its shortcomings, but is a very welcome addition to a fantastic video game series. It is equally accessible to old fans and newcomers to the Tales series, and is highly recommended to any RPG fan.