Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia review – JRPG classic gets update fans have been waiting for (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

Regarded by many as the high point in the series, Tales of Vesperia was originally released as an Xbox 360 exclusive back in 2008.

But even if you played through that version to completion, the newly released Definitive Edition will have plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Out now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PCs, the Tales remaster was released to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Bandai Namco adventure.

Besides upscaling the gorgeous cel-shaded style graphics, the Definitive Edition offers extra content that will be new to fans of the original.

A year after the initial launch of Tales of Vesperia on Xbox 360, an enhanced PS3 port was released – but only in Japan.

This brought with it new playable characters and full voice acting which was missing from the original.

The Definitive Edition includes these extra playable characters as well as recordings for all the missing dialogue from the initial Western release.

It undoubtedly lives up to its ‘definitive’ tagline and there are plenty of reasons for new and returning fans to jump into the much-loved Tales game.

Vesperia follows a group of rag tag heroes who band together to retrieve a precious energy resource stolen from the poor.

While the story at first glance may sound like typical JRPG fare, what brings it alive is the characters you encounter along the way and their dynamic.

From loveable rogue and protagonist Yuri, to the sheltered and sweet Estelle – these characters may initially seem like stock archetypes.

But they boast plenty of depth, surprising character traits and have an interplay with one another full of chemistry that makes them burst with life.

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia review – Tales of Vesperia is a gorgeous looking game (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

Little vignettes like the skits, which often shows charming and hilarious dialogue between party members, all help endear the player to the cast.

The characters are expertly crafted as are the visuals – even being over 10 years, the world of Vesperia still looks gorgeous to this day.

There are plenty of rich, colourful, vibrant locales in the world of Terca Lumireis which are simply a joy to just wander around and explore.

Cel shaded-style visuals stand the test of time far better than their polygonal counterparts.

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia review – Vesperia has a great cast of characters (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

And we can imagine ten years from now Tales of Vesperia still won’t be a slouch in the eye-candy department.

One area where Vesperia does arguably shows its age is in the battle system, which is a mix of 2D and 3D fighting.

Press a trigger button and you’ll be able to run around a playing field in 3D, like you’d be able to do in action RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles.

However, in this 3D arena players are limited to dash attacks and once you release the trigger button it’s back to the default 2D fights.

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia review – Vesperia has a great cel-shaded like visual style (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

This is where the bulk of your fighting will be done as you lock onto and duke it out with one enemy at a time.

But this half-way house, mish-mash of different battle systems means it neither fully masters one.

The 2D battles can at times feel cumbersome and clunky, while moving around in 3D doesn’t tend to be fluid or precise enough.

That’s not to say battles in Tales of Vesperia are a chore – far from it.

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia review – Vesperia has a combat system which takes cues from brawlers like Tekken (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

Fights are always fun thanks to its action-orientated approach which takes cues from brawlers like Tekken or Virtua Fighter.

Battles in Vesperia never feel like a grind – but also don’t feel as tight an experience as other JRPGs.

This quibble aside, Tales of Vesperia is a game that every JRPG fan should play.

Tales of Vesperia

Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition is out on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PCs (Image: BANDAI NAMCO)

It’s a charming, heartfelt and endearing title that can hold its head up high alongside the other Japanese role playing game greats.

If you have your pick of systems to choose from, we would recommend the Nintendo Switch version.

It looks great in handheld or docked mode, and the generously spread out save points are perfect for dipping in and out of it while playing on a commute.

VERDICT: 4/5