Tales of Zestiria released last week in Japan, but it seems as though some Japanese gamers aren’t completely satisfied with the game, and have voiced their opinions via Amazon reviews, where the game currently sits at two stars out of five.
[Spoiler alert: to fully understand why the game is getting such low ratings, you’ll need to know a bit of what happens in the game. If you wish to avoid spoilers, stop reading now.]
Before we continue, it bears mentioning that, as usual, one should take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt as they can vary from one opinion to the next. There are times when they’ve been used as a canvas for trolling—particularly when a change of platforms is involved—and there are also times when they’ve hit upon legitimate concerns that have made game developers take notice. (Such as in the case of Freedom Wars and Oreshika)
While there are many thoughts and opinions on Tales of Zestiria shared by Amazon reviewers, a large number of them pertain to the character Alisha, who has been advertised as a major part of the game. When Tales of Zestiria was first announced, Bandai Namco revealed Sorey as the game’s protagonist alongside Alisha as its heroine. However, as it turns out, in the actual game, Alisha is only playable for a temporary period of time, and to make matters worse, she then leaves the party for good. To make matters worse, Namco have announced a separate DLC episode that you can purchase to see a separate story featuring Alisha (which they will offer for free for a limited time).
It appears there are also issues with how Alisha’s character is handled in terms of writing and the way the other characters in the game interact with her.
One reviewer wrote, “Without a place for her in the country she loves, politicians were annoyed by her. She just wanted company, and was betrayed by the people she trusted. Whenever she had a complaint, the protagonist or other party members didn’t really do anything about it. Did Alisha kill the parents of the developers or something? It seemed like she was ‘bullied,’ both by the party members and the developers, and it was very unpleasant.”
“The main reason has got to be Alisha,” another reviewer wrote. “With the way [Bandai Namco] handled it prior to the release, and with all the DLC [for the entire party], you’d think that she would be playable all the way through, right? I’m not an Alisha fan by any means, but she’s an obedient, polite, and kind girl with a strong sense of responsibility, and solves her own problems. This girl was practically bullied by the group in conversations, and it was beyond unpleasant. Honestly, I just felt a lot of anger from watching that.”
According to many of the reviews, it seems like the game is just fine for the most part until Alisha leaves the party.
One reviewer stated that the first part of the game was centered around the kind and caring protagonist Sorey, and the hardworking heroine Alisha. Exploring the vast world with unique and reliable friends, understanding the relations between humans and the Divine. At least that’s how the story went.
“However, around the part where Alisha leaves, both the scenario and characters, kind of become weird,” one of the reviews reads. “The party members immediately begin discriminating between the difference in talent between Alisha and Rose after the latter barely joins the group. The kindness and part of the protagonist Sorey that was all about helping those in need completely went away, and he practically becomes an NPC character that follows Rose and friends.”
Rose only joins the party later on in the game, but many felt that the game abruptly starts to focus on her as a protagonist, while Sorey is only present to provide support. Meanwhile, the rest of the party constantly has nothing but nice things to say about Rose, but they also seem to have forgotten all about Alisha, who was their ally in the first half of the game.
Other reviewers stated how it was very odd that the party seemed rather indifferent about Alisha’s departure, yet they welcomed Rose with open arms, especially after Rose even admits to being an assassin, and Sorey simply shrugs it off. The inconsistency in how characters are written appears to be a sore point for some players.
Here’s another spoiler: another character in the game, Dezel, gets killed, and many felt that this was unnecessary—especially the way he died. However, what made matters worse about the departure of Alisha and Dezel was how the game still had DLC for the characters. If you buy the DLC for that character in particular without knowing, it’s basically tough luck for you.
Many reviewers stated that the game already felt like it was unfinished with the way Bandai Namco left out Alisha, but upon hearing about her upcoming DLC episode (which costs 1,300 yen to download), players felt as though they’ve been cheated out of buying a complete game from the get-go.
“More like Tales of Rozestiria,” one reviewer sarcastically remarked. Another review, titled “Alisha costs 1,300 yen,” joked: “Hurray!!! I can buy Alisha, who traveled with Sorey and the others, for just 1,300 yen! Go Bandai Namco! You guys are the best!” These are just some of the many quotes from reviewers after Bandai Namco announced the DLC episode.
Besides the issue regarding Alisha, the other frequently mentioned problem was about the game’s awkward camera angles during combat, but that doesn’t seem anywhere near as big of an issue as Alisha and the story.