[personal profile] anon_jrpg_fangirl
Within the past week I beat both Star Ocean V and Tales of Zestiria, so my head's swimming a bit. I hurt my thumb a bit playing Zestiria towards the end during my marathon. At least I got past an annoying last boss and finished the game (dropped to Simple difficulty, but I don't even care).

Anyway, let's start with Star Ocean V.


There's nothing wrong with a short game. I quite enjoyed Nights of Azure, which was only a bit shorter than Star Ocean V, especially if you cut out grinding out quest rewards in Star Ocean V to open up specialties (which I spent at least 2 hours doing). Both games are small in scope in terms of plot and plot event count, but Star Ocean V leaves way more questions unanswered than Nights of Azure. It also has a severe lack in important character moments to really make the characters stand out. Instead it feels like the characters are just running around, acting more desperate than not, and solely focused on a child character because super powered magical child girl, of course. There are so many things that could have been expanded further to really develop the characters.

*major spoilers below*

The war that takes place on Faykreed IV is really just an event that leads to Fidel's father's death and strengthen Fidel's "resolve" to protect Relia, even though Fidel had plenty of that already. Daryl is a pretty awful father figure; never around, doesn't talk to his son until the last moment. But of course his "saving grace" is sacrificing himself to protect Relia from guns and dying from that wound. This part of the game, where Fidel doesn't understand why they can't save his father like Miki, would have been a great time to expand on the UP3 and pimp out the universe of Star Ocean to first time fans, but nope it's just a minor point. Strangely enough the characters of SOV are so much more accepting of "aliens" in that they don't even seem to care at all and are somehow not at all intimidated by the technology they don't understand, except guns because guns kill people, and pretty much so much potential tension was lost? Why did the Treikur people even decide to fight the Kingdom? Did they just let Kronos boss them around (it could likely be the guns, but I don't think it is ever stated)? Where the hell are the Treikur people anyway? They are like 3 towns in the entire game and none in Treikur?

*spoilers end*

I'm just so disappointed/frustrated with the lack of care put into this story. Rumors that the game was rushed doesn't mean they couldn't add more meaningful dialogue. The private actions are more the "oh look outside of 'work' the characters think these things" and add almost nothing to explaining/expanding on the plot and the world. While there aren't plot "holes" necessarily, the plot is like this thin stick instead of a branch, let alone a tree.



Now onto Tales of Zestiria.



The main plot of Tales of Zestiria is on the shorter side for a Tales game, similar in size to Tales of Xillia I think. It also has the same strengths as Tales of Xillia - a strong character focus, not so innovative on the plot department, some holes in the logic. But basically it made me happy enough. Combat was okay; I rather have played Graces f than Zestiria. We'll have to see if Berseria can improve on Zestiria because there are certainly interesting things about the world.

Ultimately it is a story focused on Sorey, and what led Sorey to make his final decision. A few of the concepts of the world (kept vague to not spoil) could have been better explained and explored. A certain revelation was left very late. Side quests in this game are easy to stumble into and do help add to the depth like those in Xillia. I didn't do all of them but I think I covered a good number. Skits are frustratingly easy to miss, especially for discovery points, which is annoying. Otherwise I recommend staying at the inn often. I don't think I even covered half of the skits in the game.

*spoilers below*

The biggest drama in the Tales fandom regarding this game, to my knowledge, was how Alisha was barely around to be played. I think the way the story is written is fine, because it's not like she's forgotten and sitting on her ass. On the other hand I can understand being disappointed watching the promo material and not getting a chance to play her more. Probably her DLC should have been part of the game for free... I'm satisfied with what I got so I don't mind skipping it, since I played ToZ for Sorey/Mikleo anyway.

Speaking of Sorey/Mikleo and ToZ shipping in general, the first part of the game really establishes that Sorey is Mikleo most important person and vice versa, and this thankfully never changes. The game doesn't make the ship obviously platonic or romantic. It does make Sorey have no romantic inclinations towards any of the female characters nor any of the female characters to have romantic inclinations towards Sorey. I mean, with the whole fake husband Sorey wife Rose thing the party all act surprised that Sergei actually believed them. Zaveid just acts like a "ladies man" but doesn't seem to have a particular inclination towards one female vs. another. Actually one post battle skit features Zaveid asking Sorey about ladies and Mikleo being like "he's not interested". Well, not quite in those words but pretty much the story is focused on Sorey's journey to understanding the world and what a Shepherd is, and all the romance is not a thing at all in this game. This is so refreshing since romance is implied, if not featured, in pretty much every other Tales game I have played. As someone who is asexual and feeling more aromantic and less biromantic, Sorey feels like the more "straightforward" aro-ace; the one who just is who he is and doesn't worry about romantic or sexual things because it just never occurs to him.

From checking the Tales of Zestiria section at ao3, I feel like Sorey/Mikleo is the main Sorey ship, which I am happy with. Considering how the game ends, it really doesn't make sense for any other Sorey ship to happen. Maybe, stretching it a bit, Sorey could end up with one of the other Seraphim once he returns. On ao3 I also noticed a lot of Rose/Dezel, which I get but personally don't ship. I prefer that one to be more like family, as I see Dezel as Rose's older brother/father figure, except behind the shadows. On the femslash side, I've seen both Rose/Alisha and Rose/Lailah. I think both have potential, but maybe favor Rose/Alisha despite their lack of in-game interactions due to Lailah's mostly closed-off heart. Rose and Alisha's first meeting was pretty great, too. But if anyone is going to really reopen Lailah's heart to a deep relationship, it would be Rose. Zaveid may be a second choice for that, but it's going to take a lot more effort on his part; Lailah/Zaveid is also pretty common in the tags. I actually don't mind seeing Mikleo/Edna, if it is only one of those temporary relationships before Sorey returns back. They get along but I see them at the level of siblings. Edna/Zaveid could work in the far future, once Edna has something besides Eizen and then Sorey's departures in her heart.

*spoilers end*



Summary of thoughts: Both Star Ocean V and Tales of Zestiria are relatively short compared to prior entries in their series. Both have fun gameplay but Star Ocean V is really bare-bones everywhere while Tales of Zestiria at least has some meat to it.

I'd recommend Tales of Zestiria to those who aren't who didn't mind Graces f's combat (I read some people hated it so I figured it was worth warning) and enjoy a more character growth-focused story.

I don't know who to recommend Star Ocean V to except people who don't care about plots but enjoy character customization (and don't mind grinding to get some of the good stuff) and Star Ocean-type battles (I personally prefer Tales combat over Star ocean combat, though they are similar-ish). My favorite parts are the little things that call back to previous Star Ocean games, but there's really not enough substance to it.

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