I recently got to play a story demo for Tales of Zestiria, and while it simply wouldn’t be fair to judge a Tales game based on just half an hour of play, it was certainly enough time to leave me with some solid impressions of how the combat feels and what players should expect from its world. The demo tasked me with hunting a Dragon, and the first objective was to get to Marlind, City of the Great Tree.
When I began, I was plopped into an expansive field full of enemies. The first thing that hit me was how seamless the transition between overworld exploration and combat was. Instead of the white “X” that would appear on the screen in Tales of Xillia, the game simply brought the camera toward the enemy, and then rapidly moved back to the player character as more enemies instantly spawned.
As the protagonist, Sorey feels much heavier than Jude from Tales of Xillia. There were four Artes at my disposal in the demo: Crimson Edge, Shadow Shock, Runic Circle, and Lion’s Howl. Crimson Edge was a swift lunge forward into an enemy, not unlike the Stinger move made popular by Devil May Cry. Shadow Shock and Runic Circle seemed to hold enemies in place and do damage over time, while Lion’s Howl unleashed a powerful burst of energy.
When I reached Marlind, I was calmed by its tranquil atmosphere. The city was calm, spacious and, well… a bit empty. When I approached a house in the distance, a cut scene began. Sorey and Mikleo combined, and then aimed their arrow at the moon. The arrow hits its mark—a dragon—and you’re the large drake dropped to the base of the neighboring Great Tree.
In this fight, Sorey maintained the fused form he and Mikleo had during the cutscene. Instead of four Artes, Sorey only had two at his disposal in this form: Arrow Squall and Blue Flurry. Blue Flurry could be chained three times to create a powerful third shot, while Arrow Squall launched a barrage of arrows into the air that came raining down on the enemy. I never exited the form during this battle, and my foe fell in a matter of minutes.
That was the end of the demo. Though I left with little understanding of what the story was about, playing the game brought back memories of playing Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Xillia with friends—and I found myself wondering what other Seraphs Sorey could combine with, since his Artes seemed a bit more technical than other characters in the franchise.