I’ve screamed from the mountaintops about this game for what feels like years and years, and finally, it’s like someone started listening. I’ve never been bashful about my feelings on Tales of Vesperia, an Xbox 360 game originally released way back in 2008. It’s one of my all time favorite games, and what’s most excellent about the Definitive Edition is it shows how much the title still holds up, made only better by what they’ve added.
But I’ve also talked about how Tales of Vesperia is the last in what feels like a bygone era of JRPGs. It comes back at a very important time, where games like Ni No Kuni 2 and Octopath Traveler are working their best to bring those older kinds of Japanese Role Playing back into the hearts and minds of the modern JRPG player, alongside more modern interpretations like Persona 5.
Vesperia was excellent in its time, and it still shows now, with modern sensibilities, a delightful cast of characters, and a slow to start combat system that very gracefully evolves into endless possibilities as the game progresses. The big things added to this Definitive Edition are two new characters, one entirely new to the story, and the other being a central character of the story who now joins your teams and multiple moments through the game. Patty, the new character, and Flynn, the returning one, are incredibly well integrated into the story, so folks who had played Vesperia before won’t feel completely shaken to see them in scenes throughout the story.
To combat weird plot holes and to flesh out the story for these new characters, additional scenes and small dungeon areas were added to the already 70+ hour story, and they do a great job of integrating these new characters while also fleshing out things that were a bit more mysterious in the original title.
It’s all excellent, and easily the strength of the DE for any returning players, but with this coming out almost 10 years after this Definitive Edition was originally released on the PS3 with all this new content, the localization takes a pretty noticeable hit. Many voice actors do not return for the English VO, and any new scene or scene with new lines feature new voice actors trying their best to fill shoes of folk like Troy Baker. The voice actors who return noticeably sound different, and the entire audio balance for some of the new VO is noticeably of lower quality. It’s a massive hit to the game that I can’t imagine anyone not noticing if you decide to play the game with English voice over.
Here is an example of the voice acting, thank you to RGL Gaming for the video!
It’s frustrating because I don’t think there was any other way to get this version out. It’s an excellent game that more people should play, just know it has some of this baggage with it.
What’s really important about this game is how well it tells its story. It makes 70 hours fly by with an amazing cast of characters, very cool and diverse sidequests, and what feels like the most ambitious world the Tales team has ever created. It’s about as self-involved as any infamous JRPG is, with it’s own jargon that tends to get in its own way more than it helps establish a universe. Words like “blastia” and “Entelexeia” are all over the dialogue, and for me, it’s always given a very fun and fantastical vibe to the world in Vesperia.
The seven main characters grow to nine here, and they all get their time in the sun. What’s great about the new additions to Vesperia is how the new characters interact with some of the quieter party members as the story goes on. This leads to more wholesome moments, and it helps justify a larger team in the game—nine is massive for any JRPG party—with a much clearer bond between certain characters. The cast cares for one another, and the weight of their journey is well established as things get more and more challenging.
This is also a long game in the sense of a late 1990s JRPG. It has you exploring a massive world map, building up to getting some kind of airship, and then scouring the world map for secrets and hidden locations. There are a ton to find, and there are layered quests through Vesperia’s three massive acts, that all collide in the finale for small payoffs across your exploration of Terca Lumireis. It’s a lot more traditional side-quest design, with the player being rewarded for talking to every character in every village, backtracking, listening closely to what your party members say at certain points in the story. It’s quite vague at times, but the satisfaction gleamed from beating some of these sidequests is some of the best in its class.
Vesperia is the full package, and I still can’t recommend it enough. I think it is the best of the Tales games, blending many of the ideas from the golden age of Tales (the Symphonia and Abyss era) into something a bit tighter, more fresh, with an amazing art style and the best story the franchise has crafted. It’s a shame the localization took a hit for us to see all the new content, but it’s still worth it to see one of the very best world-map-era, 90s style Japanese Role Playing Games out there.