Tales Of Zestiria, developed and published by Bandai Namco, is the newest addition to the series. Om was released on PS3 and PS4 on October 16, and then on Steam on October 20. This episode is the fifteenth in the Tales Of series and was announced in 2013 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary.
The legend of the "Shepherds" ...
In a time of myth now gone, when darkness threatened to engulf the world, it brought out the light of nothingness. Every time the world plunged into chaos, this legend came back to everyone's lips and the people prayed for their salvation. Each time, a Shepherd appeared to conquer the darkness once more. But once peace returned, the Shepherds always ended up disappearing. Where did they go ? No one really knows.
Like everything, they ended up becoming a simple legend.
This is how Tales Of Zestiria places us at the helm of Sorey, a young human living in a village of Seraph. Raised by them, he is one of the (very) rare humans endowed with the resonance, an ability that allows humans to see and hear the Seraphim, magical beings. Seraphim are linked to one or more elements (fire, water, earth, wind) and are considered deities by humans.
Sorey has spent his entire life living with the Seraphim until one day he meets a young human while exploring ruins. Subsequently, Sorey decides to go with Mikleo, Water Seraph and our hero's best friend, to explore the world. This is how Sorey finally becomes the new one Berger.
The Shepherd is a human who has made a pact with a Seraph having the ability to purification, allowing it to purify and / or kill the helions, beings who are born and feed on malevolence gathered by humans, animals or even by seraphim.
This is how our journey and our quest begins: to travel the world in order to purify it of all malevolence and destroy its source which has taken shape in the form of Lord of Calamities.
The story, although quite classic with its fight of good against evil, is deeper than it seems. The game prompts the player to question what is really right or wrong. Is doing good necessarily for the best and will it really bring good? Where will it bring more misfortune? Is killing really immoral and evil, both for the person who kills and for the person killed? Many questions that will be asked and brought up throughout the adventure and which will pose many dilemmas for both the characters and the players.
It is therefore at the controls of Sorey that the player will have to travel, explore and discover the world. The universe of Tales Of Zestiria is quite large and varied. We travel through plains, caves, mountains, swamps, deserts and many other environments.
The world, without being a real open world, however offers quite large maps and regions. These are full of different places to explore and many secrets to discover. Treasures, points of interest, rare and powerful monsters, secrets, the areas are relatively rich in discoveries.
The game is full of side (and optional) quests as well as various secrets and discoveries to be made. It is therefore strongly recommended that you talk to all the NPCs, as they will give you important information such as rumors about a rare and powerful helion having attacked in a region, the location of ruin or information on events which may seem trivial, but which will trigger side quests.
During your adventure, equipment will be of utmost importance. It is indeed possible to merge equipment of the same type in order to improve their basic statistics, but also to add various abilities such as, for example, increasing damage or defense against a certain type of attack, giving chances to stun, reducing effects harmful, give beneficial effects, etc.
Outside of combat, your characters will also have some very valuable abilities. Called support talents, these allow you to obtain various bonuses and effects. It will, for example, make it possible to regularly obtain snacks (food allowing you to heal yourself outside of combat and giving bonuses for future combats, such as an increase in defense, attacks, etc.) treasures and points of interest, to move faster, to be healed, or even to place special orders from merchants or even attract specific monsters to attack you.
During the adventure, you will also be able to unlock Lords of the earth. They can grant you very good bonuses applicable to the region in which they are located. You will be able to give offerings (equipment, item, etc.) to the Lord of the Earth in order to increase his level and unlock new abilities. Once high enough, they can even sanctify your equipment, which will have the effect of doubling the effect of the first ability present on the latter (provided that the equipment in question has reached at least rank 10 of fusion).
But what would the stats be if your character didn't have the bonus class? It is possible to customize appearance of all the characters. Many costumes are available, but also many accessories: glasses, hats, small mascots, stuffed animals, belts ... It is also possible to configure them as you see fit, size, location, colors.
Unlike the previous installments in the series, the fights will take place in the same area where they are triggered directly on the map. You will not be "transported" into a combat zone, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage as the scenery and landforms can save your life as well as hinder you.
A small problem is still present because it sometimes happens, and especially in rather narrow or closed places, that the camera blocks or gives a very reduced field of vision, making the combat and the action very difficult to perceive.
Other than that, the fights are quite similar to previous Tales Of, based on martial arts, mystics and combos. Dodges and blockages are also present. The fights feature 4 characters that can be controlled in a way automatic, semi-automatic or totally manuelle. The team is divided into two groups each comprising a human and a seraph who can be changed at will during combat. The player controls Sorey by default but can take control of any other human or seraph in the party as they see fit. The other characters will behave the way you defined their combat strategy.
In addition, even if you have configured your teammates in automatic, it is however possible to give quick orders during combat, such as asking them to prioritize defense, attacking the same enemy, each attacking a different enemy or even trying to group enemies together to launch area attacks on them.
It is possible to fuse a human character with a Seraph, thus granting more powers, new Martial and Mystic Artes and devastating attacks. However, be careful, depending on the enemies you are fighting, it is sometimes recommended not to merge.
The enemies will all have various strengths and weaknesses: elementary, physical or type of attack (martial or mystic). It will therefore be necessary, in each fight, to adapt (and adapt the formation of the group) according to the enemy (s) in front. Some enemies very quickly fall under a few combos of martial attacks while the enemy next to them is totally unresponsive and you have to attack them with other combos of mystical art, or even merge with a seraph.
Once the fight is over, you will be entitled to a summary screen. Bigger damage, bigger combo, experience, sub and various items gained, duration of the fight, new skills unlocked, etc. as well as the number of points that you won. The latter is calculated according to your actions during combat and various parameters such as how you triumphed over enemies, whether or not you took damage, whether or not you exploited the enemy's weaknesses, etc.
Personally, I was seduced by Tales Of Zestiria. Despite the bad press that the latter had, he kept me going from start to finish. I put a little less than 70 p.m. to complete my first part. As is the custom in Tales Of, once the game is over, it is possible to start over by New Game + with many bonuses and effects (positive and negative) that you can select costing a certain number of points. You will have a certain number of points depending on the rank reached by each Lord of the earth. The higher a lord has a level, the more points you have and therefore, the more options you can select.
Plus, each completed New Game + lets you unlock another one, each time unlocking a whole new difficulty setting. It is therefore a very long lifespan which awaits you with this Tales Of Zestiria, being able to very easily exceed the 150, even the 200 hours of play. Especially if, like me, you like to realize all successes of a game.
You can pick up the game on Steam for the current price of 49,99 €. The game has several DLC, but these, except one and only story DLC which vaguely tells about what happens after the end of the game (which I find very secondary and dispensable) are completely optional and only serve bring cosmetics.