Operation Backlog Completion 2017
Jun 212017

After my excitement for Tales of Zestiria changed to utter disappointment, I was a bit wary of the next Tales game.

However, Tales of Berseria is not only leagues better than Zestiria, it’s an excellent game that even tries to patch up Zestiria’s worldbuilding, since they’re set in the same universe.

In fact, Berseria often feels like it was written as an answer to Zestiria’s criticism.

All those loose ends in the lore? Several find a home in Berseria. The ever-changing explanations of malevolence? Berseria picks a simpler one and sticks with it. Zestiria’s “angel of death” seraphim? Berseria uses the concept for more than a throwaway scene. The gun? It gets a better explanation here than Zestiria’s non-answer.

And if Zestiria’s bizarre, inconsistent morality bothered you, you should be pleased with Berseria. It might seem ironic, since Velvet is motivated by revenge and selfishness, but her morality is handled much better than Sorey and Rose’s.

Overall, even though Tales of Berseria is the “darker” game, it ends up feeling more positive and optimistic than Zestiria.

Click for Zestiria and Berseria spoilers

But enough comparing it to Zestiria, let’s look at it on its own.

Berseria’s cast is entertaining and enjoyable, and its villains also take an excellent role. I generally liked the characters and wanted to see how everything would work out. Skits have a new style this time, with fuller sprites instead of just portraits, which gives them more life and lets them work for more important conversations. There are plenty of humorous moments alongside its darker themes, and the plot was entertaining with a few twists I didn’t see coming.

It also has several different types of mini-games, as well as some excellent side quests.

Click for Zestiria spoilers, yes, Zestiria

That’s not to say Berseria is perfect. It has a few annoyances, such as a few set phrases and ideas the characters like to bring up over and over and over. One would have been fine, but with so many, it starts to feel silly.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the combat system, either, where the number of attacks you can perform depends on your “souls,” which you can gain or lose based on what you do in battle. It was fine, but I’d like to see the next Tales game return to a simpler system.

Tales of Berseria is a strong answer to Zestiria’s problems, as well as a great JRPG in its own right. Zestiria left me unhappy with the series, but Berseria has redeemed it.

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May 292017

Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory studio has updated its website with a new image.

This image (pictured right) shows a grassy cliff very different from the snowy landscape of their first game, I Am Setsuna. Tokyo RPG Factory was formed to work on smaller, more traditional RPGs. Could this be a hint as to their next game?

I Am Setsuna had a lot of potential. In my review for MonsterVine, I mentioned that the game seemed like it should have been longer. I enjoyed its characters and gameplay, but the ending felt rushed.

When I played it, I reached a point where I expected it to expand into the story’s next arc and make use of the hints I’d seen in the worldbuilding and side quests of a bigger picture. Instead, it raced through a few new plot points toward a sudden conclusion.

At the time, I wished they had a large enough budget to make a longer game. I also worried that I Am Setsuna’s mixed reception might mean they wouldn’t make anything else.

My second concern seems to be resolved. That image suggests Tokyo RPG Factory has a new game planned, maybe to be announced at E3. Will it be set in I Am Setsuna’s universe? Will it be something entirely new?

Whatever it is, I hope it keeps turn-based combat and traditional JRPG gameplay, including a world map… but I especially hope it’s a long enough game to tell a good story without feeling rushed.

Update: Tokyo RPG Factory has announced Lost Sphear for the PS4, Switch, and PC, an RPG about rebuilding the world with the power of Memory before it disappears forever.

Did you play I Am Setsuna? What do you hope to see from Tokyo RPG Factory’s next game?

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May 262017

Today, Square Enix set the Internet on fire with a financial briefing in which they outlined their future plans.

This outline included three games planned for “FY2018/3 and beyond,” Kingdom Hearts 3, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and a Marvel game. They “plan to launch each of these upcoming titles in the next three years or so.”

Somehow, fans have taken this to mean Kingdom Hearts 3 and the Final Fantasy VII Remake won’t be out for three years.

But that’s not what Square Enix said at all!

First, these are their plans starting from fiscal year 2018. That means games on the slide could be released in 2018.

Second, these games will be released “in the next three years or so.” In other words, they’ll be released within three years, not necessarily three years from now.

Finally, the slide refers to “a robust pipeline from which 1-2 blockbuster titles as well as multiple mid-size titles are constantly launched every year.” If they hope to release 1-2 blockbuster titles every year, it makes sense that the blockbuster titles listed on the same slide could be among them.

In short, Square Enix did NOT say we have to wait 3 years for Kingdom Hearts 3 or the Final Fantasy VII Remake (or the Marvel game). This news does NOT mean these games won’t be out until then.

Instead, it means these games should be out in 2018, 2019, or 2020. One could come out each of those three years, even.

Update: According to DualShockers, a more accurate translation of the Japanese statement is: “We plan to launch them sequentially over the next three years or so.” That makes the one-per-year scenario even more likely.

Many people have chosen to interpret this announcement in the most pessimistic way, but I don’t think that’s how it was intended. I know I’ve been mistaken before (I never expected Final Fantasy XV’s structure would be so odd), but there’s no need to panic. This news doesn’t rule out a 2018 Kingdom Hearts 3 release date by any means.

I hope Square Enix provides more information at E3, maybe even with more specific windows for their upcoming games. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even get a solid release date.

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