Tales of Vesperia has garnered a reputation as a beloved RPG within the gaming community. Praised for its dynamic combat system, engaging narrative, and memorable characters, the game has carved out a special place in the hearts of both seasoned RPG enthusiasts and newcomers to the genre. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a Tales of Vesperia Review: A blast(ia) to play!
Battle System - 10
Like most Tales games, Tales of Vesperia has an elite battle system. First of all, every character plays so differently. Yuri plays like a very unconventional physical attacker, carrying his personality into every move. This contrasts Flynn, who plays like a typical, knightly Tales protagonist but with some extra White Magic as a bonus. There's Estelle, a White Mage, but since she's well-trained with a sword, she feels unique and fun to play as. Next is Karol, a slow tank with a variety of supporting moves and phenomenal magic spells to completely wipe out enemies, and Raven, a long-ranged attacker and magic utility unit. Last but not least are Judith and Patty, the former an aerial unit that has a fantastically fun skillset and the second a jack-of-all-trades, master of none character who can cast magic, shoot guns, cook, play Mahjong, and more. Second of all, this game continues to build up fantastic new elements as the game progresses, fleshing out the system into something exceptional. From Over Limit to Burst Artes to Mystic Artes, everything just blends perfectly here. However, a singular element of this battle system makes it unforgettable and unrelentingly fun—Fatal Strikes. I adored this system, as it made battles so much more strategic and less monotonous, giving the player something to focus on besides depleting the enemy's health. While a simple concept, they single-handedly reinvented the battle system in a way that kept me eternally engaged, even in dungeons that dragged on like the Labyrinth of Memories and the Necropolis of Nostalgia. Third of all, it's just so fast-paced, an excellent Tales battle system, and the Grade system is as awesome as ever—and there are secret missions in every boss fight, adding another extra level of depth! Overall, this game has a fantastic battle system, and it is one of my favorites of all time.
Story - 10
This game had a phenomenal story that always kept me on my feet. What I loved so much was the awesomely consistent pacing (for the most part), worldbuilding, and the three incredibly distinct and equally fantastic story arcs. I loved how each story arc felt separate yet still phenomenally set up the next arc. From the first arc, being about saving the aque blastia, to the second, attempting to stop a cataclysmic event, to the third, saving the world from a unique and justified final boss, this game builds an incredible story that constantly builds to become something utterly spectacular and unforgettable. Every character has a meaningful arc, and the conflict between the Empire and the guilds never ceased to impress me. This game kept me hooked almost every minute of the way, and for that, this story deserves a perfect 10.
Music - 9
The boss themes, battle themes, town themes, field themes... everything here was so memorable, with my absolute favorite being the Oath of the Guilds, the background track for Dahnghrest. Motoi Sakuraba and Shinji Tamura knocked it out of the park with a phenomenal soundtrack—perhaps my favorite in the series! While this isn't a top-tier soundtrack in my mind, it's pretty close, and for that, it deserves a 9 out of 10.
Art & Graphics - 10
Like many Tales games, this game has phonemic timeless graphics that have not aged in any way of the word. These anime-like graphics do a great job of staying fresh and never aging, something many other games of the era didn't handle very well. When you think of older games that tried to look realistic, they usually looked pretty horrible because they were limited by graphical capabilities, but the commitment to his beautiful style makes this a game that's beautiful to behold.
Characters - 10
I've said it many times and will say it again: this is my favorite cast of characters in any RPG I've ever played. I even wrote an article just discussing these fantastic characters! From Yuri, a very atypical RPG protagonist with profound and interesting motivations, to his best friend and rival, Flynn, who has interesting motives that always contrast Yuri's motives; from Estelle, a sheltered yet lovable character from the capital, to Karol, a kid who develops so much from an estranged member of the Hunting Blades to founding Brave Vesperia; from Rita, a character that has some of the most nuanced growth I've ever seen in a game, to Raven, a funny (albeit incredibly questionable) old man with an intriguing past; form Judith, an interesting character who has motives similar to the main villain, to Patty, a character with no relevance to the main plot, but a character with a fabulous side story—this game has a perfect cast. And, of course, there's Repede, a great doggo side character. Overall, this game has some fantastic characters that I will never forget the time I spent with.
Locations - 8
I loved all of the beautiful towns and dungeons in this game! They all were very well utilized in the plot and made me fall in love with the world. However, when held up against other Tales games, this game isn't quite as good at developing realistic feeling areas and locales. Compared to Tales of Symphonia, these towns only have a couple of screens, making them feel a little too suppressed and unreal. However, the dungeons were well-themed, engaging, and best of all? Simple. There is no BS like in Tales of Symphonia this time—just a lot of cool atmospheres, bosses, and enemies. Some of the best dungeons included each of the final dungeons of the three arcs, the two bonus dungeons, Erealumen Crystallands, Caer Bocram, Heracles, and Baction—these all struck a good balance of interesting but not infuriating. As a whole, this game had some fantastic locations, but many of them needed to be much more fleshed out.
Sidequests - 10
Outside of the awful Dog Map quest, every sidequest in this game was just incredible: with awesome bonus dungeons, a fantastic casino, beautifully written skits to watch, guild quests, cooking, coliseum battles, snowboarding, collecting the Fell Arms, and Secret Missions, everything here is just a blast. And on top of that, quite a few quests add to the plot, which is epic! In the end, this game had some great sidequests and some of my favorite in recent memory.
Customization System - 10
Wow. This customization system was utterly phenomenal! The amount of synthesizable equipment, skills, arts, and accessories that you can utilize? This makes the game so personalized and a blast to play. And on a subsequent playthrough? Through the grade shop, you can equip all of your most broken skills for 1 SP, allowing you to have even more fun and replayable chaos with this system. Ultimately, this system is everything Final Fantasy IX set about to be but so much better.
Quality of Life - 5
Like many Tales games, this game has obscenely obscure sidequest triggers and title earning, making you resort to a guide or play far too many playthroughs to discover anything! The infamous Brionac side quest is a testament to just how off the rails this game can become. There are also so many missable guild quests, items, and enemy encounters here. However, outside of missable content, this game is very well-polished—but since that missable content might force subsequent playthroughs, that docks quite a few points from this game.
Fun Factor: 9
Overall Score: 91%
Letter Rating: S+
Tales of Vesperia is not only a quintessential Tales experience but also one of the best RPGs of all time. It took everything I loved about Tales of Symphonia and morphed it into a much more captivating and well-polished experience. If you haven't given this masterpiece a try, I highly recommend it to any gamer willing to give it a try—you'll most definitely find something to love here, and you might find it to be one of your new favorite RPGs!
Interested in checking out this masterpiece and supporting our website? Check out one of the links below :) The Definitive Edition is the best version by far, but if you don't have modern consoles, the other versions are still great!
Primary Version: Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (Xbox One)