Tales of VesperiaTales of Vesperia is an action Japanese role-playing game (RPG) developed by Namco for Xbox 360 and then extended and ported to Playstation 3. It is the 10th mothership title in the Tales of series released in both Japan and the West, though the PS3 version was Japan-only. The game takes place in Terca Lumireis, where people rely on ancient technology called blastia for daily tasks, protection and abilities to fight. The protagonist is Yuri Lowell, a resident of the Lower Quarter of the capital that is dissatisfied with the class system of the Empire. After helping Princess Estellise escape from the castle, Yuri sets off on a journey to find the one responsible for stealing the lower quarter's aqua blastia and to help Estelle find his childhood friend Flynn. With rising tensions between the Empire and the Union and corruption within both, Yuri, Estelle and their new friends come across many problems they cannot ignore in their travels. Tales of Vesperia is a story of justice and identity, as the party struggles to decide who they are, what is right, and ultimately how save the world from destruction.
Important CharactersThe following characters are those that play important roles in Raven's story and character development during the game. Please note that these purposely do not include characters from Empty Mask, as they are not spoiler-free. Raven's relationships with these characters are explored in more detail in the analysis section.
Yuri Lowell is the main protagonist in Tales of Vesperia. He originally joined the Imperial Knights with his childhood friend, Flynn, but quit soon after because he couldn't agree with an Empire that doesn't protect and help all of its people. Yuri is a loner but cares greatly for others. He also has a strong sense of justice and is willing to do what is needed to uphold his beliefs, even if it makes him a criminal. He holds the party together and helps Karol in the creation of Brave Vesperia.
Estellise "Estelle" Sidos Heurassein is the princess of the imperial throne who escapes the castle with Yuri in order to warn Flynn of impending danger. Estelle is "book smart," but lacks knowledge of the world around her that can't be found in books. Her mysterious power to use healing artes without a blastia proves to be both an asset and a curse. Though stubborn and strong-willed, Estelle struggles with her identity and choosing the right path for herself.
Repede is a long-time companion of Yuri and friend of Flynn. He follows Yuri wherever he goes and is incredibly loyal and brave. Repede is certainly not your average "dog," as he carries a human pipe in his mouth and has the ability to use knives and artes. He is a bit aloof (especially to Estelle), but comes to care about the rest of the party as comrades throughout their travels together.
Karol Capel is a young guild member known for joining the most guilds (which is not a good reputation). He is very knowledgeable about monsters and the workings of guilds, but is quick to runaway when things get tough because he is afraid. Karol was most recently a member of the Hunting Blades guild, but they disown him because of his cowardice. Karol greatly looks up to Yuri and is thrilled to create Brave Vesperia with his help.
Rita Mordio is a famed mage and researcher from Aspio. She loves blastia and treats them like living creatures despite only being ancient technology. She adores her research and is willing to get hurt herself in order to further it. Rita is quick-tempered, foul-mouthed and generally distrusts people. However, she slowly warms up to Estelle and the others and ultimately joins them in their travels.
Judith is a member of the Kritya tribe on a mission to destroy Hermes blastia. She travels with her Entelexeia friend, Ba'ul, and eventually joins the party in their travels. Judith is mature, flirtatious and often a voice of reason for the others. Though initially secretive about her past and reasoning behind destroying blastia, she comes to both trust the party and gain their trust as time goes forward. Judith is a member of Brave Vesperia.
Patty Fleur is a young, self-proclaimed descendant of Aifread, a famous pirate in the world of Terca Lumireis. She lost her memories and is in search of any clues that will link her with her lineage. Patty is very fond of Yuri and often makes comments alluding to her crush on him. She is a PS3 exclusive character that ultimately joins the party in her search for Aifread and her past.
Flynn Scifo is a high-ranking member of the Imperial Knights and a childhood friend of Yuri's. He is a model knight and strives to make the world a better place by protecting citizens and doing what is right. Flynn also has a strong sense of justice and isn't fond of Yuri's vigilante tendencies because he believes in upholding the law above all else. He greatly looks up to Commandant Alexei and follows his orders without second thought.
Don Whitehorse AKA "the Don" is the leader of both Altosk and the Union, which makes him the head of all the guilds. Rightfully so, as he was the one who united them all in order to take a stand against the Empire. The Don possesses great strength and is well-respected by more individuals than not. Raven is his right-hand man and does many tasks in his place because he is not often able to leave Dahngrest himself.
Harry is the Don's grandson. He is naive and impulsive, but cares a lot about his grandfather. He doesn't seem to talk very much and comes off as rather aloof to the party. Raven has known him since Harry was a child and often looks out for him to try to keep him out of trouble.
Alexei Dinoia is the Commandant and leader of the Imperial Knights. Since the passing of the previous emperor he and the Council make up the current government. Alexei is greatly respected by the Imperial Knights and has his own personal army called the Royal Guard. For some reason, he personally retrieves Raven from the Zaphias prison...
Yeager is the mysterious leader of the guild named Leviathan's Claw. His motives are often unclear because he both assists and antagonizes the party. In the Japanese version, he speaks in a mix of Japanese and English, whereas in the English version he has a German accent. Raven and Yeager appear to know each other. However, it is not initially clear how their pasts intertwine.
Duke Pantarei is a hero of noble birth who fought on the side of the humans with his friend Elucifer during the Great War ten years before the story. He is reserved and mysterious, but seems to aid the party on a number of occasions. Duke is the wielder of the sword Dein Nomos. Raven seems to have a history with Duke as he is the one who tells the party his name, but again, their history is not made explicit.
GameplayThe gameplay in Tales of Vesperia expands on the series' original linear motion battle system, now called evolved flex-range linear motion battles. Characters can move linearly as well as free run around the screen in combat. Although travel on the map is limited to one player, two players (or up to four if playing the Xbox version) are able to participate in battles. Otherwise, the computer controls the remaining two or three characters based on strategy settings designated by the player. Although the party can include up to nine characters, only four of them are active in battle at a time. The characters have both regular attacks as well as a number of physical/magic/healing artes they can learn through leveling up and by combining certain skills with specific artes. The game utilizes the standard HP and MP—the later is consumed when using artes. Tales of Vesperia also introduces burst artes, in which a character can use one over limit bar to use a special arte following one of their normal artes, as well as fatal strikes, which triggers an instant kill on standard enemies or a great deal of damage on bosses. Additionally, the characters are able to perform continuous attacks and cast artes without any casting time during over limit. The characters also have their own mystic artes that can be used with an over limit bar of three or higher.
Review & OpinionsI will be perfectly honest and say that I was not originally impressed by Tales of Vesperia. At all. I actually stopped playing it for a few months because I didn't care for any of the characters and the story was pretty lackluster. I ended up being interested in Judith and decided to pick the game up once more. Although I personally do not find Tales of Vesperia to be Namco's best in the series (largely because of the story and lack of character development overall), I did come to really enjoy the gameplay. In fact, I think Vesperia has my favorite battle mechanics in addition to my favorite graphics in the series. The extended PS3 version helps with character development a little, but unfortunately most of the development and backstories are found in external sources such as drama CDs, novels and manga. Now that I have a better understanding of some of those sources I can appreciate the characters more than I did when simply playing through the game. That being said, I know Namco has the capacity to create well-developed characters within the game itself because of previous games like Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss. So, I was pretty disappointed players had to buy additional materials to know even a standard backstory about some of the characters. Other characters just don't receive any backstory despite having personality traits that would suggest otherwise and hints of there being more in the game.
Would I recommend playing Tales of Vesperia to others? Absolutely. I have fun playing the game in terms of the mechanics, music and graphics. The characters are also cute. I've even played the game multiple times! I certainly do not hate the game by any means and think of it as an important part of my Tales of series experience. However, I will be the first to admit that it has a number of flaws for someone who enjoys games more for their plot and characterization. If you are looking to have some fun, like at least one of the other Tales of series games and go into the game not expecting a fantastic story, I think Tales of Vesperia can be very enjoyable.
• Battle mechanics—artes, skills and new additions are enjoyable
• Music is great
• Graphics are my favorite in the series
• Lack of overall character development
• You need to purchase additional materials for the full story
• Weak plot—not tied together well and a handful of plot holes