Tales of Berseria (Japanese: テイルズ オブ ベルセリア, Hepburn: Teiruzu Obu Beruseria) is a Japanese-style action role-playing video game developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sixteenth main entry in the Tales series and a prequel of Tales of Zestiria. It was released in Japan for PlayStation 3 & PlayStation 4 in mid-August 2016, and was released worldwide for PlayStation 4 & Microsoft Windows in late January 2017. A manga adaptation of this game was serialized on Ichijinsha’s Monthly Comic Book Magazine since October 2016.
Tales of Berseria is a role-playing video game, where players navigate the game’s world through the game’s characters from a third-person perspective. As with previous Tales games, characters can interact through Skits, animated clips that play outside cutscenes and battle: characters are represented by head-and-shoulder portraits, and conversations can range from serious to comedic. New to the series’ Skit systems is a cut-in effect, where at certain moments within skits characters in various poses will appear in response to the dialogue.
As with previous Tales titles, the game uses a variation of the Linear Motion Battle System (LMBS). Berseria’s version is dubbed the “Liberation-LMBS”: when in the battle zone, players can freely move around the arena and rotate the camera at will. Characters fight using physical and magical attacks, along with performing skills known as Artes that have various effects on enemies such as stunning them or causing status ailments. Artes can be directly mapped to different control buttons. Abilities outside attacking include guarding against attacks, side-stepping around opponents, and escaping from battle.
A key element in battles is the Soul Gauge, which replaces the move-governing mechanics of earlier Tales games: each character has a separate gauge showing up to five Souls, which are used up when Artes are used. While characters can still attack with a depleted Soul Gauge, their attacks can be easily deflected by enemies, but the Soul Gauge automatically recharges with time. Souls are dropped by enemies in battle that can be “stolen” to refill the gauge, a mechanic that enemies can also use to steal Souls from the player. If enough of the Soul Gauge is full characters can activate unique states called the Break Soul, where they can exceed their combo limit and bring unique effects into battle: for instance, Velvet’s Break Soul triggers her arm to become bestial and different elemental attacks are triggered depending on enemy type.
The main party consists of four characters, which can all be assigned as the controlled character during battle, with the other available playable characters held in reserve. While primarily designed for single-player, local multiplayer for battles is supported. A mechanic called the Switch Blast can be used when changing characters: by consuming a portion of the Blast Gauge, the controlled party member switches out for a reserve member, who delivers a free attack. The Blast Gauge is also depleted by performing power attacks called Mystic Artes.