Tales of Berseria puts players in an odd position. When it comes to Tales games, we’re usually following people that we can tell are absolutely, 100% in the right. Even if they’re rebels and seen as villainous in the eyes of the in-game government, everything they’re doing is clearly for the greater good. Things are different here. Instead, we follow an antihero out to fulfill her own selfish goals and a child that gets caught up in her endeavors due to his resemblance to her brother.
Editor’s note: there will be spoilers for events that happen within the first ten hours of Tales of Berseria.
Velvet is the sort of person that, in any other game, would be a perfect villain. The woman we adventure with for much of our adventure is quite different from the one we meet in the first hour of Tales of Berseria. The things she does are self serving and despicable. Once we see the therion she’s become, one who’s spent years confined in a prison, she’s at her worst. She initiates a prison riot as a distraction. It isn’t because she believes these humans and daemons deserve to be free; she wants to use them for her own selfish means. To prove she kills someone, she maims them, and at one point is willing to leave him to terrorize a town and possibly die, all so she can make a getaway. Instead of doing something to try to help a town that’s on the outskirts of a city protected by the Abbey, something that’d be a classic JRPG hero move, she passes through, gets what she needs, and doesn’t bother with them. Her battle style shows her uncontrollable behavior, with violent and aggressive moves with no formal training. She follows her impulses and is more than happy to let others fall by the wayside if it means she’ll get closer to killing Artorius.
Laphicet is the perfect contrast to Velvet. He’s a blank slate. An innocent Malakim, he was enslaved by Teresa, one of Abbey’s Praetors. Velvet basically abducts him, an act that’s somewhat kind, since she did so to save him from killing her on Teresa’s orders in a kamikaze attack. He starts out as nothing. His emotions were sealed away upon being used as a tool by the Exorcists. He obeys others’ orders blindly, even if it could mean his own death. Yet, even though he is this total innocent with little to no will of his own, there’s goodness in him. He heals Velvet, Rokurou, and Magilou without any directive, all because he saw they were hurt. He’s very quiet and shy, but eventually develops this desire to help others.
You couldn’t find two people with two different personalities. This ends up working for both of them. Velvet has spent years alone, coming to see herself as some sort of monstrous daemon. She’s a person who has lost absolutely everything and everyone. The whole reason she’s become the monster everyone believes her to be is to try and get the revenge she feels she deserves. After everything that has happened to people around her and her inability to foresee or stop any of it, she’s become someone determined to push everyone away. People can’t get close to her. People can’t be anything more. They have to only be tools. Laphicet gets past that. He breaks through that barrier, due to his resemblance to her brother. When he doesn’t speak out when a monster is about to kill him, all because Velvet offhandedly told him to keep his mouth shut, you can see it break her. She cares, and this means she ends up performing selfless acts for another human being for the first time in years. It helps her grow as an individual and recover, setting the stage for things to come.
For Laphicet, it’s a matter of having someone see him as more. As brusque as Velvet may be in Tales of Berseria, she becomes a mother figure to him. He has someone who could and would kill for him. He’s more elegant, reserved, and innocent, showing kindness and compassion to the people traveling with the two of them. He becomes independent and feeling. He even becomes one of the few people who stands up to Velvet and feels comfortable doing so, asserting his sense of self by insisting she begin calling him Phi, rather than see him as some sort of replacement. While he could have picked up on some of Velvet’s less admirable traits, he instead picks up on her desire to protect him, courage, confidence, and determination. It’s a very natural transition that’s a joy to see.
As you go through Tales of Berseria, it becomes clear that Velvet and Laphicet’s relationship is beneficial for the both of them. These two characters get the opportunity to play off of and heal each other. We’re able to watch as they influence each other with their behavior, humanizing one another. It’s quite a refreshing thing to watch this relationship and these characters grow.
Tales of Berseria is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC.